9 Common Side Effects of Rooibos Tea You Should Know

Rooibos tea is native to South Africa. Also called red tea, rooibos is rich in antioxidant compounds which can help protect cells from damage due to free radicals. Laboratory and animal studies indicate that rooibos tea has therapeutic properties and may be helpful in some health conditions. And while these studies are not conclusive, many people consume rooibos tea or supplements. However, if you plan to take large quantities of rooibos, it is advisable to seek for a doctor’s advice about side effects of rooibos tea.

Rooibos Tea Side Effects

1. Iron Absorption

Taking too much tea may have some side effects. And while studies about specific side effects are not available, excess bush tea is known to interfere with absorption of iron from plant sources. For this reason, it is important to take it in moderation. This is even more important for people suffering from iron deficiency who should only take rooibos tea after meals, and after having consulted the doctor.

2. Increased Anxiety and Irritability

Consumption of too much rooibos tea is also associated with anxiety and increased irritability. However, these effects are usually short-lived and therefore wear out within hours after taking the tea.    

3. Skin and Breathing Problems 

While there are no supporting studies, some people have reported experiencing rooibos tea side effects involving skin and breathing problems after taking the tea. This may occur as a result of excess intake or allergic reactions. Symptoms include skin rashes, itching and swelling, tightness in the chest and difficulty in breathing. If you notice these symptoms after taking rooibos tea, consult a doctor immediately.

4. There Is Potential for Hepatotoxicity

A report was made in 2010 about a patient who developed hepatotoxicity after drinking rooibos.  The condition involves the increase of some liver enzymes that damage its internal structure. Although the report did not involve enough research, it is advisable to avoid consuming too much rooibos tea. In case you have a liver condition or you are on some medication, seek your doctor’s advice before taking rooibos tea.

5. Estrogenic Activity Is a Cause for Concern for Some Drinkers

Rooibos tea contains some compounds which have a similar effect as estrogen. This means that taking excess rooibos can lead to an increase in the female hormone known as estrogen. Excess estrogen may trigger increased growth of breast cancer. However, this is only likely when a person with breast cancer takes high amounts of rooibos tea for a long period of time.

It is also noteworthy that most of the rooibos tea side effects arise when too much is consumed over a long time. For this reason, people with estrogen-sensitive health conditions, should avoid the tea or only take it in small amounts.

6. Antioxidant Activity Should Give You a Pause

While the antioxidants in rooibos tea can benefit the body, they might interact with chemotherapy drugs. In case you are undergoing chemotherapy, it is important that you talk to your doctor if you are considering taking rooibos tea.  

7. The Risk of Rooibos during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Little is known about any effects of rooibos tea on pregnancy or lactation. For this reason, it may be necessary for pregnant and breastfeeding women to avoid rooibos tea.

8. May Be Toxic, Especially the Freshly Picked Leaves

While commercially available rooibos teas go through the necessary certification, raw teas may have bacteria or salmonella contamination. Be cautious and choose rooibos tea from high quality and clean sources.

9. May Weaken the Kidney

The kidney filters body fluids and is therefore involved in the processing of teas, including rooibos tea. It is worth to note that teas generally exert some strain on the kidneys. If you have kidney disease or similar conditions, it makes sense for you to avoid or limit consumption of rooibos and other teas. You should also discuss consumption of tea with your doctor.

How Much Rooibos Tea Can You Drink?

While the tea does not contain caffeine or tannin, rooibos tea side effects may overshadow its benefits. Caution is advised in drinking rooibos beverages. It is better to stick with regular and green teas which have been better studied than to experiment with this tea that could lead to emergencies for those allergic to it.

If you choose to take rooibos, limit your consumption to one cup prepared from 750 mg of the leaves. This optimal dosage should be taken with meals once or twice in a day. Taking more than this may lead to side effects.

Rooibos tea should be avoided by people with conditions such as pregnancy, heart disease, liver disorders, breast cancer and other related symptoms. While few studies have been carried out on its effects, it is better to avoid rooibos tea than to expose yourself to possible adverse effects.

If you take it, make sure that you watch out for any symptoms of adverse effects. Remember that in the case of the patient who suffered fromhepatotoxicity after taking the tea for weeks, had he been keen, he might have kept away from side effects by discontinuing usage and seeking medical care.