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No ‘convincing evidence’ that rooibos tea treats allergies in humans

A Facebook post claims that rooibos tea can treat allergies as it is a “natural antihistamine”. 

Antihistamines are a type of medicine used to treat the symptoms of allergies, including congestion, runny nose, sneezing, itching and skin rashes.

Is this claim supported by research? We spoke to a medical expert. 


Existing research done on cells and animals – not people

Jonny Peter, head of the allergology and clinical immunology division at Groote Schuur Hospital, the teaching hospital of the University of Cape Town, told Africa Check he was not aware of “convincing evidence” from human trials that showed that rooibos could be used to treat allergies.

“All of the other data that you see with various benefits in the literature relates to in vitro studies,” Peter said. This refers to studies that are done outside a living organism. He said there were also animal studies which showed some benefits. 

“We think that there is potential that rooibos may have good allergenic effects. Because of this we have two trials that are in process of being implemented,” Peter said. He said any treatment would need to have specific concentrations and be standardised. 

Rooibos tea may help treat allergies, but there is not yet enough evidence to rely on it in place of antihistamines.

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