On the slopes of the scenic Kouga Mountains of the Southern Cape in a totally unpolluted environment grows a very special fynbush plant - the honeybush, the name stemming from the scent of the flowers when blooming.
More than 20 different species of honeybush are known of which mainly three species are used to produce tea namely cyclopia intermedia - bergtee (mountain tea), found on the drier mountain slopes and flowering during September/October, cyclopia subternata - vleitee (swamp tea), found in the lower, wetter areas flowering September/October and cyclopia sessiliflora - Heidelbergtea, from the Heidelberg (Cape) area, flowering May/June.
Honeybush is indigenous to the Southern and Western Cape and although commercially harvested and processed the commercial cultivation of Honeybush is still being researched and it is doubtful whether any substantial results would be obtained in this regard in the near future.
This means that for the present Honeybush is harvested in its natural habitat in a totally unpolluted environment and further processed under very strict supervision and according to very strict hygienic standards.
As far back as 1830 Honeybush has been noted as a tonic for colds and influenza, according to Watt (1932) it gave appetite to children who did not want to eat, it was also used at times of chronic catarrh (an infection of the mucous membrane of the nose ear and stomach) as well as pulmonic tuberculosis. The tea is free from any alkaloids, and has a caffeine contents of <0.1%, in comparison with oriental tea which contains from 25% to 30% tannin Honeybush contains only 0.45% tannin, thus very little stimulants.
Tannin and Caffein
Tannin and caffeine have various negative effects in that tannin binds with protein substances in the stomach to form insoluble components. Tannin acid however leads to constipation and enhances bloodcurdling. The constipation is as a result of the fact that tannin acid causes proteins to coagulate in the intestines, which decreases the secretions of the small intestine.
Caffeine affects the human body to an even larger extent in that it causes sleep disorders - possibly as a result of the fact that it penetrates the blood brain rampart and is thus a stimulant of the central nerve system. Chronic exposure to caffeine can lead to hypertension. Caffeine also is a stimulant for stomach acid secretions. For that reason patients with peptic ulcers are withheld from the intake of coffee. This makes Honeybush of considerable value especially in cases of cardiac and digestive problems in children where stimulants and tannin should be avoided as far as possible.
The Etnopharmacology (History)
Over the years regular users of Honeybush claimed that the tea:
May have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system in that it reduces blood pressure
Affects the urinary system
Has certain topical use in that it alleviates skin disorders like eczema, which may benefit sufferers from psoriasis.
Recently a scientific report was released by Professor Daneel Ferreira one of South Africas leading scientists formerly attached to the University of Free State, presently attached to the University of Mississippi in the U S A. According to this report by Professor Ferreira who performed thorough research on the phenolic composition of Honeybush Tea the following phenolic compounds are present in honeybush tea mentioned with its usual therapeutic properties.
A. Isoflavones & Coumestans
Dietary phytoestrogens - hormone-dependant process which is advantageous for:
Regulating of menstruation cycles
Reduces the risk of Osteoporosis
It also has the following properties:
Anti-cholesterolemic - lowers cholesterol levels
Hypolipemic - lowers fat levels
Luteolin : Anti Spasmodic/Antioxidant
4-hydroxycinnamic acid: Anti fungus / Antihepatotoxic
(+)- Pinitol: Ecspectorant / Antivirus / Hypoglycemia - decreases high blood sugar levels / anti diabetic.
Anti-hepatotixic - works against kidney poisoning
Vitamin-type activity (mixture of eriodictyol and hesperidien)
Diuretic (increases urinating)