26 Why Is Nitrogen Needed By Plants And Animals The Biology of Rooibos (South African Red Tea) – Climate Change And Health Effects

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The Biology of Rooibos (South African Red Tea) – Climate Change And Health Effects

This article focuses on Rooibosthe plant used to produce the drink known as South African red teaor just red tea, not to be confused with the Kannada word “red tea” which refers to what Westerners call “black tea”. Rooibos also refers to caffeine-free herbal tea made from the inside Aspalathus linearis plant.

The basics of Aspalathus linearis:

Aspalathus linearis, or rooibos, is a legume, which means it is in the same family as beans, peas, and locust trees. Like most vegetables, this plant is a nitrogen fixer. This means that the Aspalathus linearis plant is able to take nitrogen from the air and convert it into a form that it and other plants can use. The plant does so through special nodules in its roots that create an oxygen-free environment, where anaerobic bacteria can convert nitrogen from the air into forms that can be used by organisms. Nitrogen-fixing plants are important in many ecosystems, as they represent the main source through which nitrogen enters the ecosystem. These plants fix much more nitrogen than they are able to use themselves, and thus benefit many other plants.

Rooibos is native to a small region of South Africa’s Western Cape Province. This region has a semi-arid climate. Unfortunately, attempts to grow rooibos outside of this area have not been successful. The plant seems to be adapted to unique conditions in this area.

Rooibos and climate change:

Rooibos is among the commercial crops most threatened by climate change, mainly due to the range of specific conditions that the plant requires. Global climate change threatens not only to change the temperature globally and in this region, but to create small-scale changes and possibly unexpected changes in the climate in this region.

Rooibos and its positive health effects:

Rooibos is widely used in traditional medicine, but it has begun to be studied and understood scientifically. However, it shows the promise of a considerable positive effect on health. A chemical in rooibos, lutein, is a common chemical in many plants. Lutein is a carotenoid, the red pigment that contributes to the red color of rooibos. It also acts as an antidote and radical killer, and is probably responsible for some of the observed effects of rooibos in animal studies, such as protection against radiation poisoning. The same chemical that helps protect the rooibos plant against the sun’s rays can also protect people as well, when the plant is taken as an herbal tea. Rooibos is also used in skin products, and shows some evidence of sun protective effects.

Rooibos also shows evidence of other positive health effects. A study in rats found evidence that it works as a bronchodilator, helping to facilitate breathing, like many drugs used to treat asthma.

In short:

Rooibos is a nitrogen-fixing legume that is native to a small area of ​​the Western Cape Region of South Africa. Its production is limited to this region, and it is vulnerable to climate change. Rooibos has many positive effects on health, which are beginning to be fully studied and understood by science, but preliminary evidence suggests that it protects against radiation and can help facilitate better breathing.

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