Bush tea (Athrixia phylicoides DC.) as an alternative herbal and medicinal plant in southern africa : opportunity for commercialization

10 Jun 2008

Bush tea (Athrixia phylicoides DC.) is a plant indigenous to South Africa and is commonly known as bushman’s tea (English); Boesmanstee (Afrikaans); Icholocholo, itshelo, umthsanelo (Zulu). It is a herbaceous plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family. People of South Africa have predominantly used it throughout history as a medicinal tea, for cleansing or purifying the blood, treating boils, headaches, infested wounds, cuts and the solution may also be used as a foam bath. The foam bath brew can also be used as lotion dabbed on to the boil, skin eruption or cut. The tea is also excellent for coughs and colds and as a gargle for throat infections and loss of voice. It is also believed to have aphrodisiac properties in some parts of southern Africa. The leaves contain 5-hydroxy-6,7,8,3’,4’,5’-hexamethoxy flavon-3-ol as a new flavonol which is a recently discovered flavonoid. Today, herbal tea cultivation is a big business in many parts of the world. South Africa is well known for its indigenous herbal tea production such as honey bush, rooibos and bush tea. There are increasing demands for such products, especially in the light of growing health consciousness worldwide. This necessitated the establishment and revival of bush tea as a healthy herbal beverage alternative to caffeine-containing beverages. Current research suggests that there is a great need to standardize processing methods and production protocols for consistent quality.