Novel process for a rooibos extract to optimise the healing effect

Cape Town | The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) has collaborated with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and local wellness product development company Afriplex to produce Afriplex GRTTM, an ingredient rich in aspalathin, one of the key actives in rooibos.  The Afriplex GRTTM will be formulated into products aimed at managing conditions linked to cholesterol, blood glucose and insulin resistance.

According to the results of a continental study conducted by an Africa-wide consortium, led by the SAMRC, diabetes prevalence amongst African women and men has almost doubled between 1980 and 2014 with a 4.8% increase in women and a 5.1% prevalence increase in men in the same time-frame. Furthermore, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) has predicted that diabetes cases will rise to 552 million by 2030 and that the greatest increase in diabetes is expected to take place in Africa. There are currently 14.7 million diabetics in Africa, 1.8 million of whom are in South Africa.  

“Afriplex GRTTM is a proudly South African product. Not only is rooibos indigenous to South Africa, but the benefits of this plant were also demonstrated largely by South African scientists,” says Senior Programme Manager Dr Michelle Mulder. “This collaboration is a great example of how we are using research and innovation to respond to key disease burdens in South Africa through technology transfer”.

The beneficial effects of aspalathin and aspalathin-rich green rooibos extracts are based on studies conducted by the SAMRC and its collaborators which confirm that the genes and proteins that regulate glucose and cholesterol are positively affected by such extracts. Furthermore, aspalathin has been shown to protect vulnerable cells, such as insulin producing pancreatic B cells, from increased oxidative stress and inflammation caused by an unhealthy diet and obesity. Some of these health benefits of rooibos and aspalathin are covered by international patents.

The ingredient GRTTM contains aspalathin, a bioactive compound unique to the Aspalathus species, that contributes to its potency for improved healing effects. The 12% aspalathin level found in GRTTM is significantly higher than that found in commonly used rooibos teas, which undergo a fermentation process causing oxidation and giving the tea its characteristic red-brown colour and aromatic flavor. 

A human trial, earmarked for 2018, will determine the safety profile of the ingredient in healthy but at risk participants in South Africa and will be followed by efficacy studies.

The Afriplex GRTTM will be launched in April 2018. 


About the Biomedical Research and Innovation Platform (BRIP)
The Biomedical Research and Innovation Platform (BRIP) is the SAMRC’s leading biomedical innovation platform and leads research into medical innovations for the screening, prevention and treatment of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.  The platform’s capacity development programme trains the next generation of scientists in the field of Biotechnology with an emphasis on young black scientists from previously disadvantage Institutions.  BRIP is part of the Grants, Innovation and Product Development (GIPD) Unit. Website:

About the Agricultural Research Council (ARC)
The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) is a premier science institution that conducts research with partners, develops human capital and foster innovation in support of the agricultural sector. The ARC provides diagnostic, laboratory, analytical, agricultural engineering services, post-harvest technology development, agrochemical evaluation, consultation and advisory services, food processing technology services as well as various surveys and training interventions. Website:

About Afriplex
Afriplex is a South African company rooted in the development and manufacturing of botanical extracts, complementary medicines and food & beverage product solutions. The business objective is to create value for shareholders, clients and employees by delivering innovative and cost-effective solutions whilst utilising sustainable resources. Website:

Release date: 
Friday, March 9, 2018 - 10:59
Keletso Ratsela
Contact: Keletso Ratsela

Media Strategist
Tel: +27 71 214 5272