Aspalathin a unique phytochemical from the South African rooibos plant (Aspalathus linearis): A mini Review
Aspalathus linearis (rooibos) is a plant which grows in a limited habitat in South Africa. The plant is mainly renowned for the beverage (herbal tea) which is made from its aerial parts. The popularity of the herbal tea is not confined to South Africa as significant amounts of the tea are exported to many countries worldwide. Rooibos reportedly has several health benefits which have been attributed to its constituent phytochemicals. One of the major phytochemicals in rooibos is aspalathin. Aspalathin makes up between 4-12% of the plant. Aspalathin is a dihydrochalcone glycoside which has thus far only been isolated from Aspalathus linearis. Aspalathin has been shown to possess biological activity which imparts it with multiple health beneficial effects. This mini review highlights the recent findings on the biological properties of aspalathin. These include antioxidant, antidiabetic, cardioprotective, antihypertensive and antimutagenic effects. Given its multiplicity of biological effects, aspalathin is a natural phytochemical which has potential to be incorporated into current medical therapeutic regimes in light of recent preferences for the use of natural medicines.