, Volume 66, Issue 4, pp 427-428
Date: 14 Jan 2010

Possible hepatotoxic effect of rooibos tea: a case report

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Sirs,

Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) is a popular indigenous South African herbal tea with a growing worldwide market. Traditional medicinal uses of rooibos have included alleviation of infantile colic, asthma, allergies and dermatological problems. It has also been used to treat certain malignancies and inflammatory disorders [1]. Rooibos tea is consumed for enjoyment, as an alternative to Oriental tea, but also for its possible medicinal properties and, to date, no adverse effects have been associated with its consumption [2]. This is noteworthy as the total production of rooibos exceeded 14,000 tons in 2007 [1]. We describe here a patient who temporarily experienced elevated liver enzymes after having consumed relatively large amounts of rooibos tea.

The patient was a 42-year-old woman who had been diagnosed with a low-grade B-cell malignancy, Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, in 2004. Her disease was in a stable stage, with a plasma immunoglobulin M concentration of about 10 g/l (refer