In the age where illegal performance enhancing drugs have threatened the health of the professional sports industry, it appears every athlete is looking for the ‘silver bullet’ to sporting success.  In South Africa, scientists have found an unlikely plant which could well become the most sought after natural performance supplement the world over.

Energy drink held in hand in grass

Rooibos, now listed as one of the top 50 superfoods of all time, has become a popular ingredient in consumables, from moisturisers to beverages.  This humble plant, and one of South Africa’s finest exports, has grown far beyond a much-loved cup of tea.

trial runner in the mountains


The list of health benefits of rooibos is extensive; it is naturally caffeine-free, contains high levels of beneficial antioxidants and is rich in many essential minerals the body needs such as iron, calcium, potassium, copper, manganese, zinc, magnesium and alpha hydroxy acid.

With its strong history of medicinal benefits, it is no wonder sport scientists have begun to focus their attention on the possible links between rooibos and sport performance.


  • 70% More Electrolytes than other sports drinks
  • BOS Sport contains superfood rooibos
  • 5% Improvement in Performance*
  • 25% Less Sugar than other sports drinks


Research to date from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and the Prime Human Performance Institute in Durban have concluded that rooibos plays a preventative role in exercise-induced oxidative stress. This means that rooibos’s concentration of antioxidants works in unison to resist cell damage caused by intense bouts of exercise.   CPUT Professor Simeon Davies explained that their studies have shown that rooibos can actually enhance exercise performance.

“Rooibos contains components referred to as polyphenols exhibiting certain bio-activities suggested to include the modulation of oxidative stress, the inflammatory response, muscular damage and fatigue. These responses, if not controlled, can all result in declining performance during exercise. Recent research provides evidence that rooibos may minimise some of, perhaps all of these factors, with a resultant enhanced exercise performance.  

The findings support the hypothesis that when an athlete or sportsperson trains, especially during repeated bouts of high intensity exercise (e.g. repeated sprints for athletics, football, rugby etc and also for resistance training when exercise includes repeated repetitions requiring near maximal force) using rooibos they perform better, which in turn implies they have the potential to perform better in actual competition. “

Preliminary findings of their study also conclude that rooibos builds and repairs muscle tissue, reduces physical fatigue and boosts performance by up to 5%.  Rooibos also prevents cell damage during high-intensity bursts of exercise whilst fighting inflammation and boosting circulation. It contains high levels of magnesium and zinc(aids in testosterone production, which is important for the body’s durability and ability to recover) and has high levels of calcium, magnesium and manganese(vital for bone health). This humble super food also aids iron absorption and enhances oxygen delivery to the muscles, which is critical in endurance racing.

BOS sport energy drink in the mountains

In beverage format, it is an ideal fluid and electrolyte replacement (as it contains critical electrolytes and minerals for sustained performance) and could help to prevent high altitude sickness.

While scientists will never stop their search for the elusive ‘silver bullet’ for sporting success, there are some brands which have already capitalised on the growing body of health data linked to rooibos to develop products designed to benefit athletes.  BOS Sport is readily available across South Africa, and is safe and legal as a performance enhancing sports drink for any age or level of sporting activity.

*Davies, S.E.H., Marnewick, J.L., West, S., Taliep, MS., Rautenbach, F., and Gamieldien, R. (2019) ‘The Efficiency of Rooibos Aspalathus linearis as an ergogenic aid during exercise’, Int. J. Human Factors and Ergonomics, Vol 6, No. 1, pp 88-102

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