Cyclopia genistoides



Honeybush tea, Heuningbos


Derivation of name and historical aspects

Plant parts used

Leaves, twigs and flowers.

Medicinal Uses / Ethnopharmacological uses

Honeybush tea is mainly used as a tea substitute and health drink because it contains no harmful substances such as caffeine. It has been used since early times for its direct positive effects on the urinirary system and is valued as a stomachic (assist digestion) that aids weak digestion without affecting the heart.

Health benefits

Honeybush Tea has no negative side effects – Honeybush tea, grown in South Africa, has no negative side effects whatsoever. Other key health benefits of Honeybush Tea includes:
Studies have shown a positive association between this tea and bone mineral density.
Very low tannin levels
It is very soothing and calms the central nervous system
Eases constipation
Can be applied topically to skin irritations
Full of antioxidants to guard against free radical attack
Contains polyphenols that boost the immune system and to help reduce the degenerative effects of lifestyle diseases.
Rich in minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese, and sodium.
Properties that enhance health:
Isolavones & Coumestans
The dietary phyto-estrogen-hormone-dependant process. This is advantageous for:
Regulation of menstruation cycles
Prevention of breast, prostate and Uterus cancer
Reduces the risk of Osteoporosis
Anti-fungal properties
Anti-virus properties
Anticholesterolemic-lowers cholesterol levels
Hypolipemic-lowers fat levels

Anti-hepatotoxic – works against kidney poisoning

Vitamin-type activity (mixture of eriodictyol and hesperidien)
Diuretic (increases Urinating)
Non-feeding sweeteners

Good for gastrointestinal health – people suffering from digestive problems can benefit from drinking Honeybush Tea. It can be taken to alleviate heartburn, nausea and constipation. It can also help cure constipation. It treats abdominal cramps and colic pain in infants (Natural Home Remedies)

Honeybush Tea improves the immune system – Honeybush Tea is a natural source of many antioxidants, including major phenolic compounds. Phenolic compounds play a significant role in protecting the immune system from oxidative stress, which could damage cells, according to a 2013 review published in “Nutrients.” Phenolic compounds also modulate the immune system, which helps the body’s natural defenses against infections. This may be responsible for the belief that Honeybush Tea is effective in relieving colds, influenza and other diseases (Livestrong)

Honeybush Tea protects from inflammatory diseases – evidence also exists that the phenolic compounds in Honeybush Tea are able to reduce inflammation and prevent the development of chronic inflammatory diseases. Phenolic compounds have a direct effect on down-regulating the body’s inflammatory response, as demonstrated in inflamed intestinal cells similar to those seen in inflammatory bowel disease, according to a December 2010 study published in “Chemico-Biological Interactions.” This makes Honeybush Tea effective in providing short-term inflammatory relief as well as helping to prevent or ameliorate inflammatory diseases like IBD or Crohn’s disease (Livestrong)

Women’s Health – Phyto-estrogens help to regulate the menstrual cycle, alleviate symptoms of menopause, prevent osteoporosis, reduce the risk of heart disease and protect against premature ageing. Honeybush Tea is valuable to women’s health, because it helps regulate periods and reduces the risk of osteoporosis and cancer of the breast and uterus.


All 23 species of Cyclopia occur only in fynbos; from the Cederberg Mountains, southwards to the Cape Peninsula and eastwards to Port Elizabeth. Usually species are restricted to very small areas and then also to very specific habitats like high mountain peaks, marshy areas, shale bands and wet southern slopes.



Botanical Description

Honeybush is well known in the Cape, not so much as a garden shrub, but as a herbal tea.
Cyclopia genistoides is a small, typical fynbos shrub, easy to miss when not in flower. A much-branched woody shrub with golden yellow stems, it grows to about one metre. The short needle-like leaves are arranged in threes along the branches, a typical feature of Cyclopia. When flowering in spring the same shrub can take your breath away with a bold display of bright yellow flowers.
The brown seeds are formed in small pods that turn brown. The pods dry and split open within a few weeks as the seed ripens.

Plants from the genus Cyclopia are easily recognized by their sweetly, scented yellow, pea flowers.

Caprenter bees are attracted to the sweet smelling flowers at the tip of the branches. They are responsible for most of the pollination.

After fire old honeybush plants shoot out vigorously from the surviving roots,which act as a storage organ.

Preparation and Dosage

One or two teaspoons per cup are steeped or boiled for several minutes. Boiling is said to improve the quality and taste, unlike ordinary tea.

Active Ingredients

Mangiferin, a xanthone-C-glycoside was identified as the major constituent, together with flavanone-O-glycosides such as hesperidin. Further detailed studies revealed the full complexity of phenolic compounds. The main compounds in C.genistoides are mangiferin (ca. 4% of dried extract), isomangiferine, hesperidin and narirutin.

Pharmacological Effects

The tea has antioxidant properties as well as effects against lipid peroxidase. In vitro and in vivo studies of crude extracts and pure compounds have also shown antimutagenic, anticarcinogenic and oestrogenic activity.


Near threatened. 2011/06/09. Decreasing population. One of five species of Cyclopia used for honey bush tea. Harvesting of wild subpopulations to supply the tea industry is widespread and overharvesting is causing population decline. Lowland subpopulations have experienced habitat loss due to urban development and crop cultivation. Decline in the population over the past three generations (150 years) is suspected to be 25%. Decline, as a result of habitat loss and overharvesting, is ongoing.


Declining due to overharvesting for the honey bush tea industry. Illegal harvesting (poaching) of leaves and branches for tea has been reported in a number of areas. In addition, lowland subpopulations of this species in the Malmesbury, Cape Peninsula, Kleinmond, Hermanus and Albertinia region have been lost due to urban expansion and crop cultivation



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