A grade 7 learner from Cornwall Hill College in Centurion who chose to do a school science project on the effects of green rooibos tea on diabetic dogs was honoured today at this year’s annual symposium held by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
The 12-year-old, Zaria Rule, presented her project findings to hundreds of delegates who applauded her for her efforts at the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) in Sandton.
Zaria’s project complemented this year’s Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programmes (THRIP) Conference theme, which is all about accelerating industrialisation through the exploitation of scientific research findings in the agricultural sector.
The DTI encourages initiatives that promote the movement of young scientists, which plays a key role in advancing the next generation of industries and products developed in South Africa.
The idea for the project came to Zaria after she heard a lady on a radio progamme talking about how rooibos tea helped her to manage her diabetic condition. After some exploratory research, Zaria decided to test green rooibos tea on several diabetic dogs, including her pet dog, Jessie, who also suffers from the condition.
After feeding the diabetic dogs – whose owners volunteered to participate in the project – one cup (250ml) of green rooibos, which was diluted with another three cups of tap water per day over a four-week period – the dogs responded positively and their blood glucose levels were more stable. Zaria was able to reduce Jesse’s dose of insulin down to 10 units twice a day.
Several studies by the SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC), the Agricultural Research Council (ARC, Infruitec-Nietvoorbij, Stellenbosch) and the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, have all confirmed rooibos’ potential to delay and possibly prevent the onset and progression of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in diabetic rodents.
Zaria’s project helped to create awareness among the public that diabetes also affects animals and that the early detection of the condition can save and significantly improve the quality of their lives.
The THRIP symposium ends tomorrow, 25 October.