Positioning research and Scholarly Innovation within a “transdisciplinary” approacht

the case of the South African indigenous plant Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) and its potential as an ergogenic aid


  • Simeon Davies Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  • Jeanine Marnewick Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  • Dirk Bester Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  • Oviety Kamati Cape Peninsula University of Technology




Transdisciplinary, Ergogenic, Rooibos, Sustainability


Based on the shared expertise of two research entities at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) a transdisciplinary (TD) research approach was adopted to investigate whether Rooibos an indigenous South African plant with its unique bioactive compounds modulates oxidative stress and potentially acts as an ergogenic supplement. Due to the nature of this unique biotechnology and sport business collaboration along with support from the South African Rooibos Council (SARC) and associated academic stakeholders, various beneficial outcomes were anticipated, including: 1) to provide scientific findings informed by the innovative technologies that measure metabolic and gene-diet interaction responses to phenolic-rich Rooibos; 2) to assess the potential of Rooibos to modulate oxidative stress during exercise and underscore its anticipated ergogenic properties; 3) to utilize scientifically derived evidence to beneficiate Rooibos in the lucrative sport supplement market; 4) to provide rationale to optimize the equitable sharing of benefits derived from Rooibos to the relevant indigenous communities, and 5) to enhance sustainable economic benefits derived from various policy enactments including the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status. The findings from two randomized double-blinded placebo controlled intervention trials provide a strong indication that the unique bioactive compounds of Rooibos may have benefits for exercise performance and recovery and as a potential ergogenic supplement, which may have further positive ramifications for the Rooibos value chain in terms of beneficiating Rooibos. Additionally, the TD approach has acknowledged the importance of indigenous biological resources, and the commitment to share sustainable economic benefits with traditional knowledge holders in a fair and equitable way.


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