Hibiscus is an annual flowering plant of the mallow family, Malvaceae. This plant is found throughout the world in warm, tropical and subtropical regions. Hibiscus has conspicuous, trumpet-shaped flowers that are red, pink, orange or yellow in color. It’s the national flower of Haiti, South Korea, and Malaysia. Because of its showy flowers, hibiscus is often used in landscaping and to attract bees, butterflies and birds. Moreover, hibiscus is used in foods, beverages and offers numerous health benefits.
The health benefits of this flower have been touted by generations and it has been used for centuries to treat various ailments. The health effects of hibiscus are still appreciated today, especially when enjoyed as a tasty hibiscus tea. This article highlights some of the many health benefits of drinking hibiscus tea.
The flower portion of the hibiscus plant is used to make medicine. It’s a natural diuretic, meaning it helps increase the flow of urine; the fruit acids work as a gentle laxative. Traditionally, it is used to maintain normal body temperature, to support heart health, and to improve blood circulation throughout the body. It’s thought that the chemicals in hibiscus work to decrease stomach acid, intestinal and uterus spasms, and to fight bacteria as an antibiotic.
Moreover, it’s used to combat the loss of appetite, support upper respiratory health by relieving cold and flu symptoms, soothing inflammation, pain and swelling, and by treating an irritated stomach and other stomach disorders. When applied to the skin, Hibiscus has antioxidants that detox, purify and hydrate the skin.
Blood pressure management. The American Heart Association reported in 2008 that that drinking hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure in pre- and mildly-hypertensive adults. Hibiscus tea can also reduce blood pressure by up to 10 points. For these benefits, however, it is recommended that you consume 2-3 cups per day for a couple of weeks.
Lowers cholesterol. Hibiscus tea helps to lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and also helps protect blood vessels from damage. For the most health benefits, consume a cup of hibiscus tea two times per day, or take 100 mg of extract twice a day.
Protects the liver. Research has shown that the antioxidant properties of hibiscus tea may help in treating liver disease. These antioxidants neutralize free radicals in the body’s tissues and cells. Therefore, it is safe to say that drinking hibiscus tea helps maintain good overall health in many organ systems.
Cancer-fighting. Protocatechuic acid is known to have anti-tumor and antioxidant properties and it is found in hibiscus tea. It has been suggested that hibiscus can even slow down the growth of cancerous cells.
Anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. Due to its abundance of vitamin C, hibiscus tea can boost and stimulate your immune system. Drinking hibiscus tea may help prevent colds and the flu, and may help expedite the recovery time.
Antidepressant. There are vitamins and minerals, like flavonoids, found in hibiscus tea that have antidepressant properties. Consumption of hibiscus can calm the nervous system and reduce anxiety.
Digestion. Drinking hibiscus tea can improve digestion as well as both urinary and bowel movements. Due to its diuretic properties, it is often used to treat constipation and improve the health of the GI system.
Weight loss. Research has suggested that hibiscus lowers the absorption of starch and glucose, which may assist with weight loss.
How to Make Hibiscus Tea
One of the easiest ways to reap the benefits of hibiscus is by consuming it in tea form. Use the dried flowers, add two teaspoon into boiling water and let it steep for approximately five minutes. Strain out the dried flowers and it’s ready to drink! Add lemon or honey to enhance flavor.
Hibiscus tea is prepared by boiling parts of the hibiscus plant, usually the flower, in water. The drink has a mildly tart flavor, much like cranberry juice, and can be enjoyed hot or cold.
While hibiscus tea provides many positive benefits and the safety profile of the plant is considered excellent, it should not be enjoyed by everyone. If you are pregnant, on birth control or hormone therapy, or have low blood pressure, it is not recommended for you to consume hibiscus tea.
Also, please be aware that while it is extremely rare, hibiscus may cause an allergic or a hallucinogenic reaction in some people. While none of these adverse reactions have been scientifically proven, sip your tea slowly and be aware of your body’s reaction.
What’s your favorite herbal tea? Please share below!