Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is a plant said to offer several health benefits. Believed to be native to Africa, hibiscus is often used to make herbal teas (also known as "infusions" or "tisanes").
Health Benefits of Hibiscus Tea:
Although few scientific studies have tested the health benefits of hibiscus, early research suggests that hibiscus tea or hibiscus extract may offer antioxidant effects and enhance cardiovascular health. Here's a look at key findings from the available research on the health benefits of hibiscus:
1) High Blood Pressure
Drinking hibiscus tea daily may benefit people with slightly elevated blood pressure, according to a small study published in The Journal of Nutrition in 2010. For six weeks, 65 adults who had mildly elevated blood pressure (but were not taking blood pressure medication) drank either three cups of hibiscus tea or a placebo beverage each day. Study results revealed that members of the hibiscus group experienced a greater drop in blood pressure (compared to those who consumed the placebo beverage).
In a 2010 research review from Phytomedicine, scientists sized up four clinical trials on the use of hibiscus tea in treatment of high blood pressure. While each trial showed that hibiscus may help lower blood pressure, the review's authors caution that three of the four studies were of poor quality.
Find out about other natural remedies for high blood pressure.
Hibiscus tea may offer some health benefits to people with type 2 diabetes. In a 2009 study from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, for instance, researchers assigned 60 diabetes patients to drink hibiscus tea or black tea twice daily for a month. Looking at data on the 53 people who completed the study, the study's authors found that members of the hibiscus group had a significant increase in HDL ("good") cholesterol and a significant decrease in total cholesterol and LDL ("bad") cholesterol.
In a 2009 study from the Journal of Human Hypertension, meanwhile, scientists discovered that daily consumption of hibiscus tea may help lower blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes.
See Natural Treatments for Diabetes to learn of other ways to fight diabetes.
3) High Cholesterol
Preliminary findings from animal-based research and test-tube studies indicate that hibiscus extract may help keep cholesterol in check and in turn protect against atherosclerosis.
More about Natural Remedies For High Cholesterol.
Using Hibiscus Tea for Health:
It's too soon to recommend hibiscus as a standard treatment of any health condition. However, since hibiscus contains a number of healthful substances (including anthocyanins), sipping hibiscus tea regularly may offer some mild health benefits.
Chang YC, Huang KX, Huang AC, Ho YC, Wang CJ. "Hibiscus anthocyanins-rich extract inhibited LDL oxidation and oxLDL-mediated macrophages apoptosis." Food Chem Toxicol. 2006 Jul;44(7):1015-23.
Chen CC, Hsu JD, Wang SF, Chiang HC, Yang MY, Kao ES, Ho YC, Wang CJ. "Hibiscus sabdariffa extract inhibits the development of atherosclerosis in cholesterol-fed rabbits." J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Aug 27;51(18):5472-7.
McKay DL, Chen CY, Saltzman E, Blumberg JB. "Hibiscus sabdariffa L. tea (tisane) lowers blood pressure in prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults." J Nutr. 2010 Feb;140(2):298-303.
Mozaffari-Khosravi H, Jalali-Khanabadi BA, Afkhami-Ardekani M, Fatehi F. "Effects of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on lipid profile and lipoproteins in patients with type II diabetes." J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Aug;15(8):899-903.
Mozaffari-Khosravi H, Jalali-Khanabadi BA, Afkhami-Ardekani M, Fatehi F, Noori-Shadkam M. "The effects of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on hypertension in patients with type II diabetes." J Hum Hypertens. 2009 Jan;23(1):48-54.
Wahabi HA, Alansary LA, Al-Sabban AH, Glasziuo P. "The effectiveness of Hibiscus sabdariffa in the treatment of hypertension: a systematic review." Phytomedicine. 2010 Feb;17(2):83-6.