Hibiscus Flower Health Benefits
Hibiscus Flower Health Benefits
When you think of hibiscus, what may come to mind is a slightly tart thirst quencher during the summertime or a spiced holiday drink during the winter. But did you know that hibiscus flowers possess many therapeutic benefits to your health? Here are a few reasons to drink teas infused with this flower all throughout the year to maintain your wellness.
What is Hibiscus?
Hibiscus sabdariffa, also known as roselle or sorrel, is a flower that is widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions across North and South America, Africa, and Asia. It has brightly colored petals that are typically used as a flavoring and color enhancing ingredient in food and beverage recipes.
Uses of Hibiscus
Parts of the plant including its leaves, stems, and seeds have been used for cosmetics, culinary purposes, medicines, and animal feeds. Hibiscus is used in a variety of treatments for illnesses like liver disorders, high blood pressure, lowering fevers, indigestion, and other conditions.1
Hibiscus is rich in phytochemicals including polyphenols like anthocyanins (which provide its red/purple color) and organic acids. Recent research supports the use of hibiscus teas for its antioxidant properties and its positive effects on blood pressure and heart health, fat metabolism, oxidative stress, and other conditions.2
Liver Health and Weight Management
The active components of the hibiscus plant are useful in managing fat accumulation in adipose tissue and liver. In one study published in 2014, researchers found that individuals consuming an extract of Hibiscus sabdariffa for 12 weeks were found to have an improvement in measures of obesity and reduced hepatic steatosis (build-up of fat in the liver).3
After 12 weeks, participants had a reduction in weight, BMI, body fat, and waist-to-hip ratio. Participants also had lower measurements of free fatty acids in the liver – indicating a decreased risk of non-alcoholic liver injury. To further support liver health, research shows that hibiscus can reduce total cholesterol, LDL (the bad cholesterol), and total triglycerides.
Hibiscus-infused water has been shown to be as effective as some antihypertensive medications in managing mild to moderate high blood pressure. In a study published in 2015 the effects of taking hibiscus or lisinopril (a blood pressure medication) were compared to a placebo. In the study, 75 adults took either 10mg of lisinopril, a placebo, or 150mg/kg of a hibiscus infusion daily for 4 weeks. At the end of the study, researchers found that the hibiscus and lisinopril were equally effective in their ability to help control blood pressure.4
A recent 2018 review of the research on Hibiscus sabdariffa L and hypertension supports hibiscus as an effective supplement in reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
How Safe is Hibiscus?
Drinking hibiscus tea is generally safe for most people when consumed in regular amounts in food, and possibly safe for when taken orally in medicinal amounts. For individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding, hibiscus can be potentially unsafe when taken in large medicinal amounts. It is important to check with a medical professional before taking hibiscus for certain medical conditions and possible drug interactions, which can be found on the MedlinePlus website.
Drinking hibiscus tea regularly is an easy way to support all of the systems of your body and get an extra boost of antioxidants in your diet!
Yours in Health-
Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD
IVL’s Community Registered Dietitian
- Da-Costa-Rocha I, Bonnlaender B, Sievers H, Pischel I, Heinrich M. Hibiscus sabdariffa L. - a phytochemical and pharmacological review. Food Chem. 2014;165:424-443.
- Guardiola S, Mach N. Therapeutic potential of Hibiscus sabdariffa: A review of the scientific evidence. Endocrinología y Nutrición (English Edition). 2014;61(5):274-295.
- Chang H-C, Peng C-H, Yeh D-M, Kao E-S, Wang C-J. Hibiscus sabdariffa extract inhibits obesity and fat accumulation, and improves liver steatosis in humans. Food Funct. 2014;5(4):734-739.
- Nwachukwu DC, Aneke EI, Obika LF, Nwachukwu NZ. Effects of aqueous extract of Hibiscus sabdariffa on the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system of Nigerians with mild to moderate essential hypertension: A comparative study with lisinopril. Indian J Pharmacol. 2015;47(5):540-545.
- Serban C, Sahebkar A, Ursoniu S, Andrica F, Banach M. Effect of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) on arterial hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Hypertens. 2015;33(6):1119-1127.