The beautiful hibiscus flower may remind you of a Hawaiian vacation. But did you know that hibiscus, which is the state flower of Hawaii, is not just meant to be worn as an ornament behind your ear? This plant contains powerful antioxidants and beneficial compounds like anthocyanins, and flavonoids which offer many health benefits. Let’s take a look at the ways in which hibiscus can improve your health.
1. Lowers Blood Sugar
Hibiscus tea might be useful if you’re worried about your blood sugar levels. High blood sugar can impact the functioning of your nerves, eyes, and kidneys and increase your chances of getting heart disease too. But one animal study found that taking a hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa sinensis) flower extract orally for twenty one days reduced blood glucose levels by forty one to forty six percent.1
2. Lowers Cholesterol
According to research, hibiscus can lower cholesterol levels. Artery clogging cholesterol can up your risk of heart disease but animal studies have shown that hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa sinensis) flower extracts taken orally might be able to lower total cholesterol levels by as much as twenty two percent. Moreover, it also increases levels of HDL cholesterol (which is good for you).2 It is thought that saponins (which are chemical compounds found in plants) present in hibiscus bind to cholesterol and prevent its absorption in the body.3
3. Lowers Blood Pressure
Did you know that drinking hibiscus tea can help control your blood pressure? One study found that having sour tea (made from a species of hibiscus known as Hibiscus sabdariffa) for twelve days lowered systolic (pressure exerted when your heart is beating) blood pressure by 11.2% and diastolic (pressure exerted while your heart is resting between beats) pressure by 10.7% in people with moderate hypertension.4 Saponins present in hibiscus are considered to be responsible for this beneficial effect.5
4. Improves Hair Growth
Traditionally, the crushed leaves of hibiscus have been used as a soapy paste to clean hair. It is thought to strengthen hair and promote healthy hair growth. 6 Now, scientific studies have also found that hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa sinensis) leaf extracts can promote hair growth.7 So if you’re looking for thick beautiful tresses try shampooing with hibiscus leaves.
5. Heals Wounds
A cup of hibiscus tea just might be able to help heal any wounds or nicks that you have. A hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa sinensis) flower extract, when taken orally, was found to quicken wound healing, and lead to faster skin growth in rats when compared to controls who were not given the hibiscus extract.8
6. Can Protect Against Skin Cancer
Exposure to the harmful UV rays of the sun and certain harmful chemicals (for instance, benzoyl peroxide) are known to promote skin cancer. But hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa sinensis) might have a protective effect. According to a study, the topical application of hibiscus extract before exposure to UV rays and the toxic chemical benzoyl peroxide was able to partly restore levels of protective enzymes which prevent cellular damage.9
7. Boosts The Immune System
Your immune system is your body’s defense against all sorts of diseases. And according to research, extracts of hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa sinensis) flowers may be able to stimulate cells (known as T and B cells) which fight infection. So to strengthen the natural defenses of your body try a cup of hibiscus tea.10
Hibiscus In Ayurveda
The Indian science of Ayurveda has long valued hibiscus for its many medicinal properties:
- In the ancient text Bhaavaprakaasha, hibiscus flowers are pounded with sour gruel and taken as a contraceptive. A little jaggery is also supposed to be consumed after taking this medicinal gruel.
- Ayurveda recommends the application of a paste of hibiscus flowers and Aamalaka (Emblica officinale) to prevent the premature graying of hair.
- Hibiscus buds pounded with milk are also considered to be beneficial for those suffering from gynaecological disorders.11
- Hibiscus tea is recommended as a cooling drink during hot summer days and is also used to treat fever.12
Though hibiscus has many properties that can improve your health do keep in mind that taking hibiscus orally is not a good idea if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, since it can lower blood pressure and blood sugar avoid it if you have low blood pressure or are on medication to control your blood sugar.13
|↑1, ↑2||Sachdewa, Archana, and L. D. Khemani. “Effect of Hibiscus rosa sinensis Linn. ethanol flower extract on blood glucose and lipid profile in streptozotocin induced diabetes in rats.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 89, no. 1 (2003): 61-66.|
|↑3, ↑5||Krishnaiah, Duduku, T. Devi, Awang Bono, and Rosalam Sarbatly. “Studies on phytochemical constituents of six Malaysian medicinal plants.” Journal of medicinal plants research 3, no. 2 (2009): 067-072.|
|↑4||Faraji, M. Haji, and AH Haji Tarkhani. “The effect of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on essential hypertension.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 65, no. 3 (1999): 231-236.|
|↑6||Nozedar, Adele. The Garden Forager: Edible Delights in your Own Back Yard. Random House, 2015.|
|↑7||Adhirajan, N., T. Ravi Kumar, N. Shanmugasundaram, and Mary Babu. “In vivo and in vitro evaluation of hair growth potential of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Linn.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 88, no. 2 (2003): 235-239.|
|↑8||[Nayak, B. Shivananda, S. Sivachandra Raju, F. A. Orette, and AV Chalapathi Rao. “Effects of Hibiscus rosa sinensis L (Malvaceae) on wound healing activity: a preclinical study in a Sprague Dawley rat.” The international journal of lower extremity wounds 6, no. 2 (2007): 76-81.|
|↑9||Sharma, Sonia, and Sarwat Sultana. “Effect of Hibiscus rosa sinensis extract on hyperproliferation and oxidative damage caused by benzoyl peroxide and ultraviolet radiations in mouse skin.” Basic & clinical pharmacology & toxicology 95, no. 5 (2004): 220-225.|
|↑10||Gaur, Kalpesh, M. L. Kori, and R. K. Nema. “Comparative screening of immunomodulatory activity of hydro-alcoholic extract of Hibiscus rosa sinensis Linn and ethanolic extract of Cleome gynandra Linn.” Global J Pharmacol 3, no. 2 (2009): 85-89.|
|↑11||Jadhav, V. M., R. M. Thorat, V. J. Kadam, and N. S. Sathe. “Hibiscus rosa sinensis Linn–‘‘Rudrapuspa’’: A Review.” Journal of Pharmacy Research Vol 2, no. 7 (2009).|
|↑12||Khalsa, Karta Purkh Singh, and Michael Tierra. The way of ayurvedic herbs: The most complete guide to natural healing and health with traditional ayurvedic herbalism. Lotus Press, 2008.|
|↑13||Hibiscus. National Institutes of Health.|