Dried flowers of the plant Hibiscus sabdariffa are boiled in water to make a healing tea called hibiscus tea.
This traditional Chinese rose tea is often recommended to treat inflammation, hypertension, and high cholesterol, and, hence, also type 2 diabetes and heart conditions – and within good reason. Compounds called anthocyanins, polyphenols, and hibiscus acid found in hibiscus tea have been given credit for its health benefits.
But does hibiscus tea bring a “conditions apply” clause with it? Yes, it does.
Side Effects Of Hibiscus Tea
Natural is assumed to be safe, but the truth is far from it. Even natural remedies can have side effects. Whether or not a natural substance has side effects mostly depends on dosage and context. By context we mean your current health status and treatments you may be undergoing.
Let’s take a look at some of the risks hibiscus tea may expose us to.
1. It Interferes With Fertility And Pregnancy
Pregnant or nursing women should not drink hibiscus tea. Hibiscus tea contains cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These compound may cause health complications in a growing fetus, resulting in birth defects.
Rumor has it that hibiscus tea can also serve as an emmenagogue, inducing periods. This may result in miscarriages, which is why pregnant women should steer clear of it (just to be on the safe side).
Hibiscus tea also reduces the level of the female hormone estrogen. Women on contraceptive pills and those undergoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may face fertility-related issues by drinking this tea.
2. It Alters The Effects Of Medications
When consuming a herb (whole, extract, infusion, or capsule), it is necessary to be careful about potential interactions with drugs you may be taking. Some of these interactions are harmful.
In some cases, hibiscus tea may enhance the effects of drugs like anti-cancer drugs. In other cases, it opposes the effects as is the case of anti-malarial drugs like chloroquine and quinine.
3. It Makes You Feel Intoxicated
A number of people complain about the hallucinogenic effects of hibiscus tea. The tea may hinder your focus and make you feel (simply put) drunk.
So, it is not a good idea to drink hibiscus tea before you need to go driving or give an important presentation at work.
4. It Causes Liver And Kidney Damage
Hibiscus tea is completely safe in this regard in small quantities, but up your dosage and you’re putting yourself at risk of liver and kidney damage.1
If you are already diagnosed with a disease of the liver or kidney, refrain from drinking this tea.
5. It Lowers Blood Pressure
As already mentioned, while this is seen as a benefit for those suffering from high blood pressure, context is important.
For instance, if you are already treating your hypertension with blood-pressure-lowering medications, do not drink hibiscus tea. It may lower your blood pressure to dangerously low levels. On the other hand, if your hypertension is borderline and you’re not on medications yet, drinking hibiscus tea is a good idea.
Also, if you suffer from low blood pressure, avoid drinking hibiscus tea completely.
6. It Lowers Blood Sugar
Again, a potential benefit but not when clubbed with blood-sugar-lowering medications. If you are already treating your diabetes with drugs, don’t drink hibiscus tea. Your blood pressure may drop extremely low.
It is generally considered safe to drink hibiscus tea in moderation. However, the same cannot be said with conviction for other forms of hibiscus like extracts, supplements, and capsules.
Because parameters like blood pressure and blood sugar are so critical during surgery, it is also advisable to stop drinking hibiscus tea at least two weeks before surgery.
|↑1||Hopkins, Allison L., Marnie G. Lamm, Janet L. Funk, and Cheryl Ritenbaugh. “Hibiscus sabdariffa L. in the treatment of hypertension and hyperlipidemia: a comprehensive review of animal and human studies.” Fitoterapia 85 (2013): 84-94.|