Hibiscus is a beautiful plant that can brighten up any garden. This flowering plant primarily grows in tropical and warm regions, but it can also be grown seasonally in other areas where the climate is only warm for part of the year.
Fresh and dried hibiscus flowers are edible. They are most commonly used to make herbal tea. The tea contains vitamins C and A, zinc and several minerals. It also contains 15 to 30 percent organic acids, including citric acid, malic acid and tartaric acid. It also contains polysaccharides and flavonoids.
The dried flowers can also be candied and used as a garnish, usually for desserts.
Apart from décor and dietary uses, there are a lot of medicinal uses of hibiscus leaves and flowers. In Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, they have been used for treating several ailments and conditions for centuries.
The best way to derive the health benefits from this herb is to prepare hibiscus tea.
- Add 2 to 3 teaspoons of dried hibiscus petals to 2 cups of water.
- Bring it to a boil, then let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- Strain it, and add raw honey and a little lemon juice for taste.
- Drink this tea on a regular basis to boost your health.
Here are the top 10 surprising benefits of hibiscus.
1. Lowers Cholesterol Levels
Hibiscus tea is very effective in lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol) levels. It is particularly helpful for people with Type 2 diabetes.
It exhibits anti-atherosclerosis activity and contains antioxidant compounds that help prevent the oxidation of LDL. Also, it prevents plaque buildup in the arteries, thereby lowering your cholesterol levels and preventing atherosclerosis and heart disease.
In a 2009 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, diabetes patients were either given hibiscus or black tea twice a day for one month. Researchers found that people who drank hibiscus tea ended up with higher levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol) and lower levels of LDL cholesterol. People who drank black tea also had higher levels of HDL cholesterol, but their LDL levels did not change.
- Drink hibiscus tea twice daily for a few weeks to help control your cholesterol level.
- You can opt to take standardized hibiscus extract twice daily. Consult your doctor for the appropriate dosage.
2. Regulates Blood Pressure
Hibiscus is also beneficial at controlling high blood pressure.
It contains potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce blood pressure levels significantly. Being diuretic in nature, it also increases urination that helps lower blood pressure.
Plus, this herb speeds up the metabolism and helps with healthy, gradual weight loss.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Nutrition reports that daily consumption of hibiscus tea, in an amount readily incorporated into the diet, lowers blood pressure in pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults. Hibiscus tea may prove an effective component of the dietary changes recommended for people with high blood pressure.
Drink tea prepared from fresh or dried hibisucus flowers 2 or 3 times a day to keep your blood pressure in check.
3. Protects the Liver
Not just your heart, hibiscus is also beneficial for your liver health.
Its antioxidant properties help prevent liver damage by neutralizing the free radicals present in the body’s tissues and cells.
The anthocyanin compounds in hibiscus reduce oxidative liver damage and inflammatory liver lesions, which can cause liver problems.
A 2000 study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology speculates that, based on the results of the animal study, hibiscus anthocyanins (a group of natural pigments in the flowers) may play a role in the prevention of oxidative damage in living systems.
To ensure good liver health, drink hibiscus tea once or twice daily.
4. Aids Weight Loss
This beautiful herb also aids weight loss. Being loaded with nutrients, flavonoids and various minerals, hibiscus lowers the body’s absorption of fats and carbohydrates. This in turn can help you lose weight.
It contains high concentrations of antioxidants that aid weight loss by boosting metabolism. Also, being diuretic in nature, this herb helps shed water weight.
A 2014 study published in the Food & Function Journal reports that people who took tablets made from hibiscus extracts for 12 weeks showed reduced waist circumference, body fat percentage and hip-to-waist ratio.
- Drink 2 to 3 cups of hibiscus tea daily to support your weight loss efforts.
- You can opt to take hibiscus in supplement form, after consulting your doctor.
5. Fights Hair Loss
If you are worried about hair loss, hibiscus can help fight it.
Being rich in vitamins A and C as well as amino acids, hibiscus can combat hair loss and induce hair growth. It also cures dandruff, prevents split ends and prevents premature graying.
A 2003 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that hibiscus leaf extract, when compared to its flower extract, exhibits more potency on hair growth.
Another study published in 2013 in the Egyptian Dermatology Online Journal found that ethanolic extract of hibiscus leaves possess effects against androgenic alopecia in male rats. Hence, it may be used in the future as a hair-restoring agent for men suffering from alopecia.
- Add 8 to 10 Chinese hibiscus leaves and flowers to 2 cups of extra-virgin coconut oil.
- Heat the solution until the flowers turn black.
- Strain the oil and allow it to cool.
- Apply the oil on your hair before going to bed and do a thorough massage.
- Wash your hair in the morning.
- Repeat this a few times a week.
6. Conditions Hair
If your hair looks dull and lacks shine, a hibiscus hair mask is great for maintaining healthy and shiny hair.
The lathery and mucilaginous nature of hibiscus flowers and leaves help mildly condition the hair and keep it bouncier.
- Put 8 to 10 fresh hibiscus flowers and leaves in a grinder.
- Add 3 tablespoons of plain yogurt and grind them together.
- Add 1 tablespoon of honey to the paste and mix well.
- Apply this hair mask on your damp hair.
- Wear a shower cap and let the hair mask sit for about 30 minutes.
- Rinse it out with water, then shampoo your hair as usual.
- Use this conditioning hair mask once a week.