The Wonderful Herbal Benefits of Hibiscus
Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa), has a long history of use around the world, including various regions of India, northern Africa, and here in the Western world. It is estimated that people have been cultivating it for about 6,000 years…and that’s no surprise because of the amazing benefits of hibiscus!
Hibiscus may have originated in northern Africa, but since it’s been cultivated for so long, it now grows throughout the tropical and subtropical world. It is impossible to definitively know its origins. It has been used as food, medicine, and even for its fibers in India for thousands of years too (in ayurveda).
Traditional Uses of Hibiscus
Hibiscus has been used throughout the world for its heart-related benefits. While I was living in Panama, “agua de Jamaica” was always available for both heart health and helping type 2 diabetes. You didn’t have to look far to find it at a restaurant or street vendor! The medicinal properties of hibiscus have been known for thousands of years, dating as far back as and even beyond Hippocrates.
The dried calyces (flower sepals) are sometimes sold in large bags at local markets. They can be a wonderful way to get to know your farmer. Just looking at the big bowls of hibiscus brings a smile to everyone’s face!
Hibiscus has a tangy and tart flavor with a hint of sweetness. Teas and beverages make a refreshing and soothing drink during hot summer months. At the same time, they provide a soothing (demulcent) element that coats mucus membranes that can easily be parched in arid climates.
The Health Benefits of Hibiscus
As both an herbalist and nutritionist, it always makes me smile when research catches up with what we’ve known for thousands of years! Findings suggest that certain polyphenols in hibiscus benefit our mitochondrial function within the cells, providing energy homeostasis and protecting the cardiovascular system. These effects can mean beneficial changes in inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, and oxidation, which are often related to heart health.
A review from the American Botanical Council concluded that:
“The effects of hibiscus on blood lipids and hypertension seem to be dose and duration dependent.”
Over the years I have used Hibiscus for a variety of conditions, and especially for:
- Modulating inflammation
- As a diuretic
- Blood pressure-related issues
- Supporting healthy iron levels in people with anemia
- Calming certain muscle spasms
- As a digestive aid
- Diabetes (Type 2)
- Various Cancers
The benefits of hibiscus are wonderful, but don’t get crazy with it, or really any herb. Our diets play a huge role in our health and should be our starting point. Think nutrient density, fiber, water, and physical exercise. Herbal remedies can be a great supplement on top of these.
Each of us has a different health story, so it’s always good to ask your ND, Herbalist, or practitioner about using hibiscus or other herbs you might be unsure of–especially if you have health issues. Remember, I can always help guide you through a consultation right here!
Bring the Benefits of Hibiscus Into Your Life
As we move into the new year, let us kick back with a cup of hibiscus tea and take a look at what we would like to improve in our lives, including getting wonderful doses of Vitamin C, β-carotene, and natural calcium. Here are a few of my favorite teas to get the benefits of this flower!
(Remember, you can always get samples of any that sound tasty!)
Hibiscus Mint Tea: This brilliant red tea is a tangy and refreshing drink that will quench your thirst on a hot summer day. Delicious hot or cold, and also makes a wonderful sun tea! Get it here.
Hibiscus Berry Bomb Tea: This delightful blend of berries, natural fruits, and spices combine to create a sweet summertime treat! A hot or cold caffeine-free cup of pure delight that you can get right here.
Memory Tea: Use the benefits of hibiscus and eleuthero to rejuvenate your brain function with this powerful blend of herbs. Get it here.
Heartfelt Relief Tea: A caffeine-free blend of herbs to support the heart and reduce body tension. It works wonders on those who experience “stress gut." Get it here to calm the system and keep that heart healthy!
Parade Day Tea: A tart and tangy berry lemonade with hibiscus that’s delicious as a hot, cold, or sun tea. Find it here.
Sweet Elderberry Wine Tea: If you have a day where you just want to kick back and relax, but without the alcohol, this is the perfect tea for you. Its elderberry, hibiscus, and licorice combine for a delicious drink. Get it here.
Elderberry Goodness Herbal Tea: This fruity and floral tea blend is a healthful combination of berries and herbs that may help support a strong immune system and promote overall good health and well-being. Find it right here.
White Strawberry Tea: This is a wonderfully complex blend of white tea with strawberry overtones and a hint of vanilla. The berries and flowers make it a light and refreshing iced or hot tea! Find it here.
*For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. (Because why would we want to do that?)