Tangy Hibiscus tea may taste great, but it’s also seriously medicinal. Clinical research finds Hibiscus reduces blood pressure, even beating some ACE inhibitor drugs. Other research finds it also treats urinary tract infections and improves cholesterol levels. Now that’s medicinal.
What is Hibiscus?
The Roselle Hibiscus plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is a native to temperate regions around the world. These include West Africa, Central America, Australia, Thailand, China, India and other warm climes.
The red flower sepal and calyces of the Roselle plant are used to make Hibiscus tea. This tea is a mainstay beverage in many regions, especially in Central America and West Africa. Hibiscus tea is made by boiling the flowers until the water turns red.
Yet the flower is not the only medicinal part of this medicinal plant. Roselle’s bitter roots have been used in traditional medicine for digestive issues. The leaves of the plant are steamed or cooked with dal and rice dishes in Asia. And its stem fiber – bast fibre – is often used to make rope and burlap.
Hibiscus lowers blood pressure
Research from the College of Medicine at Nigeria’s University of Enugu tested 80 adults recently diagnosed with hypertension. They had yet to receive any treatment. They were divided into three groups. One group was treated with Hibiscus. Another group was treated with the hypertension drug, hydrochlorothiazide – an ACE inhibitor. The third group was given a placebo.
After four weeks of treatment, the subjects were tested for blood pressure, urine electrolytes and given blood tests. The researchers found the Hibiscus treatment significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. It also reduced arterial pressure and reduced blood sodium levels.
This reduction in blood pressure from Hibiscus was similar in the drug group. However, the blood pressure reduction lasted longer when the patients were retested after halting their treatments.
Hibiscus beats ACE inhibitor drug
A 2015 study from the Medical Outpatients Clinic at Enugu State University tested 75 adults with high blood pressure. They were also divided into three groups. One group was treated with an extract of Hibiscus. Another group was given 10 milligrams of the ACE-inhibitor hypertension drug Lisinopril. The third group was given a placebo.
All the patients were treated for four weeks. After the four weeks, the researchers found the Hibiscus reduced blood pressure by an average of 76 percent. This beat the Lisinopril drug’s effects, which reduced blood pressure by 65 percent.
Furthermore, the Hibiscus began to significantly reduce systolic blood pressure during the second week of treatment, and continued to reduce it through the fourth week. The Lisinopril didn’t cause significant reduction of systolic blood pressure until the fourth week.
Hibiscus also beat the ACE inhibitor drug in reducing angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and plasma aldosterone levels. The compared levels were 6.6 percent versus 5.6 percent and 32 percent versus 30 percent, respectively.
The Hibiscus treatments also didn’t come with the side effects seen in some in the Lisinopril treated group.
Not the only clinical study
This isn’t the only clinical study confirming Hibiscus’ ability to improve blood pressure. A study from Mexico’s Center of Biomedical Investigation tested 90 patients with hypertension. The patients were treated with 50 mg/day of the drug Captopril (another ACE inhibitor) or with 10 grams of Hibiscus flower mixed with water. Again, the treatment lasted four weeks.
The researchers found the Hibiscus reduced systolic blood pressure from an average of 139 to 124 mm Hg. And the average diastolic blood pressure was reduced from 91 to 79 mm Hg by the Hibiscus treatment over the four weeks. The researchers found the Captopril to also be effective in reducing blood pressure. But the difference in effectiveness was not significant. The researchers concluded:
“The obtained data confirm that the Hibiscus sabdariffa extract, standardized on 9.6mg of total anthocyanins, and captopril 50 mg/day, did not show significant differences relative to hypotensive effect, antihypertensive effectiveness, and tolerability.”
An international review of research that included Australia’s University of Western Australia, Perth analyzed the clinical research through 2014 on Hibiscus and hypertension. The researcher’s meta-analysis of five clinical studies found that Hibiscus reduced systolic blood pressure by an average of 7.58 mmHg and reduced diastolic blood pressure by an average of 3.53 mmHg. The researchers concluded:
“This meta-analysis of RCTs showed a significant effect of Hibiscus sabdariffa in lowering both systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure.”
Hibiscus treats urinary tract infections
One of the mechanisms that provides Hibiscus with its benefit to blood pressure is its improved urinary clearance. For this reason, traditional use of Hibiscus has included urinary tract infections in some regions.
Researchers from Taiwan’s China Medical University put this traditional use to the test in a long-term care facility. Long-term residents at these facilities tend to experience a greater incidence of urinary tract infections. As a result, many residents are connected with urinary catheters. The doctors had the health care center serve residents who were on urinary catheters Hibiscus teas regularly. The researchers found the Hibiscus resulted in significantly fewer urinary tract infections.
The researchers also tested the mechanisms of Hibiscus with regard to the urinary tract. They found that Hibiscus significantly reduced renal inflammation by virtue of reducing LPS-induced inflammatory factors. This helped urinary clearance and reduced infections among the residents. The researchers concluded:
“This is the first report applying clinical observation-guided transcriptomic study to explore the application and mechanism of roselle [Hibiscus] on urinary tract infections. Our findings suggested that roselle drink ameliorated LPS-induced renal inflammation via downregulation of cytokine network, pro-inflammatory product production, and NF-κB pathway. Moreover, this report suggested the potential benefit of roselle drink on urinary tract infections.”
Hibiscus improves cholesterol levels
Multiple clinical studies have also found that Hibiscus reduces low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c) and triglyceride levels. It also increases levels of the “good” high-density cholesterol (HDL-c).
These results taken from clinical research around the world can only mean one thing: Hibiscus increases cardiovascular health. It reduces blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels and improves the health of the kidneys and urinary tract.
Wow – nature can be seriously medicinal and taste great at the same time.
Discover: Organic Hibiscus Tea
Nwachukwu DC, Aneke EI, Nwachukwu NZ, Azubike N, Obika LF. Does consumption of an aqueous extract of Hibscus sabdariffa affect renal function in subjects with mild to moderate hypertension? J Physiol Sci. 2017 Jan;67(1):227-234.
Chou ST, Lo HY, Li CC, Cheng LC, Chou PC, Lee YC, Ho TY, Hsiang CY. Exploring the effect and mechanism of Hibiscus sabdariffa on urinary tract infection and experimental renal inflammation. J Ethnopharmacol. 2016 Dec 24;194:617-625. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2016.10.059.
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 Sep-Oct;47(5):540-5. doi: 10.4103/0253-7613.165194.
Nwachukwu DC, Aneke E, Nwachukwu NZ, Obika LF, Nwagha UI, Eze AA. Effect of Hibiscus sabdariffaon blood pressure and electrolyte profile of mild to moderate hypertensive Nigerians: A comparative study with hydrochlorothiazide. Niger J Clin Pract. 2015 Nov-Dec;18(6):762-70. doi: 10.4103/1119-3077.163278.
Herrera-Arellano A, Flores-Romero S, Chávez-Soto MA, Tortoriello J. Effectiveness and tolerability of a standardized extract from Hibiscus sabdariffa in patients with mild to moderate hypertension: a controlled and randomized clinical trial. Phytomedicine. 2004 Jul;11(5):375-82.
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 Jun;33(6):1119-27. doi: 10.1097/HJH.0000000000000585.