Hibiscus Tea: 7 Uses and Benefits Plus How To Make It

a cup of red roselle hibiscus tea

How This Exotic Herb Is Great For Your Health

Hibiscus is a plant believed to be native to Africa and it brews up a pleasantly exotic tea. With a typically bold, red color and a slightly berry-like, tart flavor, hibiscus tea has many health benefits.

What Exactly Is Hibiscus Tea?

Hibiscus tea comes from the Hibiscus sabdariffa flower also known as Roselle Hibiscus Sabdariffa.

When the Hibiscus sabdariffa roselle flower blooms, it is supported by leaf-like sepals. After the bloom drops, the sepals form their own accessory fruit.

The sepals are steeped in hot water to extract the flavor and nutrients and make tea. Many consume it as a hot tea or an iced tea. It tastes a bit like cranberries and is sometimes referred to as “sour tea.”

The herb comes in a red and a white variety. Hibiscus can also be delivered in the form of a tincture, extract or capsule.

According to Nile Valley Herbs, hibiscus tea has been consumed for centuries in the ancient cultures of Egypt, China, Mexico and the Caribbean. Examine.com explains that roselle hibiscus sabdariffa extract has often been praised for its medicinal qualities.

According to Healthline, hibiscus was used in Egypt to cool the body. It was also used as a treatment for cardiovascular and nervous system disorders.

In other areas of Africa, the plant was used to remedy liver disease, viruses and digestive concerns. The herb has even been used to treat head lice in a 2002 study.

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7 Uses and Benefits Of Hibiscus Tea

#1 – Hibiscus Tea Can Improve Heart Health

Several trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of hibiscus for cardiovascular health.

A 2011 study found that people with high cholesterol experienced a reduction in triglyceride levels after taking the extract for 12 weeks. Another trial found participants with metabolic syndrome who took hibiscus extract for 31 days saw a 10 percent increase in their HDL, or “good,” cholesterol.

However, a study conducted on people with cholesterol levels between 130 and 190 mg/dL found no change in cholesterol levels when participants took 1 gram of extract per day.

Several rodent studies have connected high levels of hibiscus consumption with a reduction in triglycerides.

#2 – Hibiscus Can Help You Manage Blood Pressure

The Hibiscus plant is not only beautiful but an ACE inhibitor. It interferes with an enzyme constricting the blood vessels. By allowing the blood vessels to relax and dilate, hibiscus tea can help reduce blood pressure.

A 2009 study found that people with slight hypertension were able to lower their blood pressure using hibiscus tea. The participants were not taking blood pressure medication and had mildly elevated blood pressure levels. The group consuming three cups of hibiscus tea saw a greater reduction in blood pressure than those who consumed a placebo drink.

In 2010, researchers reviewed four clinical trials looking at hibiscus tea’s effectiveness in treating hypertension. Although the researchers found flaws in three of the studies, they came to the conclusion that hibiscus tea may help treat high blood pressure.

People with extreme hypertension may not be able to stop taking blood pressure medication in exchange for hibiscus tea. However, people with pre-hypertension or slightly elevated blood pressure levels may be able to prevent it from getting worse by drinking hibiscus.

#3 – Hibiscus Tea May Help With Weight Loss

Although not enough studies have been conducted to prove the connection between hibiscus and weight management, results are promising. Some research points to hibiscus tea’s effect on preventing weight gain.

This effect could be caused by the increase in water intake during the study. Drinking more water in the form of herbal tea may cause people to eat less. Replacing sugary beverages with hibiscus tea can help you reduce caloric intake and stay full between meals.

Hibiscus tea may also help the body use sugar more efficiently. When you eat sugar, your blood glucose level spikes.

Your body begins to create insulin to bring your blood sugar back down. Research shows that hibiscus can help normalize blood sugar and insulin levels in diabetics.

Hibiscus may also lower the risk of obesity associated with diabetes. In fact, scientists have found that the consumption of 200 mg of hibiscus per kg of body weight managed cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as Lovastatin, a drug administered for the prevention of heart disease.

#4 – Hibiscus Tea Can Help You Detox

Hibiscus tea has diuretic effects, according to research. It can also help prevent calcium deposits in the kidneys.

If you’re working to detoxify your body, increased urine output can help flush out toxins more quickly. The diuretic effects can also help you eliminate retained fluid, losing water weight and reducing swelling and bloating.

A few studies have also shown hibiscus tea can protect the liver from damage. One study found this was due largely to the antioxidants in hibiscus tea. Its high levels of antioxidants reduce oxidative stress which can adversely affect the liver.

#5 – Hibiscus Tea Can Relieve Constipation

According to Web MD, hibiscus is also a gentle laxative. It may be used to remedy problems with constipation. Allowing the body to properly eliminate waste can improve detoxification.

Some experts believe hibiscus can reduce spasms and cramping in the stomach and intestines. Therefore, consuming hibiscus tea could help alleviate abdominal pain.

#6 – Hibiscus Tea May Protect Against Cancer

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities of hibiscus tea may slow the growth of cancer cells. Researchers have found that the acid in hibiscus can kill tumor cells.

One of the acids found in hibiscus is ascorbic acid, commonly known as vitamin C.

You may already think of vitamin C as an immune booster. It also has powerful antioxidant capabilities. This helps it combat free radicals and eliminate damage to cancer-causing cells.

Nutra Ingredients reports that beverages made with green tea and hibiscus have more antioxidants than any other beverage.

#7 – Hibiscus Tea Can Cool You Down

Whether you have a fever or have been playing out in the sun too long, you can cool down by drinking hibiscus tea. According to Organic Facts, hibiscus tea has been used to treat fevers.

Hibiscus can also quench your thirst. It contains no caffeine, but it has more vitamins and minerals than water. Drinking hibiscus tea can replenish your system if you need extra hydration.

#8 – Hibiscus Can Calm You Down

Drinking tea is a calming ritual in and of itself. If you add hibiscus to your tea, you may feel its anti-anxiety and sedative effects.

Research shows that people who take hibiscus may fall asleep faster and sleep longer. They may also experience a reduction in anxiety.

For some people, one dose does not instill these effects. Repeated doses may increase the herb’s calming effects.

picture of hibiscus tea mixed with fruit, how to make it

How To Make Hibiscus Tea

Fortunately, hibiscus tea is widely available in tea bags or as a loose, dried herb. It should be steeped in hot water to make a drinkable beverage.

According to Examine.com, some of the health benefits of hibiscus are diminished if the tea is exposed to high heat. To maximize the health benefits, remove the boiling water from the heat for a minute before pouring it over the tea bags or dried hibiscus herb.

You can also steep the tea in room temperature water. To do this, pour room temperature water over tea bags or the dried herb. Let it steep for at least two hours before drinking it.

Others would prefer drinking a cold Hibiscus iced tea.

Hibiscus tea blends well with other flavors. Some alternative ways to drink brewed hibiscus tea are:

  • Mixed with fresh fruit or vegetable juice
  • As the liquid in a smoothie
  • As the liquid in oatmeal to add a sweet taste
  • In combination with other mint, floral, citrus or spiced teas

How Much Herb Should You Use?

If you’re using a tea bag, the general recommendation is to use 8 ounces of water for each bag. If you’re using the dried herb, begin by using about 2 tablespoons of tea per 8 ounces of water. You can adjust the strength to your liking.

Although hibiscus is a natural substance, caution should be taken when determining the appropriate dosage. Human studies have not determined a toxic level of hibiscus consumption.

However, research on rats has found that high levels of consumption of Hibiscus sabdariffa can lead to chronic adverse effects.

One trial found that baby mice consuming hibiscus extract experienced delayed onset of puberty. Another study found hibiscus adversely affected sperm cells. However, the research is largely inconclusive and found problems mainly when the hibiscus was consumed at a rate of more than 200 mg per kg of body weight per day.

It is generally recommended humans do not exceed a dosage of 32 mg per kg of body weight per day. That equals about 2.2 grams of hibiscus for someone who weighs 150 pounds.

Is Hibiscus Tea Safe?

Hibiscus tea is generally regarded as safe in moderation. However, there are some health indications associated with the herb.

According to SFGate, hibiscus tea can interfere with the female reproductive system. It should be avoided by pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.

Anecdotal reports online state that hibiscus tea can have hallucinogenic effects. Consuming the herbal tea may make it more difficult for some people to focus. Experts recommend you avoid driving or operating machinery until you are aware of the herb’s effects on you.

Hibiscus may also adversely interact with certain drugs, including cancer medications, acetaminophen and anti-malaria drugs.

Superfoods Scientific Research explains that people with the following conditions may want to avoid the herb:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Hormone imbalances

Is Hibiscus A Miracle Cure?

Not enough research has been done on hibiscus to recommend its use as a treatment for cholesterol, hypertension or cancer. However, it does have beneficial effects on your health.

Adding hibiscus to a healthy diet can increase the amount of antioxidants you consume and help you maintain good health. Hibiscus can be purchased as a tea, a dried plant or a dietary supplement.