The flowering hibiscus plant grows primarily in tropical and subtropical areas. The flowers have many health benefits ranging from edible jams and jellies to a variety of medicinal purposes. Generally, for medicinal use, the flowers are brewed into a tea that brings out the plant’s healing properties. Although widely used by herbalists and traditional healers for its health benefits, hibiscus does have the potential for side effects, so use caution before consuming the tea.
The Tufts Journal reports that consuming three cups of hibiscus tea daily was found to significantly lower blood pressure, especially systolic pressure, in hypertensive individuals. To make the tea, mix two tablespoons of dried hibiscus flowers with one cup of boiling water and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Remove the tea leaves and sip throughout the day. Hibiscus tea has a tart, pleasing taste. Avoid adding sugar, which will reduce the effect of antioxidants present in the tea.
Lowers Estrogen Levels
Hibiscus has been shown to have a significant effect on lowering estrogen levels, reports Neeru Vasudeva of Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology. One of the many health benefits of drinking hibiscus tea is its ability to help manage estrogen dominance. Use the tea as described above.
Hibiscus Tea Lowers Cholesterol
A study reported in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in August 2009, discussed how drinking 2 cups of hibiscus tea daily over the period of a month resulted in lowered cholesterol for the participants. Results indicated lowering of tryglicerides, total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, and increased HDL (good) cholesterol.
Protects the Heart
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine goes on to mention that hibiscus tea contains chemical properties called flavonoids, whose health benefits are are high in antioxidants that protect the heart and cardiovascular system.
Rainforest Remedies: One Hundred Healing Herbs of Belize discusses a study that was performed in cooperation with the National Cancer Institute and held at the New York Botanical Gardens on medicinal plants from the Americas. The book states that hibiscus tea showed promise for some patients with regards to its effects on certain cancers. There were indications that the plant may have a preventative effect on brain, skin and possibly stomach cancers.
Side Effects of Hibiscus Tea
Although one of the health benefits of drinking hibiscus tea is that it lowers estrogen, it also can interfere with natural hormonal function and in some cases, conventional drugs such as birth control. Drinking the tea may have an affect on healthy reproduction activity in woman of childbearing years. Additionally, some people have reported hallucinogenic effects or the feeling of being intoxicated after drinking the tea.
Rainforest Remedies: One Hundred Healing Herbs of Belize by Rosita Arvigo, DN and Michael Balick, PhD, 1994
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine , August 2009: Effects of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on Cholesterol
Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology: Post-Coital Antifertility Activity of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
Tufts Journal: Tea Time is Healthy Time
Bastyr Center for Natural Health
The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC)
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