Diet and Nutrition

Health Benefits and Side Effects of Hibiscus Tea

Health Benefits and Side Effects of Hibiscus Tea

Key Takeaways

  • The flower, fruit and the calyx of the hibiscus plant is loaded with medicinal benefits.
  • Hibiscus is mostly beneficial for lowering blood pressure and weight management.
  • Hibiscus tea can be consumed hot , iced or even as a sports drink.

Hibiscus plant, also called as Roselle, is very well known as a large colorful flower which makes quite a lovely decorative addition at home or in the garden. The scientific name for this plant is “Hibiscus sabdariffa” and it originated in Africa. They also have medicinal benefits. The flowers and leaves of this plant are also used to make teas and liquid extracts, which are then used to treat various conditions.

One can confuse this flower with the other red coloured hibiscus flower called hibiscus ascetosella which is a decoration flower, but with no medicinal value.

Hibiscus tea is generally considered safe, however there are still confirmations required on how this tea would work for pregnant women, those breastfeeding babies, small children and people who are suffering from kidney and liver disease.

Hibiscus tea is composed of 15 to 30 percent of organic acids like tartaric acid, citric acid and malic acid. One can find these types of acid commonly in fruits such as grapes and wine. These help to boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, improve the quality of the skin, reduce inflammation in the body and aid in better digestion. Due to the choleretic and diuretic effects, hibiscus tea is also well known to control the blood viscosity.

Historical Uses of the Hibiscus plant

In the historical period, hibiscus was widely used across various cultures. The main use of this plant was as a remedy to treat various conditions. In the Egyptian era, this plant was used as tea to lower the body temperature along with treating any nerve or heart diseases. It was also used as a diuretic for increasing the production of urine for those facing issues with urine.

In the land of Iran, it is a common practice to drink hibiscus sour tea as a cure for high blood pressure. In various parts of Africa, the sour tea is used to treat medical conditions such as constipation, liver disease, symptoms of cold and liver disease. If they would have any skin wounds, then the people would make the pulp of the hibiscus leaves and apply it on the affected area.

Characteristics of Hibiscus

The flowers of the hibiscus plant come in varied colours. Some are red (the most popular ones which are available everywhere), yellow, white and peach coloured.

The flowers are very big, almost six inches wide. Hibiscus is also find across various nursery and garden stores. The red hibiscus flowers are most commonly cultivated which are then used for medicinal purpose, decorative purpose and as a dietary supplement as well.

Uses of Hibiscus

One can prepare hibiscus tea; it has a tart taste, hence it is known as sour tea. This tea is prepared with the mixture using dried hibiscus flowers, leaves and the cup shaped centre of the flower, which is also known as dark red calyces. These calyces are often one of the most important ingredients used while preparing the herbal tea.

Once the flower is in full bloom, the petals fall off on its own. The calyces, which are in the centre of the flower, then turn into pods which hold the seeds of the plant.

The taste of hibiscus tea is very similar to cranberry juice which can be described as tart. Hence, one would need to add sugar or honey to increase the level of sweetness depending on one’s taste. Also, one can add other spices if required such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Hibiscus tea is very low in calories and it is also caffeine-free.

Hibiscus tea can be consumed as both, iced or hot tea. During winters, if you would want to keep yourself warm, then go for the brewed one and drink it immediately. It would not take too much time to prepare the tea. During summers, one can go in for iced hibiscus tea. It would take approximately 20 minutes to prepare the tea and then consume it to cool yourself from the outside heat in a refreshing way.

Preparation of Hot Hibiscus tea:

All one would need is two teaspoons of dried hibiscus calyces, a cup of boiling water, sweetener of one’s choice, if required and any other flavours if required to be added. The process of preparation is very simple, just like brewing any other herbal tea.

Pour the boiling water in a teapot and add the dried hibiscus calyces to it. Let it brew for five to ten minutes, one can brew it for longer period, if it needs to be made stronger. Add the flavour of your choice and strain it in a cup. Add the sweetener and serve it hot.

Preparation of Iced Hibiscus tea:

All one would need is ½ cup dried hibiscus calyces along with four cups of chilled water, three to four ice cubes and sugar syrup for sweet taste. The process is to add the hibiscus in a jug filled with chilled water and mix it well. Refrigerate the mixture for 12 to 14 hours. Gradually with time, the water will take up the colour and flavour of hibiscus. Strain this mixture in a cup. Add sweetener, if required and also add the ice cubes. The tea is ready to be served.

Nutrient value of Hibiscus Tea

100 grams of hibiscus tea would contain the below nutrients:

  • 0.7 grams of fat
  • 9 mg of potassium
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • 0.4 grams of protein
  • 3 mg of sodium
  • 6 grams of sugar

It also contains vitamin A, vitamin C and iron.

Health Benefits of Hibiscus Tea

Today, this plant is popularly known for its high potential to reduce high blood pressure. There have been studies which have shown that the hibiscus tea and the plant itself have effects on lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Hibiscus plant has also shown potential benefit in the treatment of cancer, weight loss and other uses.

Managing Blood Pressure:

Studies have shown that by consuming hibiscus tea, one can regulate blood pressure, specially for adults suffering from pre-hypertension and mild hypertension. It is said that hibiscus has anti-hypertensive properties which are very beneficial for those suffering from hypertension and it also reduces the risk of various cardiovascular illnesses.

Due to the anti-inflammatory properties present in the tea, the blood pressure can be lowered by up to 10 points. Hence for the improvement to take place, one needs to consume daily at least three cups of hibiscus tea for a couple of weeks at a stretch. There are diuretic properties also present in the tea, which helps to increase urination in a person.

Protects the Liver:

Hibiscus tea contains antioxidant properties which help to treat various liver problems. The main work of antioxidants is to protect the body from any diseases. The antioxidants acheive this by neutralising the free radicals which are present in the body tissues and the various cells. Thus, it is said that consumption of hibiscus tea provides long lifespan and also maintains a healthy body, along with its organs.

Lowers Cholesterol:

As mentioned earlier, hibiscus tea has antioxidant properties which help in lowering the bad cholesterol in the body. This in turn protects the heart from any diseases along with protecting the blood vessels from getting damaged. Hibiscus contains hypoglycaemic and hypolipidemic properties, which are known to be beneficial for those suffering from sugar problems such as diabetes. Consumption of hibiscus tea lowers triglycerides and low density lipo-protein thus managing any unpredictable diseases.

Relief from menstrual pain:

Hibiscus tea is also known to provide relief from cramps which one goes through during the menstrual cycle. The medicinal properties in the tea help to balance the hormones, which in turn reduces other menstruation problems such as depression, sudden changes in the mood and over eating due to depression or stress.

Contains antidepressant properties:

There are various vitamins and minerals such as flavonoids having antidepressant properties present in hibiscus tea. The consumption of this tea helps to sooth the nervous system thus reducing signs of anxiety and depression. A sense of relaxation is created overall in the mind and body.

Contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties:

Hibiscus tea is a good source of ascorbic acid which is also known as vitamin C. This is an essential nutrient which is required by our body. This nutrient helps to boost and stimulate the various activities of the immune system. Hibiscus tea is loaded with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties which help to prevent cold and flu. Due to the cooling effect in the tea, any discomfort caused by fever is also treated.

Helps in weight loss:

Due to its various properties, hibiscus tea is very well known for reducing weight. When people consume food rich in carbohydrates, it means one is actually consuming sugar and starch, hence it is likely that the person will gain weight. Hibiscus tea is known to lower the absorption of starch and glucose, which is known to reduce weight. Hibiscus inhibits amylase, which is an enzyme that helps in the digestion of starch and carbohydrates. So by drinking hibiscus tea, one can restrict the absorption of these fatty foods. Hence, one must have come across hibiscus extracts as an ingredient mentioned in many of the weight loss products.

Good drink while one is thirsty: 

Hibiscus tea can be consumed just like sports drinks to quench your thirst. Some people also consume hibiscus tea in the form of iced tea. By including this drink as part of the daily diet, it has the ability to cool down the body very fast. The various medicinal properties of help to flush out any excess fluids and toxins from the body, thus maintaining a healthy body.

Promotes good digestion:

Hibiscus tea is known to aid digestion. It has the ability to improve bowel movement and urination. It is also used to treat constipation owing to its diuretic properties, thus leading to losing weight and improving the health of the gastrointestinal system, which reduces the risk of colorectal cancer.

Apart from the above benefits, hibiscus tea is also known to:

Side Effects of Hibiscus Tea

Even though hibiscus is considered as a medicinal plant with varied nutrients in the form of minerals and vitamins, following are the possible side effects which one should be aware of:

Pregnancy:

Hibiscus tea is not to be consumed by pregnant women mainly due to its emmenagogue effects. This effect can possibly stimulate menstruation or flow of blood in the uterus or pelvic region. For those women who are already undergoing treatment related to hormones or consuming birth control pills, it is first important to consult the doctor before taking in hibiscus tea.

Affects the levels of estrogen:

Estrogen levels can dip down with the consumption of hibiscus tea, specially for those who are using hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Hallucination effect:

This is quite rare, but some people would face issues of intoxication or experience hallucination after consumption of hibiscus tea. Hence, one should be cautious and keep a watch for any changes in one's behaviour after consuming this drink. For safety purposes, do not drive or try anything which would need presence of mind.

Allergic reaction:

Some people could have an allergic reaction after consuming this drink, in the form of sinus, itchy red eyes, fever.

Can create complications for cancer:

A person undergoing cancer treatment such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy should avoid the consumption of hibiscus tea, since it can cause medical complications, if taken along with cancer medications.

Blood pressure:

One of the most important health benefits of hibiscus is to lower blood pressure. Due to this health benefit, hibiscus is not recommended for people who are already suffering from low blood pressure condition. This condition is called as hypotension. If a person with low blood pressure consumes this drink, then they may experience medical conditions such as dizziness, nausea, faintness and at times, it can lead to further complication of damage to the heart or brain.