By Liliana Usvat
Originally from Angola, hibiscus is now cultivated throughout tropical and subtropical regions, especially in Sudan, Egypt, Thailand, Mexico, and China.
Hibiscus flowers are some of the most beautiful blossoms in diferent sweet colors – precious jewel for every garden, producing fresh bloom every day.
Hibiscus plants love full sun in warm climate and grow in subtropical and tropical regions even in dry sandy soil without any special care.
Hibiscus tea is a tisane or “herbal tea” consumed both hot and cold by people around the world. The drink is an infusion made from crimson or deep magenta-coloured calyces (sepals) of the Hibiscus sabdariffa flower.
It is also referred to as roselle (another common name for the hibiscus flower) or rosella (Australian), agua de Jamaica and/or flor de Jamaica in Latin America, Arhul ka phool in india karkadé in Levant, Egypt, Italy and Sudan, Chai Kujarat in Iraq, Chai Torsh in Iran, gumamela in the Philippines, bissap, tsoborodo or wonjo in West Africa, sorrel in Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, red sorrel in the wider Caribbean, and other names in other regions, including the U.S., where it is sometimes known as simply Jamaica.
Hibiscus tea has a tart, cranberry-like flavor, and sugar is often added to sweeten the beverage. The tea contains vitamin C and minerals and is used traditionally as a mild medicine. In west Sudan a white hibiscus flower is favored for its bitter taste and is customarily served to guests.
Hibiscus tea contains 15-30% organic acids, including citric acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid. It also contains acidic polysaccharides and flavonoid glycosides, such as cyanidin and delphinidin, that give it its characteristic deep red colour.
Recent studies show that hibiscus tea can lower blood pressure as effectively as some standard hypertension drugs can. Hibiscus is widely consumed around the world as a ruby-colored, lemony beverage (it’s the main ingredient in Red Zinger tea). Hibiscus is safe and, unlike most blood pressure drugs, rarely causes side effects.
Dose recommendations vary from about 1 teaspoon of dried “flowers” (technically, the calyxes surrounding the flowers) per cup of boiling water up to the 5 teaspoons used in one of the Mexican studies.
Acne & sunburn – Hibiscus help unclog closed pores. Crushed the leaves and flowers of the hibiscus and spread a paste on your face on the acne affected area. Keep it for 15 minutes and wash off with water. Do the same with sunburn.
Eczema/Skin allergies – Hibiscus flower extracts are used in many herbal ointments in the treatment of eczema and allergic problems.
Dandruff & Hair loss – Add coconut oil or sesame oil to a bunch of hibiscus flowers and leaves. Heat it at low fire. Cool. After cooling, strain the oil from the mixture and store in clean containers. Massage this oil on scalp and leave it for an hour. Care should be taken to rinse the oil out with very mild shampoo. Hair loss caused by thyroid problem can also be remedied by drinking hibiscus tea or applying the hibiscus to the scalp.
Promotes Hair Growth and Prevents Premature Hair Greying – same as the procedure above. Hibiscus also stimulates blood circulation and ensures the supply of essential nutrients to the hair follicles.
Fever and Hot flashes – Hibiscus will help cool the body temperature down.
Scientific interest in the hibiscus plant has grown recently, particularly with regard to its use in treating the signs and symptoms of metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome – Insulin resistance, obesity, hypertension, and dyslipidemia are strongly associated with metabolic syndrome (MeSy), which is considered to be a reversible clinical stage before its evolution to coronary heart disease and diabetes. Currently, the antihypertensive and hypolipidemic properties of aqueous Hibiscus sabdariffa extracts (HSE) have been demonstrated in clinical trials and in vivo experiments.
Uses Around the World
• In Egypt and Sudan, hibiscus is used to help maintain a normal body temperature, support heart health, and encourage fluid balance.*
• North Africans have used hibiscus internally for supporting upper respiratory health including the throat throat and also use it topically to support skin health
• In Europe, hibiscus has been employed to support upper respiratory health, alleviate occasional constipation, and promote proper circulation.* It is commonly used in combination with lemon balm and St John’s Wort for restlessness and occasional difficulty falling asleep.*
• Hibiscus is traditionally used for supporting normal blood pressure maintenance in Iran — a use that has been validated in several recent studies
The plant is boiled in water are used as a drink in bilious attacks in West Africa.
In the Philippines the bitter root is used as a tonic and to encourage appetite. Angolans use the mucilaginous leaves as an emollient remedy to soothe a cough.
In China the seeds are used for their oil and many Egyptians now use it to lower their blood pressure.
The Cubans puts some leaves in hot water and drink as a tea to calm the nerves. Hibiscus flower extract has been used in many folk remedies for high blood pressure by decreasing the viscosity of the blood.
Other compounds found in the red flowers have a choleretic effect (enhancing the liver function). The flowers have been found to stimulate intestinal peristalsis, helping to relieve constipation in a mild way. The antioxidant compounds like flavonoids, polyphenolics and anthocyanins, contained in the flower contribute to health and anti-aging in general.
How to prepare hibiscus – pick the buds in the morning, clean and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them that same day. Many different parts of the plant can be used – the calyx is the part that holds the petals, like a small crown.
If you have a dehydrator – to assure the best quality and preservation of the natural oils and plant properties, they should be dehydrated under 40 degrees C.
When using the fresh hibiscus petals make sure they have not been exposed to pesticides, fertilizers etc.
Chop up the fresh calyxes and add to fruit salads or as a side dish the calyxes can be very lightly saute in a little coconut oil and seasoned.
Place the hibiscus calyxes in a pan with some water, whole spices like cinnamon, cloves, some grated fresh ginger, bring to the boil, then turn off the heat, leave to settle for a little while, drink while still warm.
Hibiscus Sabdariffa L. (common name Roselle ) is a member of the Malvaceae, or mallow, family. It originated in Egypt and can now be found growing in warm places around the world including India, Africa, Sudan, Jamaica, China, Philippines, and the United States.
Safe and gentle
Hibiscus is a safe remedy to take with no proven adverse reactions or drug interactions.
There is no standardised dose but for addressing cholesterol issues try taking the equivalent of 1,000 mg dried herb 3 times a day; 1 cup of tea twice a day, or 100 mg of standardized extract twice a day. For hypertension try 1 cup of tea twice a day or dried powdered hibiscus extract providing 250 mg anthocyanins, per day.
Many species are grown for their showy flowers or used as landscape shrubs, and are used to attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.
One species of Hibiscus, known as kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus), is extensively used in paper-making
- Cut a sprig that is 4 to 6 inches (10.16 to 15.24 cm) long just below the last leaf node.
- Remove everything except the top leaves.
- Prepare a one gallon pot with soil that is well draining.
- Water the soil thoroughly.
- Poke your finger into the soil and place the bottom of the cutting in.
- Push the moistened soil around the cutting.
- Plant the hibiscus in the partial shade and make sure that the soil stays damp until the plant has rooted.
- Wait 8 weeks for the hibiscus cuttings to be thoroughly rooted and then transfer the plant to a bigger pot.