Q. I heard a rumor that a drink made from dried hibiscus flowers can lower blood pressure. Is there any truth to this?

A. Hibiscus flower tea is part of traditional folk medicine in many cultures around the world. Scientific scrutiny shows that its effect on blood pressure is more than a rumor, however. A study at Tufts University found that several cups a day can help lower blood pressure in people with mild hypertension (Journal of Nutrition, Feb., 2010).

Mexican scientists found that that the red pigments in hibiscus flowers, anthocyanins, act like antihypertensive medicines called ACE inhibitors (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Jan. 8, 2010). This is the same action that makes drugs like captopril and lisinopril so effective.

Such medications are among the most widely prescribed blood pressure pills in the world. We find it fascinating that a folk remedy works through the same mechanism as such beneficial drugs.

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  1. Mary Love

    How many hibiscus flowers, or how much crushed flower should I use to brew a therapeutic cup of tea?

  2. Kathryn M.

    I love drinking hibiscus tea. I have twice purchased one pound bags or organic hibiscus. However, I suspected that there is an interaction between my blood pressure meds and the tea. I found that reported in one research article that suggested that the tea and certain blood pressure meds should not be used concurrently. I had one of the dosages on my meds doubled and quit the hibiscus. I don’t know what to think now.

  3. gram

    I enjoy your program and information regarding alternative care:>

  4. Gin

    We lived in Mexico for 11 years and love Hibiscus tea, called Jamaica (pronounced hi mike a) it’s served cold over ice or you could certainly drink as a hot tea. The Harvester arts also love jamiaca and would occasionally strip our Hibiscus shrub bare!!

  5. Teri

    Where do you buy this tea?

  6. Marilyn C.

    Gee, that makes me wonder about the effect of hibiscus tea on low blood pressure. We’ve been making our own hibiscus tea for years. I don’t drink many glasses a day, but perhaps 3 a week at the most, and not every week. I have low blood pressure. I wonder if hibiscus tea is okay for me to drink in moderation.

  7. Anthony R.

    Besides having the medicinal properties mentioned, this is a most refreshing beverage, either hot or cold. Called Sorrrel in Jamaica, Rosella in other Caribbean islands and Flor de Jamaica in México, the dried petals are readily available all year round and the drink easily prepared. My favourite is cold with a touch of ginger and sweetened to taste, usually served during the Christmas season, when the plant flowers and the fresh petals can be collected.

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