a cup of hot hibiscus tea, sipping hibiscus tea

Many people would love to find a simple, natural approach to getting their blood pressure under control. There is an appeal to avoiding medications with multiple side effects. While you may have to work trying out various foods, diets and exercises that can help to find the ones that work best for you, you’ll probably want to avoid an option that can make you cough, even if it lowers your blood pressure fairly well.

Does Hibiscus Tea Make You Cough?

Q. I started drinking hibiscus tea and shortly developed the same irritating cough as when I was taking lisinopril. When I stopped drinking the tea, the cough was gone.

How Does Hibiscus Tea Work?

A. Hibiscus tea blocks the same enzyme (angiotensin-converting enzyme, or ACE) as blood pressure pills like lisinopril (Indian Journal of Pharmacology, Sept-Oct, 2015). Some people are very sensitive to this enzyme and they develop uncontrollable coughing while taking such a drug. If you are among them, drinking the tea a few times a day might also make you cough.

For others, however, drinking hibiscus tea is a natural way to help lower blood pressure. We heard from this reader:

“I found hibiscus tea with wild raspberry at the supermarket. This makes a refreshing afternoon pick-me-up without caffeine or sugar.

“Drinking a cup in the morning and another in the afternoon made an immediate difference in my blood pressure. In fact, the one day I didn’t drink the tea, my blood pressure measurement went back up.”

A randomized controlled trial in 65 adults with mild hypertension found that drinking three cups of hibiscus tea daily for six weeks lowered blood pressure more than drinking a red placebo beverage (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Feb., 2010). A review of research has also shown that Hibiscus sabdariffa, the lovely red flower from which hibiscus tea is made, helps to lower blood fats as well as blood pressure in both humans and animals (Fitoterapia, March, 2013).

Hibiscus tea is available online or in most supermarkets. One of the most readily available brands is Celestial Seasonings Zinger line (Red Zinger, Raspberry Zinger, Lemon Zinger, etc.)

What Can You Do About Your Blood Pressure If Hibiscus Tea Makes You Cough?

Luckily, hibiscus tea is not the only option for natural blood pressure control. Drinking beet juice every day has also been shown to reduce moderately elevated blood pressure (Current Cardiology Reports, Dec., 2016). Consuming cocoa flavanols can also benefit blood pressure (Annals of Medicine, 2015). And the research is irrefutable on the blood-pressure-lowering power of the DASH diet (Advances in Nutrition, Jan. 15, 2016). The diet lowers the risk of stroke (Stroke, April, 2016). Unfortunately, however, many people find it challenging to follow a DASH diet, even when the doctor tells them they have hypertension (Preventive Medicine Reports, Sep. 28, 2016).

We discuss details on the DASH diet and many other nondrug approaches to hypertension in our book, Quick & Handy Home Remedies. You can also find information on medications as well as natural treatments for hypertension in our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment.

Get The Graedons' Favorite Home Remedies Health Guide for FREE

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

  1. Bruce

    There really is something to this cough side effect. It had happened to me for 2 weeks before I quit the tea. It’s bizarre that a natural ingredient could cause this, and scary that many people wouldn’t even click to the reason they’re coughing. No other cold or flu symptoms, just a cough that wont go away.

  2. TERRY

    Does any of the zinger collection of celestial seasons contain hibiscus tea? Thanks

  3. TERRY

    is hibiscus tea safe for everyone?

  4. Jim

    My wife developed a bad cough after her Dr. prescribed lisinopril. She has now been off of the drug for over a month but the cough persists. Any ideas for remedies to stop the cough?

  5. Cindy M. Black
    Seattle, WA

    As I’ve written before, I love hibiscus tea and drink it every night. I make it strong, then add some apple cider vinegar, some tart cherry juice, sometimes a little pomegranite juice, and then sweeten it with Stevia; it’s delicious hot or cold. (Just don’t drop the darn stuff on a beige carpet, like I did!!) And yes, it has apparently lowered my BP by about 13 points (top and bottom). The tea doesn’t give me any cough. So that must be a fairly rare side effect.

  6. Gina
    Myrtle Beach

    Unbelievable how one can have an issue going on and then….wow, an article about it appears in my Peoples Pharmacy newsletter!
    I have been coughing for several years almost non-stop. It has been getting worse. Thought it was allergies, then the doctor thought it was reflux…then, I just got tired of going to doctors and lived with it. Chewed a *lot* of gum! However, now that I am working out of my home and drinking hibiscus tea just about non-stop throughout the day the cough would just not stop.
    About 7 days ago I stopped it completely for another reason. It had to do with my heart starting to beat faster and louder and I decided to just go off everything. Well….the cough is just about completely gone. I did not even know there could be a correlation between the red tea that I love and the cough that has about killed me.
    Thank you ever so much P.P. for writing this newsletter with such incredibly helpful information. I just love you both! AS a fellow Durham/Chapel Hill resident I am so proud of the national status you have achieved over the years. I have one of your older books from about 10 years ago and believe it is time to get a new one.
    What a great start to a New Year– a quieter and softer year!

  7. Laura Marie McKee

    Just be aware that beet juice has a lot of sugar and oxalates as well.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.

Your cart

Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.