a red hibiscus flower, health benefits of hibiscus

Many traditional remedies may appear more like food than medicine. In many parts of the world, people attribute wonderful properties to a tart red tea made from hibiscus flowers. Are there really health benefits of hibiscus tea?

Health Benefits of Hibiscus:

Q. I am curious to know about the health benefits of hibiscus tea. I’ve heard it’s good for blood pressure. If so, how do you make it and how much do you drink?

A. Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is a bush with lovely bright red flowers. The dried petals can be used to make a pleasantly tart-tasting tea. To make it, steep 3/4 teaspoon (1/5 grams) of dried hibiscus petals in one cup boiling water for five to ten minutes.

This tea has been used in folk medicine to treat a variety of problems, and scientists have confirmed that it lowers blood pressure as well as cholesterol (Showande et al, Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, Dec. 2017; Nwachukwu et al, Indian Journal of Pharmacology, Sep-Oct. 2015). A meta-analysis showed that people who had higher blood pressure to start with were able to lower it more with hibiscus tea (Serban et al, Journal of Hypertension, June 2015).

Another reader shared this experience:

“I had high blood pressure and brought my blood pressure down from 170/90 to 140/80 with just hibiscus tea in about six weeks. For every flower I use 100 ml of hot water. I add lemon juice after steeping the flowers for approximately half an hour; then I strain the tea. I add honey or sugar to taste. I drink 150 ml three times a day.”

Earlier Research on Health Benefits of Hibiscus Tea:

Several years ago, a study at Tufts University found that several cups a day can help lower blood pressure in people with mild hypertension (McKay et al, Journal of Nutrition, Feb., 2010). The volunteers drank three cups (240 ml) of hibiscus tea or placebo tea daily.

The scientists concluded:

“These results suggest daily consumption of hibiscus tea, in an amount readily incorporated into the diet, lowers BP in pre- and mildly hypertensive adults and may prove an effective component of the dietary changes recommended for people with these conditions.”

How Hibiscus Lowers Blood Pressure:

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

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.

Gin offered this experience:

“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!”

Anthony also has an international perspective:

“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.”

Other Health Benefits of Hibiscus Tea:

Although scientists have done more research on the ability of hibiscus tea consumption to lower high blood pressure than on other benefits, they have reported other health effects.

Kidney Stone Prevention:

Iranian researchers report that hibiscus, as well as a number of other plants including stinging nettle, green tea, raspberry, parsley, pomegranate and black cumin (Nigella sativa) can inhibit the formation of crystals that lead to kidney stones (Nirumand et al, International Journal of Molecular Science, March 7, 2018).

Killing Bacteria on Salad:

Scientists in Mexico have found that spraying extracts of hibiscus on contaminated romaine lettuce and spinach leaves removed the bacteria more effectively than bleach, colloidal silver or vinegar (Gomez-Aldapa et al, Journal of Food Protection, Feb. 2018). In a separate study, they found that hibiscus extract was more effective than the other solutions at killing bacteria on jalapeno peppers (Rangel-Vargas et al, Journal of Food Protection, March 2017).

Reducing Urinary Tract Infections:

Clinicians observed that people with urinary catheters were less likely to develop infections of the urinary tract if they were drinking hibiscus tea. They then tested this in mice and found that the drink made with hibiscus reduced kidney inflammation related to the bacterial product, lipopolysaccharide (Chou et al, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Dec. 24, 2016).

We invite you to tell us about health benefits of hibiscus tea that you have experienced.


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  1. jannet
    jamaica W.I

    Ive just started taking hibiscus tea, and I have seen marked results. I’m waiting and hoping to take my blood work for cholesterol. It also helped my blood glucose.

  2. Emma

    The red tea is simply amazing. Plus, the easy-to-follow detox plan that goes with it is rooted in sound scientific principles. It’s fat cell shrinking effects are based on scientific research and the latest discoveries in how fat burning is related to stress, proper hormone levels, adequate sleep, nutrition and exercise physiology.

  3. Helen

    I have been bothered by UTIs for decades. I’m thankful for antibiotics that clear an infection, but, for many reasons, I’m not happy needing this Rx time and again. I have found in the past year that Hibiscus full spectrum extract has been a game changer for me. I take two 400 mg. capsules a day, one in the a.m. and one in the p.m. I haven’t had an infection now for 8 months! Wonderful!!!

  4. Cindy Black
    Seattle, WA

    You really don’t have to worry about a “recipe.” I brew up a big pot of hibiscus tea every few days. You can buy the dried hibiscus flowers at any good store that sells lots of bulk items (seeds, nuts, grains, etc.) For a big teapot, I use about 8-10 commercial hibiscus teabags (they’re usually hibiscus/cranberry), and also add a heaping tablespoon or so of the dried flowers to boiling water, then remove from heat and let sit for several hours. You’ll have a very dark red, strong tea. Then just put it in the fridge! You can’t make it too strong because you can just add water as desired.
    You can also add all kinds of stuff to change it up: cloves, orange zest, a couple bags of spicy black tea, a couple bags of orange or some other flavor tea, various herbs, etc. You can also add tart cherry or some other juice before drinking, and/or apple cider vinegar. Sweeten with stevia. Delicious hot or cold!

  5. Sara

    I do not know that I’ve had any health benefits from drinking Hibiscus Tea, as I used to drink it, but not much lately. I’m going to begin drinking it every day now. Sometimes it is difficult to find at local stores, even health food stores. I bought Hibiscus and Pineapple Tea locally, but had to throw it away, as it was awful. Finally found some in a store in Raleigh, and online, so I do have a pretty good supply. Hope it reduces my blood pressure! Thanks for reminding us about Hibiscus Tea! Love and appreciate your newsletters.

  6. Kathryn

    In Mexico, many believe that drinking Jamaica (Hibiscus tea) helps one’s kidneys and bladder. It seems to lessen the number of times a person needs to get up during the night to urinate!

  7. Sue

    I enjoyed hibiscus tea, but found that my heart would start beating fast and hard if I drank very much of it — like a whole glass. (I don’t have any heart problems, according to the doctor.) A little online research turned up this more intense heart beat as a possible side effect of the hibiscus tea. Not everyone is affected, but some may be.

  8. Robert

    Hibiscus tea has made a positive difference in BP control. However, I do have issues with an irritable bladder, and have noticed that Hibiscus tea tends to worsen that issue.

  9. Bob

    Having lived in Mexico seasonally for many years, many people, especially woman drank Jamaica (Hibiscus tea) to lose weight, as it acts like a mild diuretic. The flowers are sold everywhere throughout the country and the prepared drink is also everywhere. 80 million Mexicans can’t be wrong. Plus, it tastes good!

  10. Gin
    Albuquerque, N M 87120

    A bit more about the Hibiscus flower: loose leaves can be found in most Mexican markets in the produce section. I steep a cup or so of the leaves in water, strain into a jar for convenience. I make a sugar syrup & sweeten all I’ve steeped, refrigerate for future use.

  11. Lori

    We love this tea cold. When we put pineapple, apple, and orange slices in it it tastes like Sangria. Yummmmm

  12. Lida

    Would organic hibiscus teabags offer the same benefits as steeping the actual flowers?

    • Terry Graedon

      Yes, provided they contain a good amount of hibiscus.

  13. Carol

    Every time someone takes my blood pressure they all say the same thing “It’s a little high, probadly becsuse you are at the Doctor’s office”. After doing a little research I found that people on blood thinners (I am on Eliquis ) should not drink hibiscus tea. Your article makes no mention of this. Is the info I found correct or not?

    • Terry Graedon

      We haven’t found any information on hibiscus interacting with apixaban (Eliquis) or other anticoagulants.

  14. Mary

    I live in Mexico and regularly drink Jamaica (hibiscus) tea, usually refrigerated. I love it sweetened! It can be pretty strong w/o some sweetener. I would drink it even with no health benefits.

  15. Eileen

    Can you drink hibiscus tea if you are already taking Lisinopril?, Or is that too much ACE inhibitor?

    • Terry Graedon

      It MIGHT be too much ACE inhibition. If you decide to experiment, do so cautiously and monitor your blood pressure.

  16. Linda

    I had BP of 160/80 and was put on Lisinopril 10mg but after 2 months I just didn’t want to continue taking it. So I researched and found Hibiscus tea. After 2 weeks, my BP was down to 128/60, and I stopped the Lisinopril. I haven’t had to take it for several months now as my BP is now normal.

  17. Kim

    The photo used for this article is NOT the Hibiscus sabdariffa plant. The photo is of a more common hibiscus that is easily found at most box stores and garden centers. All hibiscus plants are not safe to use. This article is Hibiscus sabdariffa and only this variety should be used for the purposes explained in this article.

    • Terry Graedon

      Thanks for the comment. We’ve changed the photo accordingly.

  18. Margot

    I have noticed that the blueberry tea bags that I purchase have hibiscus as the main ingredient. Does dried hibiscus tea purchased in tea bags have the same medicinal impact?

  19. LYNN L. S.

    I have always heard that the useful part of the hibiscus is the calyx, not the petals.

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