The People's Perspective on Medicine

Hibiscus Tea for Better Blood Pressure

Drinking delicious hibiscus tea every day could help keep blood pressure under control without the side effects of medications.

Doctors spent a good part of the past year debating among themselves what is the ideal blood pressure that people should strive for. An important clinical trial called SPRINT (for Systolic blood PRessure INtervention Trial) revealed that people who were treated intensively to bring systolic blood pressure down to no more than 120 were 25 percent less likely to experience a heart attack or stroke. However, they were more likely to suffer side effects such as fainting, dizziness, low blood pressure, electrolyte imbalance and kidney problems (New England Journal of Medicine, Nov. 26, 2015).

Lowering systolic blood pressure aggressively in older individuals has been shown to increase the risk of cognitive decline, something no senior wants to contend with (JAMA Internal Medicine, April, 2015). But that is when the blood pressure is controlled with multiple medications. It is likely that keeping blood pressure at a reasonable level with dietary approaches is much less likely to have undesirable consequences.

Hibiscus Tea and Blood Pressure:

Q. I have started drinking hibiscus tea. The last time I went to the doctor, my blood pressure was 10 points lower. I hate taking pills, and was pleased when my doctor said, “Whatever you’re doing, keep it up!”

A. Tea made from the beautiful red flowers of Hibiscus sabdariffa is valued all around the world. In the Caribbean it is called sorrel and in Mexico it is agua de Jamaica.

How Hibiscus Tea Controls Blood Pressure:

A review of studies notes that daily consumption of hibiscus flower tea lowers blood pressure about as well as the medication captopril (Fitoterapia, March, 2013). A more recent study in Nigeria found that it worked as well as lisinopril (Indian Journal of Pharmacology, Sep-Oct., 2015). That may be because red compounds in this tea (anthocyanins) inhibit an enzyme (ACE) in a similar manner to many popular antihypertensive medicines (including captopril and lisinopril) (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Jan. 8, 2010).

Another study suggests, however, that the main way hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure is by relaxing the lining of the blood vessels (Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, June 2014). Such an effect on the endothelium (blood vessel lining) is also responsible for the ability of both beets and cocoa polyphenols to reduce blood pressure.

Here is what one reader reports:

“Besides having the medicinal properties mentioned, this is a most refreshing beverage, either hot or cold. Called Sorrel 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.”

Carol points out that hibiscus is readily available in two popular teas that can be found in nearly any supermarket:

“Anything to help improve our health without drugs is a great thing to know about! I have tried Red Zinger and Lemon Zinger and wondered why it made me feel better. Now I know.”

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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Question: Won’t drinking Hibiscus as a hot tea drink remove the effect of the vitamin C, since vitamin C, as I understand it, disappears if heated?

About a year ago I came across an article comparing the antioxidants and other health benefits of the various teas. It said, to my astonishment, that HIBISCUS TEA has about 4 times the health benefits of green tea! Well, right then and there I started drinking hibiscus tea.

I get the Bigelow hibiscus tea (it might have pomegranate and/or raspberry on the label too, but it’s mainly hibiscus, with a picture of the flower on the box). I buy a ton when it goes on sale — about $1.69 for 20 teabags at Bartell’s.

I ALSO buy the dried hibiscus flowers, which you can get at any store with a good bulk-foods section. When I make the tea, I use about 10-12 teabags and about 1/3 cup of flowers to ~1/2 gal. of water, let it all steep a few hours, then strain and refrigerate. It’ll be concentrated, so you can add more water to taste when making up a cup later. You can also add orange zest and various spices, whatever you want. Hibiscus tea has NO caffeine…

I drink the hibiscus tea plain without sugar… OR, you can add some stevia, some pomegranate or raspberry juice, maybe some tart cherry extract, and definitely a big splash of apple cider vinegar — to make a “cocktail” that’s absolutely delicious hot or cold. Trust me, it’s a very healthy non-alcoholic nightcap that tastes like alcohol!

BTW, I’m 68 and drink a fair amount of caffeine and eat lots of salt. However my BP is always around 107/60. It’s definitely improved since I started the Hibiscus tea, but I didn’t make the connection.

Does this tea have oxalate in it? I have issues with kidney stones and need to avoid oxalate foods, including most tea except green tea. Would love to reduce my BP, however.

I am highly allergic to caffeine. And I despite claims to the contrary I can without a doubt verify Hibiscus tea contains caffeine.

Jamaica (in Mexico) is a great agua.

Several months ago I had an A1c of 5.6. Fast forward about 6 mos and it was 4.8. The main change in my life was drinking more Jamaica. A delicious alternative to unpleasant other choices.

I have also read that it helps with blood pressure. Mine has been pretty normal all my life. I am 76.

Oh My YES! Hibiscus trees grow everywhere here and are easy to grow! I live in Port St Lucie and make tea from the flowers of my hibiscus tree but I also use dried tea from the store. The tree produces blossoms that last one day only then fold up and fall off. You can find hibiscus bushes and trees in all local nurseries and places like Lowes and Homedepot.
You will want to buy a red flowered variety. Plant one and you will see that it will grow quickly with little care. To make a cup of tea pull off an opened blossom. Remove the stamen and green part at the base. Rinse lightly and place in a mug. Pour one cup of boiling water over the blossom and steep for exactly 10 minutes. You may add a slice of fresh ginger if you like. The blossom will lose it’s color and turn light brown and the water will be rose colored. Add the juice of a wedge of lime or lemon and a teaspoon or two of honey. Enjoy!
You can also serve it over ice or make a pitcher of iced tea by soaking 5 or 6 blossoms in 5 or 6 cups of boiling water with or without ginger. Steep 10 minutes, remove blossoms and chill. Add juice of lemon or lime and honey to taste. The blossoms can be dried by laying petals out on paper towels in a sunny indoor spot until dry. Crumble and store in a container and make tea with them, straining out the dried petals after 10 minutes! Good luck! The tree is beautiful too!

Is hibiscus a blood thinner?
My brother is taking lovenox and I’d like to offer him hibiscus tea. But blood thinning herbs, like garlic are contraindicated… Thanks.

Be careful of the juice. It can stain clothes if it drips on them.

It is really sorrell that is used as Hibiscus tea. You can find it as the main ingredient in Celestial Seasonings, Herbal Tea, Caffeine Free, Raspberry Zinger, 20 Tea Bags

Hibiscus tea with wild raspberry, Stash brand I found at Publix for about $3 for 20 bags–a bit expensive. I used one bag for about 64 oz. water to make sun tea, which was a bit weak. But even so, taking about one cup in the am and one in the afternoon I saw an immediate difference in my BP. In fact the one day I didn’t drink it, my measurement went back up. It makes a refreshing afternoon pickup without caffeine or sugar, so I’m really pleased with it.

I would like to hear more about this tea.

MAYBE THIS WILL HELP WITH SOME OF THE QUESTIONS: I have been using Hibiscus tea for several years. I had read that it was good for one’s skin and I had problems. (It did not cure it, but other supplements did). I buy it on the Internet, as local stores are too expensive (if you can even find it) and the Hibiscus-Pineapple Leech one store has, to me is awful. Wasted ten bucks (for very few bags.)
I use about eight to ten teabags for about a half gallon of tea for iced tea, and I also use Splenda (or whatever sweetener you desire). The Hibiscus Tea I first ordered has been discontinued, or at least I could not find it at the site I had bought it, but found some at another site and it only took a very short time to get used to it. I bought “bulk” and bags. The bags are less messy and easier to use. Of course, if making hot tea, I just use one tea bag.
So, if you want to try it and buy online, just search HIBISCUS TEA and take your pick.

It does have caffeine, but not as much as coffee. I would say if you have heart/blood pressure problems, you should eliminate ALL caffeine. That has worked best for me, but was very hard to do. I had to go down gradually. I first switched from coffee to the hibiscus tea. That made such a difference; I then realized it was the caffeine that was causing me the problems, so I eventually gave up the tea as well. Please Lord don’t make me give up chocolate too! Thank heavens that is a step I have not had to take :)!
People’s Pharmacy response: Hibiscus tea has no caffeine, unless it has been mixed with black tea.

Would hibiscus tea interact with ACE inhibitor if you were taking that?
People’s Pharmacy response: Unfortunately, we don’t know. No studies have been done.

Can we make our own hibiscus tea using the flowers we have blooming in Florida and elsewhere in the tropics?
People’s Pharmacy response: You are lucky to have hibiscus flowers. Make sure it is the Hibiscus sabdariffa species. (Ask a master gardener.)
Dry the flowers, and then use a heaping teaspoon for a cup of tea.

I found that it was actually the elimination of caffeine that really lowered my blood pressure. I gave up coffee (hard to do) and then eliminated the tea (which I switched to after I eliminated the coffee).

The hibiscus used for the tea is not the flowering variety founders at Lowes and home depot. The tea is not made from petals. If you use the flowers there is no telling what effect you can expect. This misconception is propagated by photos of the flowers on some packaging as well.

I’m extremely allergic to ACE inhibitors. Would that preclude drinking tea made from Hibiscus sabdariffa? Thanks!

Three persons in my family tried taking the hibiscus tea put it causes gas to accumulate for all of us. Is there anything that we can add to the tea so that we won’t have this problem?

Two questions…
Can someone on Xarelto (blood thinner) drink this tea without problems?
Does it have caffeine? I have AFib and must stay away from caffeine as it could agitate my heart rhythm.

sure would like more info on tea made from Hibiscus blooms. How to make the tea, etc.

I heard this mentioned on a popular medical TV show. Haven’t found Hibiscus tea except when it is in with a bunch of other ingredients. Any sources for plain Hibiscus ? Thanks

Does anyone know where this hibiscus plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa) can be obtained and if it will grow near Port St. Lucie, FL (50 miles up the coast from West Palm Beach).

This kind of posting is really helpful only if specific quantities are given, as in How many cups a day, etc. Also, are there different “potencies” from which I would need to choose at the store? Should I be choosing Hibiscus all by itself, or in combination with other teas?

As much as I appreciate this info, I wish it would be more specific: how much tea? How strong? Is this tea readily available?
I am struggling with hypertension that is highest when my physician takes it– his nurses don’t get anywhere the readings he does. Higher doses of Losartin have left me so tired that I can’t move, which is also not good! I’m looking for safe alternatives to more pills, and would appreciate detail. Thanks!

What Kathleen is describing when her doctor takes her blood pressure is white coat syndrome. People who have this problem should not be put on higher doses of medication because of it. A good idea is to buy a blood pressure cuff and take your blood pressure at home, ideally taking it both in the morning and evening. You can keep a log and show it to your doctor at your next appointment. The log will show your true blood pressure level.

please send me any follow up

I live in an area with lots of Mexican restaurants and while some offer alcoholic beverages with the food, my favorite offers Agua Frescas… depending on the season, they will have a selection of them.
With watermelons in season, ‘Sandia’ is one of the popular ones (made with fresh watermelon, water and a little sugar. Tamarind is another (a nice tangy flavor) and Jamaica which is quite popular and really good with the spicy food.
I think they might offer commercial sodas (made in Mexico with real sugar, not corn sweeteners) but since they are bottled and more expensive, most people get the aguas frescas which is of course healthier.
Local markets which serve the hispanic community now carry the dried flowers/pods (tamarind) and such so it’s easy to enjoy them at home as well.
Really enjoyed reading about the benefits of jamaica, I’ll have to investigate the benefits of tamarind since I like it not just as a drink but in foods (which I picked up from Indian recipes.

I live in Mexico and find it pretty easy to get agua fresca that is Jamaica. Love that stuff.

As to how much, that is an answer you need to find for yourself. Our bodies and its requirements are all different. Also our taste buds are different.
So play around with the tea bags or loose and decide how you like it.

Does it thin the blood and cause bleeding in heart patients on blood thinning meds?

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