For years, doctors thought that blood pressure just naturally got higher as people grew older. Under that formula, just about everyone on Medicare would be taking blood pressure pills. But that’s not always necessary. It turns out that some common foods, including hibiscus tea, offer a tasty way to keep blood pressure under control, so long as it’s not too high to start with.
Hibiscus Tea to Lower Blood Pressure:
Q. Since I started drinking hibiscus tea I have seen my blood pressure drop. It used to run around 132/80, but now it’s about 102/70. I’m delighted!
I found the following recipe to be a good replacement for an evening glass of wine. I take strong hibiscus tea and add apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, tart cherry extract and a little stevia or honey to taste. It makes a deep red sweet/tart/tangy elixir that’s delicious hot or cold, and every single ingredient has fabulous health benefits. It’s the best nightcap possible. The tart cherry extract contains melatonin, so it’s great for getting to sleep.
Studies of Hibiscus Tea:
A. Science supports your observation. One six-week study found that three cups of hibiscus tea daily lowered systolic blood pressure significantly, without unpleasant side effects (Journal of Nutrition, Feb., 2010). The volunteers in this study had mild hypertension or prehypertension.
Hibiscus tea is technically not really tea, but a decoction of the petals of the red flowers of Hibiscus sabdariffa. We agree that it is delicious, though we usually drink it without the extras. A number of tea companies, such as Celestial Seasonings and the Republic of Tea, sell hibiscus tea mixed with additional flavorful fruits or leaves, such as lemon or raspberry.
How Does Hibiscus Work?
Hibiscus compounds act very much like blood pressure medications called ACE inhibitors. Studies show the tea is nearly as effective as drugs like captopril and lisinopril (Fitoterapia, March, 2013). It also helps relax blood vessels by encouraging the lining to release nitric oxide, much as chocolate does (Frontiers in Pharmacology, online Jan. 19, 2016).
Are There Side Effects and Interactions?
Very few side effects or interactions have been reported with hibiscus tea. Animal research suggests that hibiscus tea might boost the blood-pressure lowering effects of hydrochlorothiazide, a common medication for hypertension (Journal of Medicinal Food, June, 2011).
A reader reported a side effect:
“I started drinking hibiscus tea before bed because I wanted to reduce the amount of medication I take for elevated blood pressure. I started coughing at night but had no symptoms of a cold or allergies. It took two nights for me to figure out that this could be the same ACE inhibitor cough so many people report with prescription pills.”
We don’t know if this troubles others who drink hibiscus tea. We discuss many other non-drug options for controlling hypertension, from magnesium to chocolate, kefir or grape juice, in our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment.