The People's Perspective on Medicine

Hibiscus Tea Provides Amazing Blood Pressure Control

Could Hibiscus tea fight high BP? One study found that three cups of hibiscus tea daily lowered systolic BP significantly, without unpleasant side effects.

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.

Revised 7/21/16

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Could you please send me a Hibiscus tea recipe for hypertension; dosage and water and amounts and time of day. Of possible interest, I’ve had 2 AORTIC valve replacements and a stroke and my blood pressure cannot be controlled by pharmaceuticals. The only type that worked, only temporarily, were Beta-Blockers, but they caused side effects that were almost deadly to me. I take a general herbal preparation; but I would like to try the right recipes and times and amounts of Hawthorne and Hibiscus berries. Thank you very much

I love hybuscus tea. I learned I have high blood pressure during a routine phyical for my company. What a surprise! My co-workers stop drinking coffee when they learn they have their phyical coming up, as caffine does elivate blood pressure. My doctor prescribed 20/25 blood pressure med. I use hybuscus flower tea made with the dried flowers to keep my pressure down from 145/ 80 to 116/ 75. I’ve also included more walking which I’m sure helps. I use the doctors meds when I can’t drink the tea. ( when away from easy bathroom access).
M.A.

The best tea to lower your high blood pressure is “olive leaf”tea. It will bring your blood pressure down at least 35 points. You can also take 1500 mg. of olive leaf extract two times a day on an empty stomach. Eat a low-fat and and no sodium diet. The best is a low-fat vegan diet. Also take 1000 mg. of “magnesium glycinate,” 500mg two time a day. Also donate blood every two months, and your heart will pump easier.

Rat research, pretty technical, but shows olive leaf extract can lower blood pressure: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26593388

The 1000 mg of magnesium is too much for a lot of people. Magnesium supplements can help, but that much might cause diarrhea. People with poor kidney function shouldn’t take magnesium supplements.

I found that hibiscus tea increased my symptoms of atrial fib quite severely. I began an elimination diet to figure out why my heart rate was increasing each day at around 5 p.m. Then it occurred to me that I had my daily cup of hibiscus tea at around 4 o’clock each day. Since quitting the tea, I feel much better. I’m sad, though – I really loved that tea.

Awwwww. So sad. I LOVE it but have noticed no such thing. Maybe, I am not monitoring enough or I am immune.
Thanks for sharing a potential side effect, though, and kudos to the brilliant Sherlock in you!
Love,
Ra.

I too have seen a major drop in my BP with hibiscus drinks. I buy my hibiscus in bulk at Mexican markets where it goes by the Spanish name Jamaica. (The story being that when Spanish explorers came upon a beautiful hibiscus flowered island, they named it Jamaica.) We Mexicans drink sugared hibiscus all the time. Bulk prices are $2-3 per pound.

According to Dr Greger of Nutritionfacts.org, you should limit your consumption of hibiscus tea to 4 cups per day due to its high manganese content. I believe the limit for children is 2 cups per day. I use it almost every day combined with a rooibos/cranberry/orange tea ordered from Positively Tea. Their tea is organic and of good quality.

I have hibiscus flowers in my yard. Can I just pick and brew them as is? Do I pick when they are in their prime? Do I need to dry before brewing? How many per cup? Are there different varieties? These are growing in South Carolina.

I, too, experienced the pesky cough another reader mentioned . Nothing would alleviate it until I realized that it was this tea. As soon as I stopped drinking it, the cough went away.

Stash brand of raspberry hibiscus tea is quite good. You can order a hundred bags on Amazon for a reasonable price.

Was attempting to use for HBP but gave me horrible, horrible diarrhea and it lasted for a few days. Be very careful with this.

At my last physical my BP was 158/90, the highest reading I’ve ever had (chalked up to white coat syndrome). It had been running 135/82 or so, which still concerned me. I bought a high end BP monitor that keeps records for you on your smartphone. I started drinking hibiscus tea, 20 ounces iced per day, minimum (I sub this for about a third of the water I drink per day). I tried several brands and found that since I don’t care for sweetener, Alvita brand from a health food store was the one I liked best. However, it is very expensive in bagged form.

I now order a pound of organic loose petals from TheTeaSpot.com (saw on Amazon, too) and use 3 tablespoons of petals in 9 cups of water (the capacity of my electric water kettle). Put the petals in a cold brew sock (found on Amazon and really designed for coffee), pour water over and let steep until it cools to room temp. I like the tart taste and super strong tea, but you could add sweetener of your choice and dilute as you like. I find this to be a mild diuretic so I won’t drink it after 2 p.m. or so, but that may just be me. In the cooler months, I drink it hot. After 6 months, my readings average out to 109/71. I don’t cook with added sodium, but have also become more conscious of, and really avoid added sodium, which I’m sure has helped as well (read the DASH Diet – enlightening info that can be found free on-line). For reference, I’m a 54 year old menopausal woman who exercises regularly and could stand to drop 20 lbs.

I’m not sure I can find a good reliable source for hibiscus tea here. And I have never seen tart cherry juice or extract or even the tart cherries for sale!

I make some extra strong hibiscus tea and make it into ice cubes. Once frozen, I pop them out of the tray and store them in a plastic container in the freezer. It’s a great way to have iced hibiscus tea without being diluted with regular ice melting. I do the same with cherry juice. I use these special cubes to flavor a glass of plain water or to add flavor and nutrients to my smoothie. Cherry juice cubes in hibiscus tea is great together.

Ice cube trays have become my new favorite kitchen gadget. I freeze stock (veggie, chicken, beef) to add a cube or two to my rice cooker when fixing rice (or add to gravy or make an individual cup of soup – add a bit of diced chicken and chopped celery…). I purée and freeze greens (spinach, kale, cabbage) and add the cubes to smoothies. It’s a great way to avoid tossing unused produce – I freeze it before it goes bad.

I buy it by the pound from mountainroseherbs.com for ~12 $ a pound! It is excellent quality and makes a very good tea.

Are there any ill effects of drinking hibiscus tea while taking amyloid pine?

The Republic of Tea makes Hibiscus Tea in several flavors, including Pineapple Lychee. I enjoy it and their Blueberry flavor Hibiscus Tea with a squirt of honey and that’s all. The tea is not bitter. I am the daughter of two Brits and have grown up drinking all tea with milk, but I truly enjoy these teas without it.

What is the effect of the hibiscus tea on lisinopril and amlodipine? Could I continue to take the medications with hibiscus tea?

I read the article over Thanksgiving and was more interested in the melatonin effect than the blood pressure benefits since I don’t suffer from hypertension, but do suffer from insomnia. I brewed up my own concoction using the ingredients you listed but substituted pomegranate-dark cherry juice for the cherry extract, which I have not been unable to find. I found that if I drink this in the evening, hot or cold, it is very satisfying and I think it is helping me sleep (I’m tracking this).
Here’s my recipe, which I make in my iced tea maker:
6 hibiscus tea bags (Republic of Tea)
1 and 1/2 quarts of water
Brew tea
Mix together:
1 cup Pomegranate-Dark Cherry juice (Smart Juice)
1/3 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
4 packets of Stevia
When the tea is finished brewing, I mix the juice mixture in with the tea and refrigerate for future use. To me, it tastes equally good hot or cold and I like the idea of pretending I’m having a nice glass of red wine!

I am interested in the hibiscus tea recipe – what are the amounts of ingredients to use?

To DK: No, hibiscus tea has NO caffeine; you can drink it to your heart’s content. To T.D.: I really think the actual TEA is much better than the pill form; this is true for tea and everything else, too. The actual food (or tea) has synergistic antioxidants and other chemicals the pills just don’t have. At least that’s the opinion of most researchers and nutritionists.
To SHB: I’m pretty sure the person who wrote about the “evening replacement to a glass of wine” was ME! At least I wrote a comment containing the exact same words a few months ago. I am still drinking this “elixir” and it’s fabulous. You can drink it anytime you want, as there’s nothing but good stuff in there.. But it really does make a healthy and satisfying nightcap.
Every few days I brew up a big pot of hibiscus tea. I make the tea double-strong, store it in the fridge, and when I want some I add 1 part water to 1 part tea. This way you can store more tea in a smaller space. For a big teapot, I’ll usually use 12-14 teabags. Besides teabags, you can find dried hibiscus flowers in most specialty healthfood stores in the bulk section. I’ll throw in a small handful of those, too, if I have them. Many teas come as “hibiscus/cranberry,” or “hibiscus/raspberry,” etc. Those are fine, and you can also throw in any kind of dark-berry juice that you happen to have. Also tart-cherry extract! (~2 T to ~12 ounces of tea). You can make it any way you like, really, as long as it has a good amount of hibiscus in it. The hibiscus is so great because it has SO many antioxidants — many more than green tea, I’m told. The apple cider vinegar and stevia (&/or honey) is what gives it that sweet and tangy taste that satisfies like an alcoholic drink but it has no alcohol! So it’s all good. I’m drinking one now! Cheers, everyone.

I too would like the pineapple version of Hibiscus Tea along with the recipe for the Hibiscus Tea. Thanks,

I have ordered a hibiscus supplement in pill form. Hope it has
the same effect.

I keep my BP in check by walking two miles a day… 4 MPH or two 15 minute miles..

So does my husband (3 mi./day), but he still has to take BP meds. He’s as thin as he was when he graduated high school. His high BP runs in his family, but he’s still better off & doesn’t have to take as high a dose of BP meds since he exercises and keeps his weight down.

This leads me to the question that Sode asked about drinking Hibiscus tea along with BP meds. Would the meds need to be adjusted when using the tea? This is an important question to have answered before staring the tea.

Also, Barb’s comment about the tea causing diarrhea; wonder if it’s connected to how much you drink, or if some people are sensitive to it in any amount.

I hesitate to recommend this to my husband until these questions are answered.

I wish Terry would address people’s questions.

What is the pineapple version of Hibiscus Tea?
I have never been able to acquire a taste for tea and would love to find a nice tasting alternative for my blood pressure.

Hibiscus tea has a stronger, more tangy, taste than most teas, especially if you use the flowers themselves.
I am not that much of a tea drinker myself and LOVE this one.

After ordering some organic hibiscus tea on line, I found out that the Celestial Seasons “Zinger” teas’ primary ingredient is hibiscus. That will definitely be my future choices. Also, if traveling in Europe or have visitors coming, ask them to bring some Hagebutte Tee, which is rose hips and hibiscus as a hostess gift. I save it for fighting colds, because of the additional Vit. C. However it also has the hibiscus in it.

I’d like to know the answers to the questions that have been posed by the other commenters here.

Please have the person who wrote about the hibiscus tea provide her recipe of amounts of tea plus amounts of additives. Does she make this as individual servings or several servings at the time. Also, does she only drink one serving per day, that being in the evening?

Sounds great with your results. How long have you been drinking this tea and what brand of tea are you buying?
thanks

does hibiscus tea have caffeine?

I have tried the Hibiscus tea but it causes “gas’ to lodge in my back. This makes it very difficult for me to get out of bed because it hurts so badly.
Presently, I’m taking eggplant water. Not sure of the results yet.

I have used Hibiscus Tea once in the morning. Since, I can’t drink 3 times as I have BPH (over active bladder). However, I do use sugar beet daily twice, which control my BP.
Draw back of Hibiscus tea 1. It is expensive 2. It is not available every where. 3. The quality can be questionable/variable.

Buy the flowers and make your own tea to taste.

My doctor wanted to put me on blood pressure medicine, but gave me the chance to look at my diet. I found that my morning coffee was raising my blood pressure to a high level. I even asked the nurse at the office if coffee affected my blood pressure. She said NO we have many people who drink coffee and it doesn’t make any difference. After I eliminated my morning coffee, my blood pressure readings became significantly lower.
Since I don’t like decaf coffee that was not an option for me. I really enjoyed my morning coffee with the little pick-me-up! (I never have drank pop or other caffeinated beverages.) I also did switch over to the pineapple version of hibiscus tea and had another pleasant side affect. It clears up my sinus problems that I have had for 20 years!

This sounds very interesting. I’ll look for some Hibiscus tea and give this a whirl.

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