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Hibiscus

Uses

Botanical names:
Hibiscus rosa, Hibiscus sabdariffa

Parts Used & Where Grown

Members of the Malvaceae family, various species of hibiscus are shrubs found practically around the globe. The flower of hibiscus is the part used as medicine. The most widely known and best-studied species tend to be annuals from the tropics, such as the two that are focused on here. There are, however, hardy perennial species that survive in colder climates. Another hibiscus not discussed here is Hibiscus esculenta, or okra.

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
2 Stars
Hypertension
2 tsp (5 to 6 grams) dried flowers brewed as tea, taken two to three times per day
Two clinical trials have shown that hibiscus can lower blood pressure. The trials have suggested that Hibiscus sabdariffa tea may be as potent as some blood pressure medications.

Controlled clinical trials have shown that hibiscus can lower blood pressure.2 In one, people with high blood pressure who went off their medications were given either 2 teaspoons (5 to 6 grams) Hibiscus sabdariffa infused in 1 cup (250 ml) water or black tea three times per day.3 After 12 days the hibiscus group had significantly lower blood pressure than the black tea group. In another trial 10 grams of Hibiscus sabdariffa tea was compared to the drug captopril for four weeks in people with high blood pressure.4 Blood pressures fell an equal amount in both groups, suggesting this herbal tea may be as potent as some blood pressure medications.

1 Star
Fever
Refer to label instructions
Hibiscus flowers contain substantial quantities of flavonoids and proanthocyanidins, which are associated with fever-reducing (antipyretic) activities.

The flowers contain substantial quantities of flavonoids and proanthocyanidins,5 which are associated with antioxidant, fever-reducing (antipyretic), pain-relieving (analgesic), and spasm-inhibiting (spasmolytic) activities.6 , 7 Of the many polysaccharides, the acidic polysaccharides show the most interesting properties. 

1 Star
Type 1 Diabetes
Refer to label instructions
Hibiscus is a traditional remedy in India for diabetes, and is supported by preliminary research.
Hibiscus is a traditional remedy in India for diabetes; this treatment is supported by preliminary studies from that country and by animal studies.8 , 9 Hibiscus is usually taken as tea, 1 to 2 teaspoons (3 to 6 grams) of dried flower infused in to 1 cup (250 ml) of water three times per day.
1 Star
Type 2 Diabetes
Refer to label instructions
Hibiscus is a traditional remedy in India for diabetes, and is supported by preliminary research.
Hibiscus is a traditional remedy in India for diabetes; this treatment is supported by preliminary studies from that country and by animal studies.10 , 11 Hibiscus is usually taken as tea, such as 1 to 2 teaspoons (3 to 6 grams) of dried flower infused in to 1 cup (250 ml) three times per day.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

Teas made from hibiscus flowers and, occasionally, leaves are a very common beverage in tropical regions where they grow. The cool, astringent, acidic flavor is widely recognized and has made it a staple of “zinger” type teas in the United States. All parts of hibiscus plants are used traditionally. Due to their soothing (demulcent) and astringent properties, the flowers and leaves have been traditionally used to treat conditions such as cancer and gallbladder attacks, to lower blood pressure, to relieve dry coughs, and topically to treat skin afflictions.1 The root has been used as a tonic. The stems yield fibers that can be used to make rope or burlap.

How It Works

Botanical names:
Hibiscus rosa, Hibiscus sabdariffa

How It Works

The flowers contain substantial quantities of flavonoids and proanthocyanidins,12 which are associated with antioxidant, fever-reducing (antipyretic), pain-relieving (analgesic), and spasm-inhibiting (spasmolytic) activities.13 , 14 Of the many polysaccharides, the acidic polysaccharides show the most interesting properties. For example, they stimulate specialized skin cells which would presumably promote wound healing and these polysaccharides are also immune-modulating.15 , 16 There is also a high concentration (15 to 30%) of simple organic acids such as citric and malic acids.17

Complex extracts of hibiscus have shown other properties in the test tube and in animal studies, such as reducing skin cancer promoted by ultraviolet light, inhibiting herpes simplex virus, and lowering cholesterol levels.18 , 19 , 20 A variety of studies have looked at the potential use of hibiscus for male and female fertility regulation with mixed results.21 , 22 , 23

How to Use It

Hibiscus is usually taken as tea. Clinical trials have used 1 to 2 tsp (3 to 6 grams) of dried flower infused in to 1 cup (250 ml) three times per day.24 One study used 500 ml of tea once a day before breakfast.25

Interactions

Botanical names:
Hibiscus rosa, Hibiscus sabdariffa

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.

Interactions with Medicines

Certain medicines interact with this supplement.

Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check

Replenish Depleted Nutrients

  • none

Reduce Side Effects

  • none

Support Medicine

  • none

Reduces Effectiveness

  • Acetaminophen

    One small study found that hibiscus could decrease levels of acetaminophen if the drug was taken after the tea was consumed though it was not entirely clear if the decreases were clinically significant.26

  • Acetaminophen with Codeine

    One small study found that hibiscus could decrease levels of acetaminophen if the drug was taken after the tea was consumed though it was not entirely clear if the decreases were clinically significant.27

  • Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen

    One small study found that hibiscus could decrease levels of acetaminophen if the drug was taken after the tea was consumed though it was not entirely clear if the decreases were clinically significant.28

Potential Negative Interaction

  • none

Explanation Required

  • Hydrochlorothiazide
    In experimental animals, co-administration of hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) extract and hydrochlorothiazide increased blood levels of hydrochlorothiazide and decreased the rate at which the body cleared the drug.29 Therefore, treatment with hibiscus could increase both the efficacy and the adverse effects of hydrochlorothiazide. People taking hydrochlorothiazide should not take hibiscus without medical supervision.
    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Botanical names:
Hibiscus rosa, Hibiscus sabdariffa

Side Effects

At the time of writing, there were no well-known side effects caused by this supplement.

References

1. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985:228–9.

2. McKay DL, Chen CY, Saltzman E, Blumberg JB. Hibiscus sabdariffa L. tea (tisane) lowers blood pressure in prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults. J Nutr 2010;140:298–303.

3. Haji Faraji M, Haji Tarkhani AH. The effect of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on essential hypertension. J Ethnopharmacol 1999;65:231–6.

4. Herrera-Arellano A, Flores-Romero S, Chavez-Soto MA, Tortoriello J. Effectiveness and tolerability of a standardized extract from Hibiscus sabdariffa in patients with mild to moderate hypertension: a controlled and randomized clinical trial. Phytomedicine 2004;11(5):375–82.

5. Bruneton J. Pharmacognosy Phytochemistry Medicinal Plants,2nd ed. London: Intercept, 1999:24.

6. Dafallah AA, al-Mustafa Z. Investigation of the anti-inflammatory activity of Acacia nilotica and Hibiscus sabdariffa. Am J Chin Med 1996;24:263–9.

7. Salah AM, Gathumbi J, Vierling W. Inhibition of intestinal motility by methanol extracts of Hibiscus sabdariffa L. (Malvaceae) in rats. Phytother Res 2002;16:283–5.

8. Alam MM, Siddiqui MB, Hussain W. Treatment of diabetes through herbal drugs in rural India. Fitoterapia1990;61:240–2.

9. Sachdewa A, Khemani LD. Effect of Hibiscus rosa sinensis Linn ethanol flower extract on blood glucose and lipid profile in streptozotocin induced diabetes in rats. J Ethnopharmacol2003;89:61–6.

10. Alam MM, Siddiqui MB, Hussain W. Treatment of diabetes through herbal drugs in rural India. Fitoterapia 1990;61:240–2.

11. Sachdewa A, Khemani LD. Effect of Hibiscus rosa sinensis Linn ethanol flower extract on blood glucose and lipid profile in streptozotocin induced diabetes in rats. J Ethnopharmacol 2003;89:61–6.

12. Bruneton J. Pharmacognosy Phytochemistry Medicinal Plants,2nd ed. London: Intercept, 1999:24.

13. Dafallah AA, al-Mustafa Z. Investigation of the anti-inflammatory activity of Acacia nilotica and Hibiscus sabdariffa. Am J Chin Med 1996;24:263–9.

14. Salah AM, Gathumbi J, Vierling W. Inhibition of intestinal motility by methanol extracts of Hibiscus sabdariffa L. (Malvaceae) in rats. Phytother Res 2002;16:283–5.

15. Brunold C, Deters A, Knoepfel-Sidler F, et al. Polysaccharides from Hibiscus sabdariffa flowers stimulate proliferation and differentiation of human keratinocytes. Planta Med 2004;70:370–3.

16. Muller BM, Franz G. Chemical structure and biological activity of polysaccharides from Hibiscus sabdariffa. Planta Med 1992;58:60–7.

17. Bruneton J. Pharmacognosy Phytochemistry Medicinal Plants,2nd ed. London: Lavoisier, 1999:24.

18. Sharma S, Sultana S. Effect of Hibiscus rosa sinensis extract on hyperproliferation and oxidative damage caused by benzoyl peroxide and ultraviolet radiations in mouse skin. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol 2004;95:220–5.

19. Zheng MS. An experimental study of the anti-HSV-II action of 500 herbal drugs. J Tradit Chin Med1989;9:113–6.

20. El-Saadany SS, Sitohy MZ, Labib SM, el-Massry RA. Biochemical dynamics and hypocholesterolemic action of Hibiscus sabdariffa (Karkade). Nahrung1991;35:567-76.

21. Pal AK, Bhattacharya K, Kabir SN, Pakrashi A. Flowers of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, a potential source of contragestative agent: II. Possible mode of action with reference to anti-implantation effect of the benzene extract. Contraception1985;32:517–29.

22. Tan CH. Is Hibiscus rosa sinensis Linn. a potential source of antifertility agents for males? Int J Fertil1983;28:247–8.

23. Kholkute SD, Mudgal V, Udupa KN. Studies on the antifertility potentiality of Hibiscus rosa sinensis. Parts of medicinal value; selection of species and seasonal variations. Planta Med 1977;31:35–9.

24. Herrera-Arellano A, Flores-Romero S, Chavez-Soto MA, Tortoriello J. Effectiveness and tolerability of a standardized extract from Hibiscus sabdariffa in patients with mild to moderate hypertension: a controlled and randomized clinical trial. Phytomedicine2004;11:375–82.

25. Herrera-Arellano A, Flores-Romero S, Chavez-Soto MA, Tortoriello J. Effectiveness and tolerability of a standardized extract from Hibiscus sabdariffa in patients with mild to moderate hypertension: a controlled and randomized clinical trial. Phytomedicine2004;11:375–82.

26. Kolawole JA, Maduenyi A. Effect of zobo drink (Hibiscus sabdariffa water extract) on the pharmacokinetics of acetaminophen in human volunteers. Eur J Drug Metab Pharmacokinet 2004;29:25–9.

27. Kolawole JA, Maduenyi A. Effect of zobo drink (Hibiscus sabdariffa water extract) on the pharmacokinetics of acetaminophen in human volunteers. Eur J Drug Metab Pharmacokinet 2004;29:25–9.

28. Kolawole JA, Maduenyi A. Effect of zobo drink (Hibiscus sabdariffa water extract) on the pharmacokinetics of acetaminophen in human volunteers. Eur J Drug Metab Pharmacokinet 2004;29:25–9.

29. Ndu OO, Nworu CS, Ehiemere CO, et al. Herb-drug interaction between the extract of Hibiscus sabdariffa L. and hydrochlorothiazide in experimental animals. J Med Food 2011;14:640–4.

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