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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?

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

Used for Why
3 Stars
Hypertension
750 mg of hibiscus extract per day; or 1 tsp (1 to 2 grams) dried flowers brewed as tea, taken two to three times per day
Clinical trials have shown that Hibiscus sabdariffa, as tea or tablet, can lower high blood pressure and some trials suggest hibiscus tea may be as potent as certain blood pressure medications.

The hibiscus family of flowering plants consists of a number of related species, the most studied of which is Hibiscus sabdariffa. Hibiscus flowers may be best known for their vitamin C content and their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and multiple studies indicate hibiscus may be helpful in improving all aspects of metabolic syndrome, including high blood pressure.

Several clinical trials have shown that can lower blood pressure. A meta-analysis of five randomized controlled trials with a total of 390 participants found Hibiscus sabdariffa lowered high blood pressure, and was more effective in those with mild blood pressure elevation. In one trial that included 125 hypertensive subjects, 320 mg of Hibiscus sabdariffa twice daily worked as well as ramipril (an anti-hypertensive drug in the ACE inhibitor family) at reducing diastolic pressure, and while it also reduced systolic pressure, this reduction was not as great as with ramapril. Hibiscus sabdariffa was also found to be as effective as the blood pressure-lowering drugs captopril and lisinopril (other ACE inhibitors) and more effective than hydrochlorthiazide (a diuretic used to treat hypertension) in randomized controlled comparison trials in people with high blood pressure.

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, which are associated with antioxidant, fever-reducing (antipyretic), pain-relieving (analgesic), and spasm-inhibiting (spasmolytic) activities. 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.
Hibiscus is a traditional remedy in India for diabetes. Animal research suggests hibiscus extract may stimulate regeneration of pancreatic cells that produce insulin, reduce high glucose and lipid levels, and protect against damage to the heart and kidneys induced by type 1 diabetes. Hibiscus is usually taken as tea, 1 to 2 teaspoons (3 to 6 grams) of dried flower infused into 1 cup (250 ml) of water, three times per day.
1 Star
Type 2 Diabetes
One cup of hibiscus tea two to three times daily
Hibiscus is a traditional remedy for diabetes. Preliminary research suggests it may lower blood pressure and improve lipid levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Hibiscus has a history of use in treating diabetes. Laboratory studies show hibiscus and some of its active constituents have anti-diabetic effects, including enhancing the metabolic response to insulin and inhibiting enzymes that facilitate carbohydrate digestion and glucose absorption. Its potential to improve glycemic control and reduce production of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs, damaged molecules that cause cell and tissue injury) has been demonstrated in animal models of type 2 diabetes. In humans, drinking hibiscus tea two to three times per day for one month was found to improve lipid levels and reduce high blood pressure in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Hibiscus tea is usually made by infusing 1 to 2 teaspoons (3 to 6 grams) of dried flower into 1 cup (250 ml) of hot water.

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,2 which are associated with antioxidant, fever-reducing (antipyretic), pain-relieving (analgesic), and spasm-inhibiting (spasmolytic) activities.3 , 4 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.5 , 6 There is also a high concentration (15 to 30%) of simple organic acids such as citric and malic acids.7

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.8 , 9 , 10 A variety of studies have looked at the potential use of hibiscus for male and female fertility regulation with mixed results.11 , 12 , 13

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.14 One study used 500 ml of tea once a day before breakfast.15

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

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

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

8. 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.

9. Zheng MS. An experimental study of the anti-HSV-II action of 500 herbal drugs. J Tradit Chin Med 1989;9:113-6.

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

11. 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.

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

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. 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.

 

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