While there are quite a few delicious teas available these days that are flavored with blends of various herbs, flowers and fruits, not many can hold a candle to hibiscus tea. Also known as “Jamaica flower”, the dried petals of the hibiscus (which comes in numerous varieties), when steeped in hot water, would likely convert the most adamant anti-herbal-tea person into a lover of this drink. For aromatherapy use, their pungent scent is also highly esteemed, especially as an essential oil, for promotion of hair growth, skin health, and for clearing up clogged respiratory systems.
Not to be confused, as is often the case, with the Rose of Sharon flower commonly found in North America (although they are related, as is the Swamp Mallow), the hibiscus in use for tea and herbal medicine is more at home in warmer climates. It can often be found in gardens here in Southern California, although it may not always be known by those owning such colorful shrubs that they possess a potent herbal remedy. For that reason, it is common to find this flower mixed in with rose hips, rose petals, red tea (aka rooibos) and other herbal materials in commercial teas sold for their health benefits. Their tart flavor pairs well with rose, and together they both form a strong source of Vitamin C and other antioxidants.
In some studies, it was discovered that either by drinking hibiscus tea or taking capsules of the crushed plant (including seed pods), research subjects experienced lowering of LDL cholesterol. Other studies indicated that this plant was useful as well in lowering blood pressure. In the latter research, once the subjects ceased taking hibiscus, their blood pressure returned to higher states again.
Ayurvedic medicine also makes use of hibiscus for healing of the liver, respiratory illness including colds, and for healthy, shiny hair and skin (used externally). In some instances it can be used to regulate the menstrual cycle—however, caution must be used, as it can also cause pregnant women to miscarry or go into premature labor.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, hibiscus flowers as well as their leaves and roots are used. For brain tonic, treatment of bronchitis, digestive disorders, and various other ailments of internal organs (especially the liver), this plant has held importance for centuries.
Some alternative medicine practitioners believe that hibiscus is able to stimulate the metabolism, thus aiding in conditions such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes and obesity. Any time, though, that you attempt to alter your metabolic rate, great care should be taken to first establish that such a change will not trigger another condition. For example, those who are diabetic must be careful that a charged-up metabolism will not interfere with the delicate balance between insulin and blood glucose levels.
In using hibiscus tea as a healthy drink or an infusion specified toward any condition, you are going to enjoy a flavorful and aromatic beverage that can be a good part of your diet overall. It is a great source of nutrients important in anyone’s diet and can also be a satisfactory substitute for other, non-nutritive drinks.