Hibiscus tea is made from the hibiscus plant known as Hibiscus sabdariffa. The parts of the hibiscus plant used to make this herbal tea are the vibrantly colored hibiscus flowers. The petals are steeped in boiling water to create a sour tea with tart and tangy flavors.
The taste of hibiscus tea is similar to cranberries and is delicious when brewed as a hot tea or a refreshing iced tea. Hibiscus tea is commonly called Agua de Jamaica or roselle and brews into a rich ruby red color.
This herbal tea is naturally caffeine-free and the petals contain high amounts of vitamin C as well as other antioxidants and minerals that are beneficial for the immune system and overall health. Read on to find out more about hibiscus tea benefits backed by scientific research.
Hibiscus extract is a popular weight loss supplement. Drinking this herbal tea may also help you reach your weight loss goals thanks to its chemical composition. While most weight loss research shows that concentrated forms of this plant are more powerful, the tea is a tasty way to satisfy sweet cravings and can help to a lesser extent.
A study published in Food and Function investigated the effects of hibiscus extract on 36 participants who had a body mass index of more than 27. Seventeen patients were assigned to the control group and 19 were given hibiscus extract every day for a 12 week period. Results showed that the experimental group lost more weight and had less body fat compared to the control group (1).
A second study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology examined the impacts of hibiscus on obese mice. Researchers in this study also found a significant improvement in weight loss. They also found that hibiscus tea improved liquid intake in obese mice (2).
Like many herbal tisanes and true teas, hibiscus tea is chock full of antioxidants. Research shows that antioxidants in hibiscus leaves are so powerful, they scavenged anywhere from 69 to 92 percent of free radicals (3).
Free radicals are uncharged cells that attach to healthy human cells and cause a deterioration in normal processes known as oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is essentially the human body's version of rust. Oxidative stress and free radicals have been linked to everything from premature aging to serious diseases such as dementia that affect the nervous system. Antioxidants have been shown to prevent oxidative stress, helping to boost overall health.
One of the most common uses of hibiscus in traditional medicine is to prevent liver disease. While the tea is a popular aid in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine, modern medical research has focused almost exclusively on hibiscus extract when evaluating potential benefits.
One such animal study was published in Food and Nutrition Research. Scientists analyzed the effects of hibiscus extract on liver health in hamsters. The hamsters were divided into groups and fed either a normal diet or a high-fat diet and given hibiscus extract for 10 weeks.
Researchers found that the hibiscus group had lower levels of liver cholesterol and triglycerides. They also found that hibiscus extracts reduced markers of liver damage (4).
A second animal study found that hibiscus contains anthocyanins, which help to protect against liver damage in rats. The researchers found that hibiscus extract played a role in preventing oxidative stress. This, in turn, helped to protect against liver damage in rats that suffered from hepatic toxicity (5).
Hibiscus flower petals contain high amounts of vitamin C, which has been shown to boost immune health (6). Vitamin C has natural antibacterial properties' that make it a common ingredient in household cleaners and disinfectants. It's one of the many reasons people use lemons to clean countertops. These antibacterial effects may also help to prevent dangerous pathogens that make you sick.
One study published in the Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology found that a hibiscus solution was effective against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. In fact, the hibiscus solution was as effective as gentamicin and more effective than penicillin against certain bacterial strains (7).
A second study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found similar effects of hibiscus against E. coli. In fact, researchers found that a hibiscus solution strongly inhibited E. coli bacteria in a laboratory setting (8).
Millions of Americans suffer from heart disease. Those who are looking for a natural way to approach the treatment of hypertension may find hibiscus tea useful. Hibiscus tea and extract may help lower high blood pressure and be beneficial for hypertensive adults.
That's because hibiscus boasts anti-inflammatory properties that can help decrease inflammation and improve blood circulation. Compounds in hibiscus may help to decrease inflammation in blood vessels, improving blood flow and reducing the risk of clots and heart attacks.
A review published in the Journal of Hypertension found that consumption of hibiscus led to a decrease in systolic blood pressure. The review examined five randomized, controlled trials consisting of a total of 390 participants (9).
A second study published in the Journal of Nutrition found similar benefits. Researchers examined 65 hypertensive adults in a 6-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Results showed a significant decrease in diastolic blood pressure attributed to the hibiscus extract (10). More research is needed to validate these results, but there is significant promise when it comes to using hibiscus extract for supporting the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.
Some research shows that hibiscus may be beneficial in regulating cholesterol levels. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that hibiscus extract increased good HDL cholesterol and decreased bad LDL cholesterol in patients with type II diabetes (11).
It's important to note that most research showing a decrease in high cholesterol was only witnessed in patients who already suffered from a cholesterol-related condition. Research on the general population has shown little to no effects of hibiscus on serum lipids and cholesterol (12).
Hibiscus tea is considered safe when consumed in mild to moderate amounts. Possible side effects include allergic reactions, blood pressure changes, and complications for pregnant women.
Hibiscus tea boasts antihypertensive properties that may lower blood pressure. If you have a condition or already suffer from low blood pressure, drinking hibiscus tea may cause complications. Hibiscus tea may also affect blood sugar so talk to a physician if you take medications or have a medical condition before consumption.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve the use of hibiscus in treating any medical conditions. Talk to a healthcare professional before trying this herbal tea.
Research studies show that hibiscus tea may cause increased blood flow (13). This may cause complications for women who are pregnant as increased blood flow in the uterus can lead to miscarriage and encourage menstruation. Avoid hibiscus tea if you are pregnant.
If you are allergic to hibiscus plants, avoid taking hibiscus extract or drinking the tea. If you experience symptoms such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, or excessive sneezing when drinking hibiscus tea, stop use immediately.
Hibiscus tea is a popular American favorite. Drink hibiscus tea for the tart and tangy flavor. The sweet tea is the perfect option for satisfying a sweet tooth and the vivid red hue makes it a stunning display at any tea party.