The red-flowered hibiscus shrub is a widely cultivated ornamental, and because of its pleasant, tangy taste it is a common constituent of herbal beverage teas. Medicinally, hibiscus has been taken internally for the treatment of various forms of digestive upset, along with scurvy, anxiety, and fevers. It is said to have an antiseptic and astringent effect when used topically.
What Is Hibiscus Used for Today?
Animal studies have suggested that hibiscus might have a blood pressure–lowering effect
In one study, 54 people with hypertension were given either hibiscus tea or no extra treatment for 2 weeks.
Another flawed study enrolled 90 people with hypertension and compared the effectiveness of hibiscus (10 grams dried hibiscus calyx in water daily) against the standard drug captopril (25 mg twice daily).
one double-blind study of hibiscus for hypertension,
171 people were given either hibiscus extract (250 mg
In another double-blind trial, hibiscus was compared to black tea among 60 diabetic patients with mild hypertension.
A typical adult dosage of hibiscus is 10 grams of dried calyx (part of the flower), or an extract that provides 250 mg of anthocyanins daily.
As a widely used beverage tea, hibiscus is presumed to have a high degree of safety. However, comprehensive safety testing has not been performed. Maximum safe doses in pregnant or nursing women, young children, or individuals with severe liver or kidney disease have not been established.
Some evidence suggests that hibiscus might slightly alter the metabolism of the drug acetaminophen, though the effect is probably not large enough to be very important. 15
2. Onyenekwe PC, Ajani EO, Ameh DA, et al. Antihypertensive effect of roselle ( Hibiscus sabdariffa ) calyx infusion in spontaneously hypertensive rats and a comparison of its toxicity with that in Wistar rats. Cell Biochem Funct . 1999;17:199–206.
4. Herrera-Arellano A, Flores-Romero S, Chavez-Soto MA, et al. 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;11:375–82.
6. Lin HH, Huang HP, Huang CC, et al. Hibiscus polyphenol-rich extract induces apoptosis in human gastric carcinoma cells via p53 phosphorylation and p38 MAPK/FasL cascade pathway. Mol Carcinog . 2005;43:86–99.
7. Adetutu A, Odunola OA, Owoade OA, et al. Anticlastogenic effects of Hibiscus sabdariffa fruits against sodium arsenite-induced micronuclei formation in erythrocytes in mouse bone marrow. Phytother Res . 2004;18:862–4.
8. Tseng TH, Kao TW, Chu CY, et al. Induction of apoptosis by hibiscus protocatechuic acid in human leukemia cells via reduction of retinoblastoma (RB) phosphorylation and Bcl-2 expression. Biochem Pharmacol . 2000;60:307–15.
9. Chewonarin T, Kinouchi T, Kataoka K, et al. Effects of roselle ( Hibiscus sabdariffa Linn.), a Thai medicinal plant, on the mutagenicity of various known mutagens in Salmonella typhimurium and on formation of aberrant crypt foci induced by the colon carcinogens azoxymethane and 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine in F344 rats. Food Chem Toxicol . 1999;37:591–601.
14. Chen CC, Chou FP, Ho YC. Inhibitory effects of Hibiscus sabdariffa L extract on low-density lipoprotein oxidation and anti-hyperlipidemia in fructose-fed and cholesterol-fed rats. J Sci Food Agric . 2004;84:1989–96.
16. Herrera-Arellano A, Miranda-Sanchez J, Avila-Castro P, et al. Clinical effects produced by a standardized herbal medicinal product of Hibiscus sabdariffa on patients with hypertension: a randomized, double-blind, lisinopril-controlled clinical trial. Planta Med . 2007;73:6-12.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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