Hibiscus is a bushy annual plant. Parts of the flower are used to make a popular drink in Egypt called Karkade. Various parts of the plant are also used to make jams, spices, soups, and sauces. The flowers are used to make medicine.
Hibiscus is used for treating loss of appetite, colds, heart and nerve diseases, upper respiratory tract pain and swelling (inflammation), fluid retention, stomach irritation, and disorders of circulation; for dissolving phlegm; as a gentle laxative; and as a diuretic to increase urine output.
In foods and beverages, hibiscus is used as a flavoring. It is also used to improve the odor, flavor, or appearance of tea mixtures.
How does it work?
The fruit acids in hibiscus may work like a laxative. Some researchers think that other chemicals in hibiscus might be able to lower blood pressure; decrease spasms in the stomach, intestines, and uterus; and work like antibiotics to kill bacteria and worms.
Possibly Effective for:
- High blood pressure: Some early research shows that drinking hibiscus tea for 2-6 weeks decreases blood pressure in people with mildly high blood pressure. Other early research shows that taking a hibiscus extract by mouth for 4 weeks may be as effective as the prescription drug captopril for reducing blood pressure in people with mild to moderate high blood pressure. However, an analysis of results from various clinical studies suggests that there is not enough evidence to draw strong conclusions about the effects of hibiscus in reducing high blood pressure.
Insufficient Evidence for
- High cholesterol: Some early research suggests that taking hibiscus extract by mouth or consuming hibiscus tea might lower cholesterol levels in people with metabolic syndrome or diabetes. However other early research shows that taking a specific extract of hibiscus leaves (Green Chem, Bangalore, India) for 90 days does not improve cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol. Also, taking hibiscus extract by mouth for 12 weeks does not appear to reduce cholesterol compared to the drug pravastatin and may actually increase cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol.
- Loss of appetite.
- Irritated stomach.
- Fluid retention.
- Heart disease.
- Nerve disease.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate hibiscus for these uses.
Hibiscus is LIKELY SAFE for most people in when consumed in food amounts. It is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately in medicinal amounts. The possible side effects of hibiscus are not known.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Hibiscus is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy. There is some evidence that hibiscus might start menstruation, and this could cause a miscarriage. There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking hibiscus if you are breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side, and avoid use.
- Diabetes: Hibiscus might decrease blood sugar levels. The dose of your diabetes medications might need to be adjusted by your healthcare provider.
- Low blood pressure: Hibiscus might lower blood pressure. In theory, taking hibiscus might make blood pressure become too low in people with low blood pressure.
- Surgery: Hibiscus might affect blood sugar levels, making blood sugar control difficult during and after surgery. Stop using hibiscus at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Minor Interaction: Be watchful with this combination
◦ Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) interacts with HIBISCUS
: Drinking a hibiscus beverage before taking acetaminophen might increase how fast your body gets rid of acetaminophen. But more information
The appropriate dose of hibiscus depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for hibiscus. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
Conditions of Use and Important Information: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.
This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.