Health Benefits of Hibiscus Tea
Andreea Macoveiciuc | On 06, Jan 2014
January 2014 is the National Hot Tea Month, and in order to celebrate it properly, you should try a different tea assortment every day, and have it hot, first thing in the morning. Still, as Dr. Mercola says, try not to fall for designer foods, or teas in our case.
The beverages we buy from supermarkets are often loaded with unnecessary ingredients, which add calories and interfere with the natural flavor and taste of tea. In fact, if you’re curious enough to check the labels of the tea packages you have at home right now, you might discover that lots of them contain added fragrances, for an enhanced taste.
While these extra ingredients do their job, meaning that they turn the regular teas into more flavorful beverages, there’s also a downside to this: if I’m out and order a cup of green tea, I probably want to drink only green tea, not green tea with some extra bits of this and that.
Same happens with commercial ice tea: you’re supposed to get a glass of pure, delicious cool tea, but receive some strange combination of chemicals and tea extract. And unless you’re a tea connoisseur, it’s easy to be misled by these claimed “pure” teas.
This is why I generally recommend using loose leaf tea and sticking with pure, organic teas. And hibiscus tea makes no exception: if you want to feel the real taste of this Iranian sour tea, you need to prepare it using the beautifully looking Hibiscus flowers.
Hibiscus tea is quite popular in the U.S. these days, thanks to its proven health benefits: the deep-red beverage works by lowering the blood pressure, being an excellent natural remedy for people with type 2 diabetes and mild hypertension. Yet, this isn’t the only positive effect of this refreshing drink.
Traditional uses of hibiscus tea
Hibiscus tea is a tisane, and just like other herbal teas out there, it has a long history of use in traditional medicine systems. The beverage provides significant amounts of minerals, vitamin C and organic acids, hence its use in treating colds, respiratory tract infections and inflammations, constipation and loss of appetite.
The beverage is also recommended as natural remedy against heart disease, disorders of circulation or stomach irritation and digestive discomfort. The fruit acids work as natural antibiotics or anti-bacterial compounds, so they’re effective in keeping bacteria and worms away.
Through their high content of anthocyanins, flavonoids known for their powerful antioxidant effects, hibiscus flowers are able to fight the harmful effects of free radicals, keeping cells healthier for longer. These benefits are visible especially in the condition of your skin, which appears softer and more flexible, with fewer wrinkles.
Also, being a natural diuretic, hibiscus tea prevents excessive water retention, helping maintain proper hydration levels and preventing water weight gain, edema, bloating and puffiness.
Proven health benefits of hibiscus tea
Although more research is needed for supporting these traditional uses, there are enough studies that prove the effectiveness of hibiscus tea in people with two specific health issues: high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
A trial conducted in 2010, involving 222 patients with metabolic problems, showed that hibiscus tea supports normal blood sugar levels and helps in cholesterol maintenance. Another study published in 2009 showed the same effectiveness of this beverage in supporting normal cholesterol values, as well as positive effects on the levels of triglycerides, this time in patients with healthy blood glucose levels.
Also, a review published in 2010 in Cochrane showed that daily use of hibiscus tea is helpful in maintaining blood pressure levels. A trial dating from 2009 compared the effects of black and hibiscus tea among people with healthy blood sugar values and revealed that hibiscus tea impacts the systolic blood pressure, while black tea doesn’t have this effect.
Dosage and potential side effects of hibiscus tea
There are also studies reporting no effects of hibiscus tea in the previously mentioned conditions, so we can conclude that the type of hibiscus tea you use – powder, extract, loose leaf – makes all the difference. For cholesterol maintenance, the recommended daily intake is 1,000 mg of dried herb, taken three times a day, or 100 g of hibiscus extract, taken two times a day.
If you plan using this tea for maintaining your blood pressure in normal limits, you should take two cups of tea per day, or dried, powdered extract providing 250 mg of anthocyanins per day. In case you opt for liquid hibiscus capsules, you should stick with 3 to 4 caps per day, as these provide the same amounts of active principles as two cups of hibiscus tea.
This beverage is considered safe for most people, but it’s not recommended during pregnancy or to nursing women, as scientists believe hibiscus tea stimulates menstruation and can lead to miscarriages.
Also, the effects of active principles in this beverage are known to interfere with the action of acetaminophen, so if you’re using the over-the-counter pain killer and drinking hibiscus tea, the drug might leave the body faster therefore the pain relief might not last as long as it should.
To sum it up, hibiscus tea is surely a good addition to any diet, thanks to its proven benefits in maintaining proper cholesterol levels and in lowering blood pressure. Also, it may be an effective natural remedy for several health issues, from digestion problems to respiratory infections.
But even without these potential health effects, it remains a tasty and flavorful tisane, so it’s surely worth putting it on your list if you decide celebrating the National Hot Tea Month!