Published : 2019-05-28 - Categories : Plants description index , PLANTS WORLD


Latin Name

Hibiscus sabdariffa

Family Malvaceae

Known As (synonyms) : Red Sorel, Sour tea, Roselle, Karkade

Origin :

Although native to Angola, it is now cultivated in many tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world, especially in Sudan, Egypt, Mexico, China, India and Thailand. There are over 200 species within the genus Hibiscus.

Parts Used :

Flowers and leaves. The flowers contain a pigment named cyanidin that could be found in other berries (acai, cranberry, raspberry, elderberry…). Its specificity is that it can range in color from red, pink, orange, purple to yellow, the reason why the flowers exhibit a splendid array of colors, with the particularity that flower color in some species modifies with age.

Active constituents :

The most important pharmacologically active constituents of hibiscus are acids (citric, malic, tartaric, hibiscus acid) found in the calyces. Other constituents include alkaloids, L-ascorbic acid, anthocyanin, beta carotene, beta sitosterol, polysaccharides (arabins and arabinogalactans), quercetin, gossypetin, as well as small amounts of galactose, arabinose, glucose, xylose, mannose and rhamnose. The antioxidant property can be attributed to the polyphenolic contents and vitamin C.

Traditional use :

Hibiscus leaves and flowers have been used for their diuretic, choleretic, hypotensive effect and also for stimulating the intestinal peristalsis. In China, the seeds have been used for their oil and the leaves for the topical treatment of zona zoster. 

In African traditional medicine, hibiscus has been used for its spasmolytic, antibacterial, cholagogue, diuretic and anthelmintic properties [1]. Dry or fresh hibiscus calyces are the main ingredient in tasty hot or cold teas, jams, jellies, wine and various refreshing beverages. They can also be used as flavoring agents in puddings, ice creams, cakes and chocolates.

Benefits :

Because of its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and diuretic proprieties, hibiscus reduces high blood pressure, high cholesterol and aids in relieving digestive and immune system problems with potential help in liver diseases and cancer. Hibiscus activates the metabolism linked to gradual weight loss and maintains a good mental health.
Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antipyretic, hepatoprotective, nephroprotective and immunomodulatory activities [1].
Lowers blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure can drop by up to 10 points and diastolic pressure by up to 5 points [2].
Antiseptic for respiratory tract, antibacterial, antifungal and antiparasitic activity, emollient and light laxative [1].
Several studies have showed that extracts of hibiscus have a lipid lowering activity, which could prevent diseases like hyperlipidemia and cardiovascular diseases (atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease) helping in metabolic syndrome and over weight control [1].
The protective effect of a polyphenolic extract of hibiscus was studied in a type II diabetes revealing anti-insulin resistance properties as it reduced hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia [1].
The leaves extract reduces invasiveness of prostate cancer cells [3].

How to add hibiscus to your diet :

A pleasant and enjoyable way to add hibiscus to your diet is under the form of tea. The hibiscus tea exerts a protective activity for the overall health, being capable to eliminate toxins, to stimulate cerebral activity, to decrease liver fat, to lower blood sugar and blood pressure.

Here are two of my favorite tea formulas, that I am happily share with you :

My “Healthy protection tea” made with: 

o 1 part Hibiscus,
o 1 part Melissa,
o Optionally, spices could be added: cinnamon, cloves, mint leaves, lemon wedges, 1/4 vanilla bean or ginger depending on your taste,
o Honey or stevia for sweetness.

My “Healthy adipose tissue tea” [4] made with: 

o 1 part Hibiscus,
o 1 part Lemon verbena,
o Optionally, spices could be added: cinnamon, cloves, mint leaves, lemon wedges, 1/4 vanilla bean or ginger depending on your taste,
o Honey or stevia for sweetness

Precautions :

Hibiscus tea and supplements have some minor side effects which have been associated only with very high doses. Pregnant or nursing mothers should never drink hibiscus tea or take hibiscus products, as they can induce menstruation. Patients who are diabetic and already on high blood pressure medication must be carefully because hibiscus can lower blood sugar and blood pressure.

Curiosity – in China hibiscus is known as “shoe flower”, as people use it to polish their shoes. The extract is used to dye eyebrows and hair. Hibiscus was declared the “flavor of the year 2019” by Firmenich, the highly renowned Fragrance and Flavor House, for its worldwide use in various foods and beverages.


[1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030881461400692X
[2] https://www.ars.usda.gov/news-events/news/research-news/2008/study-shows-consuming-hibiscus-tea-lowers-blood-pressure/
[3] http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/hibiscus-sabdariffa-extract-led-reduced-invasiveness-prostate-cancer-cells
[4] http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/combination-lemon-verbena-and-hibiscus-flower-extract-prevents-high-fat-diet-i


All the information provided on this article is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. It’s important to remember that this content doesn’t provide dosage information, formal recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. This information should be used under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner. Ensure that you won’t be complicating any ongoing treatments.

Share this content

Add a comment

 (with http://)