The Benefits of Hibiscus Tea

Benefits, Uses, Side Effects & Tips

Hibiscus tea
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Hibiscus tea is made from the flowers of the hibiscus plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa). Rich in phytonutrients, the ruby-red colored herbal tea is also a good source of vitamin C. Although few studies have tested the benefits of hibiscus, early research suggests that hibiscus tea may offer antioxidant effects and enhance cardiovascular health.

The Benefits of Hibiscus Tea: Can It Really Help?

Here's a look at key findings from the available research on the benefits of hibiscus:

1) High Blood Pressure

Drinking hibiscus tea daily may benefit people with high blood pressure, according to report published in the Journal of Hypertension in 2015. For the report, researchers sized up five previously published clinical trials investigating the effects of hibiscus on blood pressure. Results revealed that hibiscus lowered both systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number in a blood pressure reading).

In a 2010 research review published in Phytomedicine, scientists reviewed four clinical trials on the use of hibiscus tea in the treatment of high blood pressure. While each trial showed that hibiscus may help lower blood pressure, the review's authors caution that three of the four studies were of poor quality.

2) Diabetes

Hibiscus tea may offer some health benefits to people with type 2 diabetes. In a 2009 study from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, for instance, researchers assigned 60 diabetes patients to drink hibiscus tea or black tea twice daily for a month. Looking at data on the 53 people who completed the study, the study's authors found that members of the hibiscus group had a significant increase in HDL ("good") cholesterol and a significant decrease in total cholesterol and LDL ("bad") cholesterol.

In a 2009 study from the Journal of Human Hypertension, meanwhile, scientists discovered that daily consumption of hibiscus tea may help lower blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes.

3) High Cholesterol

Although hibiscus tea is sometimes promoted for keeping high cholesterol levels in check, a research review published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2013 suggests that it may not help.

Researchers analyzed six previously published studies (involving a total of 474 participants) on the effects of hibiscus on blood lipids, and found that it failed to produce a significant effect on total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Possible Side Effects

Hibiscus tea has been found to contain aluminum, iron, potassium, manganese, nickel, zinc, boron, magnesium, and phosphorus, according to a study published in Food Chemistry in 2013. Overconsumption may have adverse effects, and certain people (such as pregnant or breastfeeding women and children) may need to avoid it entirely.

Like other herbal teas, hibiscus tea can interfere with prescription and over-the-counter drugs and supplements.

If you're considering hibiscus tea for any health condition, make sure to consult your physician first. Self-treating a condition (like high blood pressure) and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

The Takeaway

A delicious, versatile beverage that can be sipped warm or made into an iced tea, hibiscus tea contains a number of healthful substances (including anthocyanins), so drinking it occasionally may offer some mild benefits. Although early research suggests that hibiscus tea may offer benefits for people with conditions like high blood pressure, large-scale trials are needed before it can be recommended for any condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, interactions, circumstances, or adverse effects. Always talk to your doctor before using any supplement or alternative medicine.

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Article Sources
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  • Malik J, Frankova A, Drabek O, Szakova J, Ash C, Kokoska L. Aluminium and other elements in selected herbal tea plant species and their infusions. Food Chem. 2013 Aug 15;139(1-4):728-34.
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