Amazing Benefits and Side Effects Hibiscus Tea
The health benefits of hibiscus tea, also known as Agua de Jamaica, include its ability to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, disturbed digestive and immune system, and inflammatory problems as well. It helps cure liver diseases and reduces the risk of cancer. It can also speed up the metabolism and help in healthy, gradual weight loss. It is rich in vitamin C, minerals, and antioxidants and helps in the treatment of hypertension and anxiety.
Hibiscus tea (sometimes referred to as “sour tea”) is one of those incredible, yummy teas that is high on the list of drinks to keep around the house, like matcha green tea and yerba mate. That’s because hibiscus tea benefits are so numerous — the large amount of antioxidants found in this beverage earn it the status of a “therapeutic agent” for a number of issues, according to an article published in the Journal of Experimental Pharmacology in 2012.
The tea revolution is taking over the world. You can prepare tea with almost every ingredient. The health benefits of natural tea are becoming common knowledge these days; the prices too have skyrocketed. But what if I told you that you could prepare tea from one of the easily available ingredients in your garden?
What is Hibiscus Tea?
Hibiscus tea is prepared by boiling parts of the hibiscus plant, known by its scientific name Hibiscus sabdariffa, particularly the flower. It is a very popular beverage throughout the world and is often used as a medicinal tea. Hibiscus flowers have various names and are known as “Roselle” in some places.
Hibiscus tea is ruby red in color and has a sour taste. Therefore, it is also known as sour tea and has a flavor similar to cranberry. It is widely available in the market throughout the tea-drinking world and can be consumed hot or cold depending on your preference. This tea is low in calories and is caffeine-free.
- Scientific Name- Hibiscus sabdariffa
- Origin- Africa
- Plant Type- Shrub
- Other Name- Roselle
Many of us confuse this flower with the typical red flowered Hibiscus ascetosella which is just a decoration flower with no medicinal usage whatsoever. On the other hand, Hibiscus sabdariffa is full of health benefits as its flowers, fruit and especially calyx (used to make tea).
This particular tea is made from the dried and brightly colored calyces of Hibiscus sabdariffa. However, this particular ruby red drink is sour in taste, which can make your mouth twitch. Remember the tangy taste of the cranberry juice? Well, yes. They taste the same. It can be consumed according to your preference, i.e., hot or cold. And just like other herbal teas, hibiscus tea is low in calories and totally caffeine-free for those wanting to stay away from it. I’m not saying that caffeine is void of any benefits, it is indeed helpful for getting an instant supply of energy and is preferably the best for pulling off an all-nighter. But the side effects just cannot be ignored.
Hibiscus Tea Benefits
Manages Blood Pressure
There are a few foods that lower blood pressure to take notice of, particularly if you are at risk for hypertension. Hibiscus tea makes that list with glowing reviews. Several studies have found it to lower blood pressure significantly, even in patients with certain health conditions that increase the risk of high blood pressure.
A 2013 review by the University of Arizona discovered that hibiscus tea is used in 10 or more countries as normal treatment for hypertension without any reported adverse events or side effects — except in extremely high doses. The study led these researchers to state that “extracts of [hibiscus] are promising as a treatment of hypertension.” They did point out, however, that high-quality studies (known in the scientific community as the “gold standard”) are needed to see the specific interactions of hibiscus tea on high blood pressure.
It does seem to be the case that hibiscus can lower blood pressure in prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive animal and human models.
Of significant note is the fact that these results extend to diabetic patients. After about four weeks, researchers conducting multiple trials have found that blood pressure is positively impacted by daily drinking hibiscus tea. One study specifically mentions three glasses of tea each day as the chosen dosage.
A study in Nigeria discovered hibiscus tea to be more effective than hydrochlorothiazide, a common blood-pressure lowering medication, at decreasing blood pressure. The most significant finding was that hibiscus tea, unlike its study counterpart, hydrochlorothiazide, did not cause electrolyte imbalance.
It helps to lower the levels of (bad) LDL cholesterol from the body, thereby helping to protect against heart diseases and protecting blood vessels from damage. The hypolipidemic and hypoglycemic properties of hibiscus tea can be beneficial for those who suffer from blood sugar disorders like diabetes. A research study conducted on patients with type II diabetes suggests that consumption of hibiscus sour tea lowers cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which helps to manage this unpredictable disease.
Research studies have also suggested that the antioxidant properties of hibiscus tea also help in treating liver diseases.  Antioxidants help protect your body from diseases because they neutralize the free radicals present in body tissues and cells. Therefore, we can confidently say that drinking hibiscus tea could increase your lifespan by maintaining good overall health.
Keeps Your Liver Healthy
We all know the importance of liver in our body. Any liver related problems can throw your life out of gear. Is there help at hand? Certainly. Read on to know.
Why Does It Work
Well, it’s again the work of antioxidants present in this drink that neutralize free radicals in your body, tissues, and cells. Thus our liver is well protected from these scavengers
Prevents Oxidative Stress
Like most healthy teas, hibiscus is full of antioxidants that fight free radical damage caused by poor diet and constant exposure to dangerous chemicals. These are found mainly in the anthocyanins of the plant, the natural pigments that give this flower its red color, as shown in rat models.
A small human research study discovered that supplementing with hibiscus tea increased antioxidant load in the bloodstream and reduced compounds that can contribute to oxidative stress that damages cells. Because subjects had elevated amounts of hippuric acid, the conclusion of the study suggests that the polyphenols (antioxidants) of hibiscus must have been significantly transformed by the gut microbiome.
Hibiscus tea contains hibiscus protocatechuic acid which has anti-tumor and antioxidant properties. A study conducted by the Department and Institute of Biochemistry at the Chung Shan Medical and Dental College, in Taichung, Taiwan suggests that hibiscus slows down the growth of cancerous cells by inducing apoptosis, commonly known as programmed cell death.
Reduces Obesity and Related Risks
Put some red hibiscus tea next to the bottle of red wine if you’re looking for a drink to help reduce obesity risk. While those antioxidants are working to protect your cells, those and other compounds found in hibiscus have the potential to encourage weight loss and minimize other related risks, as shown in research on rats.
Human and animal studies have found a link between hibiscus tea and an increased metabolism. Hibiscus extract may even inhibit you from absorbing as much starch and sucrose as you might from a typical meal.
Drinking hibiscus tea at least once a day may also help you fight insulin resistance, a common marker of prediabetes and various other conditions. In fact, it can even help in maintaining healthy blood sugar in diabetes patients, which means it may help reduce every symptom in the metabolic syndrome cluster.
Another disease connected to obesity (and diet) is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This disease is identified as a buildup of extra fat cells within the liver, not caused by alcohol use. Commonly understood causes of NAFLD include obesity, poor eating habits, diabetes and dyslipidemia.
In both animals and humans, studies have shown hibiscus tea benefits the liver by reducing the risk of this fatty buildup, which can potentially lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer or liver failure if left untreated.
Relieves Menstrual Pain
The health benefits of hibiscus tea include relief from cramps and menstrual pain. It helps in restoring hormonal balance as well, which can reduce the symptoms of menstruation like mood swings, depression, and overeating.
With rising expectations and stress levels, it’s easy to fall prey to depression. Among the ways to beat the blues is also sipping lukewarm hibiscus tea.
Why Does It Work
Rich in flavonoids that carry antidepressant properties, hibiscus tea, helps fight depression. It calms our nervous system, reduces anxiety attacks by making us more relaxed
Many people drink hibiscus tea to improve digestion as it regularizes both urination and bowel movements. Since it has diuretic properties, it is also used to treat constipation, which helps you lose weight, improve the health of your gastrointestinal system, and avoid colorectal cancer.
Potential Staph Infection Remedy
At least one type of hibiscus displays antibacterial power, too. At least one lab study has found that extracts of Hibiscus rosa sinensis, a less common but still useful hibiscus plant sometimes used to make tea, might have serious MRSA-killing potential.
MRSA is a bacteria that causes over 90,000 staph infections in the U.S. each year. Prevention and treatment of staph infection are vital, as they are linked to serious problems like abscesses, sepsis and pneumonia.
Hibiscus tea is beneficial for weight loss. You are likely to gain weight if you consume food that is rich in carbohydrates. However, studies have suggested that hibiscus extract lowers the absorption of starch and glucose and may help in weight loss. Hibiscus inhibits the production of amylase, which helps in the absorption of carbohydrates and starch, so drinking hibiscus tea prevents the absorption from occurring. Therefore, hibiscus tea is found in many weight loss products.
May Prevent Kidney Stones
Because it functions as a diuretic, hibiscus tea has also turned the heads of those studying the health of the kidney and urinary systems. Initial animal testing suggests that hibiscus tea presents what is known as an “anti-urolithiatic property,” meaning that it may lower the instance of compounds that form kidney stones.
Summer & Winter Drink
You can drink hibiscus tea either as a hot tea or an iced tea. If you want to keep yourself warm in the winter, brew it and drink it straight away. It takes only a few minutes to make. In case you do not want to drink it hot, perhaps in the summer, you have the option to drink hibiscus iced tea. It takes about 20 minutes for preparation, and then you can cool yourself off in a healthy, refreshing way.
It must sound funny; chilled hibiscus tea can quench your thirst, and that is why you see most sports person gulping it down.
Why Does It Work
Hibiscus drink has instant cooling properties . Being diuretic, it helps in flushing out harmful toxins
Rich in Vitamin C
Fulfill your daily intake of Vitamin C from hibiscus tea. Vitamin C is key to keeping our immune system intact to avoid any viral infections. Just wow!
Hibiscus tea has a taste that is very similar to cranberry juice. It can definitely be described as tart, so you can add sugar or honey to increase the sweetness. Also, you can try adding spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger depending on your taste.
Side Effects Of Hibiscus Tea
- Affects Estrogen
Consuming hibiscus tea can lower your estrogen levels. If you are using HRT (hormone replacement therapy), or are on birth control treatment of any form, you should consider skipping your hibiscus tea. A recent study conducted by Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, India, released a study on this effect of hibiscus tea.
- Blood Pressure
The health benefits of hibiscus tea include lowering blood pressure (anti-hypertensive property). Therefore, it is not recommended for people who already have low blood pressure, a condition called hypotension. It may cause faintness, dizziness, and can even damage the heart or brain if consumed by anyone with low blood pressure.
- Pregnancy and Fertility
We already told you that hibiscus tea cuts estrogen levels. It also means that consuming hibiscus tea can have a direct effect on your reproductive ability.
Hibiscus tea is not recommended for pregnant women, particularly due to its emmenagogic effects which may stimulate menstruation or blood flow in the uterus or pelvic region.  For those undergoing hormonal treatments or taking birth control pills, it is recommended to consult your health specialist regarding consumption of this variety of tea.
- Hallucinatory Effect
Hibiscus tea can have hallucinogenic effects, and many people feel light headed and even intoxicated after having it. Some people may feel intoxicated or experience hallucinations after drinking hibiscus tea. Therefore, be cautious until you know how your body reacts to the tea. Don’t drive a car or try anything particularly dangerous until you know what its effects are on your system.
Some people develop allergic reactions such as itchy red eyes, sinus or hay fever when consuming hibiscus tea.
- Cancer Complications
The Research concludes that hibiscus affects cancerous cells in the skin and brain. The National Cancer Institute finds that if you are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy, you should avoid having hibiscus tea, as it may cause complications when taken along with cancer medications. This is one of the major hibiscus tea side effects that you should be aware of.
- Low Blood Pressure
Although this is one of the major benefits of hibiscus tea, and it helps reduce the risk of hypertension, the blood pressure lowering and diuretic properties may result in expanded blood vessels. Thus, if you suffer from low blood pressure or hypertension, and you are taking pressure-lowering medications, you must consider removing hibiscus tea from your diet.
How to Find the Best Hibiscus Tea
Like most supplements, it’s important to purchase hibiscus leaves, powder or extract from trustworthy sources with a good reputation. Some experts suggest that, if you purchase hibiscus in extract form, it should be in an airless pump that hasn’t touched the air so you still get the full hibiscus tea benefits.
If you purchase dried hibiscus, you are actually getting the calyces of the plant, which surround the petals, rather than the petals themselves.
All hibiscus teas are caffeine-free, so feel free to try a variety of them to find your favorite.
How to Make Hibiscus Tea
It’s pretty easy to make your own hibiscus tea. After boiling water, place the dried calyces of the plant into the water and wait until it turns deep red. This will produce concentrated hibiscus tea, so then add about half the amount of water in cool.
Sweeten with raw honey or stevia to your desired taste when it’s warm, but not hot. Optionally garnish with mint or a slice of lime, and you’ve got a healthy, delicious beverage that can be served hot or cold. Some recipes recommend adding a cinnamon stick for flavor.
History and Interesting Facts About Hibiscus Tea
Around the world, hibiscus tea has been a favorite in many cultures for centuries. Although its popularity is increasing in the United States as more research supports hibiscus tea benefits for health, it is very popular in Mexico, Central America, parts of South America and the Caribbean.
In Panama, hibiscus is used to make saril or sorrel tea, a holiday drink flavored with ginger, cinnamon, clove, sugar and nutmeg. Egyptians and the Sudanese traditionally drink hibiscus tea at wedding celebrations. Bissap, a variation of hibiscus tea, is known as the “national drink of Senegal.”
This is also a popular addition to many European tea cabinets, although in Europe, it’s more common to find hibiscus as one ingredient in a mixed herbal tea.
Many countries use hibiscus tea in their traditional practices to treat a variety of illnesses. In traditional Chinese medicine, hibiscus leaves are used to topically treat herpes zoster, also known as shingles or a recurrence of chickenpox.
In the book “Edible and Medicinal Flowers,” author Margaret Roberts even suggests that hibiscus tea sweetened with honey is an excellent hangover remedy.
Not many people are aware that almost 15-30% of hibiscus tea is composed of organic acids. These acids are malic acid, tartaric acid, and citric acid. They are commonly found in fruits such as grapes and wine. They help in boosting immunity, promoting better skin, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, managing inflammation, and improving digestive issues. Hibiscus tea has diuretic and choleretic effects, thus controlling blood viscosity by reducing blood pressure and enhancing digestion.