Hibiscus tea may help in weight loss, lower blood pressure and fats, have anti-cancer properties, antibacterial properties, and improve heart and liver health.
Hibiscus tea is from the hibiscus plant made by steeping dried parts of the plant in a boiling. The tea tastes like cranberries and has been primed to have numerous health benefits ranging from lowering blood pressure to fighting bacterial infections. Hibiscus herbal tea has a deep red colour and is taken cold or hot with the same flavour. The Hibiscus plant is also used in making drinks such as lo-Shen, Sudan tea, red sorrel, sour tea, and karkade.
Hibiscus tea has historically been used in Africa to treat heart disease, lower body temperatures, and treat sore throat. Recent studies have examined the benefits of hibiscus tea as below.
It Is Rich In Antioxidants
Antioxidants from hibiscus tea can help fight free radicals that can potentially damage the cells in the body. One study involving rats given hibiscus extracts showed an increase in antioxidants enzymes, which reduced the effects of free radicals on cell damage by 92%. Another study indicated that hibiscus tea made from leaves of the plant also had active antioxidant properties. However, the studies involved animals and used high concentrated hibiscus extract, which means that more human studies should establish the value of hibiscus’ antioxidants on humans.
It Could Help in Lowering Blood Pressure
Over the years in Iran, hibiscus tea has been used to help in lowering blood pressure. High blood pressure is not good for the heart as it can result in excessive strain on the heart, making it weak. Heart disease can also be exacerbated by high blood pressure. Hibiscus tea has been found to lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure. For example, one study on individuals with high blood pressure showed that those who took hibiscus tea had a reduced systolic blood pressure than the placebo group in six weeks. Another study indicated that hibiscus tea had reduced diastolic and systolic blood pressure by 3.53mmHg and 7.58mmHg, respectively. Though hibiscus tea is generally safe and can be used by people with high blood pressure, it should not be consumed by those on hydrochlorothiazide; a certain medicine used for dilating blood vessels for people with high blood pressure. Hibiscus tea may react with this medicine causing more problems.
It Is Useful in Lowering Fat Blood Levels
Blood fat is a risk factor contributing to heart disease, and studies confirm that hibiscus tea can lower these fat levels. A study conducted on sixty people with diabetes gave black tea to one group, and another group was given hibiscus tea for one month. The result indicated that those who took hibiscus tea had increased HDL “good” cholesterol and reduced triglycerides and LDL “bad” cholesterol levels. Another related study on individuals with metabolic syndrome showed that daily consumption of 100mg of hibiscus extract resulted in reduced total cholesterol and improved HDL levels.
Nevertheless, some studies did not register any significant reduction in blood cholesterol levels when hibiscus tea is administered. Additionally, most of the studies that support the effectiveness of hibiscus tea in reducing cholesterol levels are done on people with diabetes or metabolic syndrome. It means that additional studies are needed to determine the full benefits of hibiscus in reducing fats in the blood.
It May Promote Liver Health
The liver is considered one of the most effective organs in keeping you alive by neutralizing toxins, secreting bile that breaks down fats, and producing proteins. Some studies have suggested that hibiscus tea can promote the health of your liver to keep it efficiently functional. One study on obese and overweight people showed reduced fat accumulation in the liver (liver steatosis) after consuming hibiscus extract for 12 weeks.
Another animal study done on hamsters showed decreased liver damage markers by producing them with hibiscus extracts. Additionally, another rat study also indicated that providing hibiscus extract to rats resulted in a 65% increase in the concentration of drug detoxifying enzymes in the liver. However, these experiments looked into the effectiveness of hibiscus extract and not hibiscus tea, prompting the need for further study on hibiscus tea.
It Could Result in Weight Loss.
Several studies show that tea can protect against obesity and weight gain. One such study gave its participants either a placebo or hibiscus tea for 12 weeks. The result showed that the hibiscus group had reduced body fat, body weight, hip-to-body ratio, and body mass index. Additionally, animal studies have also shown that administering hibiscus extract to obese mice for 60 days resulted in reduced body weight. However, the studies were conducted using high hibiscus concentration, meaning that more studies are required to determine how much hibiscus tea could result in weight loss.
It Has Anti-Cancer Compounds
The Hibiscus plant has been shown to have high amounts of polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant shown to possess anti-cancer properties. Some test-tube studies have found compelling evidence on the effectiveness of hibiscus extract in fighting cancer cells. One such study showed that hibiscus extract inhibited cancer cell growth, thus preventing plasma and mouth cell cancers. Furthermore, another study also reported that extract from hibiscus leaf limited the growth and the spread of prostate cancer cells. Another test-tube study also suggested that hibiscus extract can slow down the growth of stomach cancer by 52%. However, it would be best to remember that these test-tube studies used a highly concentrated hibiscus extract, and human studies are also needed to focus on hibiscus tea.
It Could Help in Fighting Bacteria
Bacterial infection can damage the body, causing various illnesses such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and urinary tract infections. Hibiscus has been found to have antibacterial properties for fighting bacteria infections. For example, one test-tube study showed that hibiscus extract prevented the activity of bacteria E. Coli, a bacterium that can cause diarrhea and gas in the abdominals. Another test-tube experiment suggested that extracts from hibiscus can fight against eight known bacteria effectively like any other over-the-counter medication. Nevertheless, no human studies have been published that looked into the antibacterial properties of hibiscus tea; therefore, there is no conclusive evidence to a certain whether hibiscus tea will have a similar result.
The Bottom Line
Hibiscus tea is a deep red herbal tea for boiling dried parts of the hibiscus plant and is deemed to have several health benefits. It tastes like cranberries, making it a flavoured tea that is easily made from home without processing. Several test-tube studies and some limited human studies have shown that hibiscus tea may be helpful in weight loss, improve liver and heart health, provide antibacterial properties, and help fight cancer.