Hibiscus, also known as shoeblack plant, rose of Sharon, China rose, Bengal rose and rose mallow is a popular plant due to its multiple medicinal benefits. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and Hibiscus sabdariffa (roselle) varieties are the most popular which are commonly identified by their red colours.
The most common forms of hibiscus used are hibiscus tea made from its flower and leaves, hibiscus oil, hibiscus paste and hibiscus powder. It can also be converted into jams, sauces or soups and used as culinary ingredients.
Health Benefits Of Hibiscus
1. Treatment of diabetes– Hibiscus rosa sinensis has anti-diabetic effects and can help lower blood sugar in both healthy adults and diabetics. Another study showed that the hibiscus can inhibit the absorption of carbohydrates in the intestine. Compared to non-diabetic pregnant women, Hibiscus can cause positive impacts on diabetic pregnant women and their offspring. This may be due to the presence of phenolic compounds and flavonoids in hibiscus which have anti-diabetic effects.
2. Slows down the progression of breast and skin cancer – According to a study, hibiscus extract combined with chemotherapy, can significantly induce apoptosis against breast cancer cells and prevent its progression. Hibiscus flowers contain polyphenols which not only prevent the growth of cancerous cells but also prevents their growth in people already with melanoma. In addition, hibiscus can help reduce the chemotherapy doses and related toxicity during the treatment by reducing oxidative stress.
3. Manages high blood pressure– Consumption of hibiscus daily can help lower the systolic and diastolic blood pressure in people with mild to moderate hypertension. Hibiscus anthocyanin is in abundance and is generally responsible for their antihypertensive activity.
4. Cures cold– Hibiscus can bring instant relief from cough and cold when consumed as a tea prepared from its flower and leaves. It can also act as a great tonic for other respiratory problems such as sore throat and mild headache.
5. Helps with obesity– Plant polyphenols, especially anthocyanins and other polyphenols in hibiscus may have the capability to reduce the oxidative stress and inflammatory markers in the body thus, reversing the genetic changes that cause obesity.
6. Good for heart- Hibiscus is believed to contain polyphenols that are good for the heart. It can help treat various heart conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
7. Good for reproductive system– Studies have shown that hibiscus can help regulate the menstrual cycle and treat dysmenorrhea (severe menstrual cramps and pain) in women. The flower can also help treat women infertility.
8. Treats constipation– Hibiscus is known to have spasmogenic and spasmolytic compounds that can help treat constipation and other gastrointestinal disorders. These properties can safely promote the contraction of smooth muscles and help release the stool.
9. Good for skin and hair– Hibiscus, especially its leaves, acts as an excellent skin cleanser. Rubbing hibiscus leaves on the face and neck can help remove dead skin cells, blackheads and whiteheads, leaving the skin soft and smooth. The anti-inflammatory properties of hibiscus can also help treat skin problems like acne and dry skin. Studies have shown that paste made of crushed hibiscus leaves and petals can be used as a natural hair conditioner.
10. Helps in wound healing– After application, Hibiscus may help increase the cell growth and collagen synthesis at the wound site and promote fast healing of wounds, along with increasing their closure rate and tensile strength. Hibiscus may also help reduce the wound marks and pain.
Hibiscus is considered a herbal medicine because it is suitable for various traditional remedies and folk medicines. We know that herbs are dose-dependent and should be taken or applied in a proper way to minimise any kind of side effects, so it is always good to consult a medical professional before its use.