When my daughter lived in Egypt she would bring me hibiscus flowers. I have always been fascinated by the deep red color of the infusion and wanted to know more about its benefits.
Hibiscus is traditionally used in a number of countries like India, Egypt, Iran, Africa and certain countries of south America.
In Egypt and other subtropical and tropical parts of the world the infusion of hibiscus flowers is taken all through the day to stay “cool”. It refreshes the body and keeps it at a pleasant temperature even if you drink it hot.
It’s also used to support the cardiovascular and circulatory system, to calm digestive spasms, against constipation and to ease a sore throat.
More and more scientific studies confirm it’s effect on blood pressure and cholesterol.
Doctor Diane Mc Kay conducted a study where the subjects drank 3 cups of hibiscus infusion per day for 6 weeks. Their blood pressure went down similarly to the way it would have gone down with an anti hypertensive medication. They observed no side effects with the infusion.
Hibiscus is very rich in anti oxidants. The anthocyanines in hibiscus induced cell death (apoptosis) in human leukemia cells.
A study in 2010 analyzed the effects of an hibiscus extract added to a marinade brushed on meat before frying.
They studied the formation of carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAA) on the crust of fried meat. They found that the marinade containing the extract inhibited their development to a significant degree.
Studies have also shown that red wine and rosemary have a similar effect on these compounds.
Other herbs and spices probably have the same effect.
It’s the season for outdoor grilling and in traditional Chinese medicine grilling is a recommended method of cooking for the summer!
Before grilling your meat, poultry or fish, “treat” them with your personal marinade and add hibiscus flower powder.
A very recent in vitro study that came out in June 2016, showed that hibiscus has a very strong anti viral effect against strains of avian influenza virus. To their knowledge no other study on plants has shown this degree of effectiveness against the influenza virus.
The researchers concluded that “hibiscus may be a promising candidate as a potent anti-influenza drug, irrespective of subtype.”
Other studies have shown that hibiscus can reduce obesity and abdominal fat, improve metabolism (hence the capacity to burn fat), metabolic syndrome and fatty infiltration of the liver.
This last condition is more and more common today even in the absence of any alcohol consumption.
A promising future
The infusion of this lovely flower, traditionally and widely consumed in many countries around the world for all it’s health benefits, has a beautiful “scientific” future.
Recently more and more studies have been published. Just a couple of years ago there were very few.
Imagine reducing your blood pressure with 3 cups of hibiscus per day without having to take a medication that could give you headaches, swelling in the legs, cramps, decreased libido, hypotension, gout, cold hands and feet, fatigue, vertigo…
Protect yourself this winter against the flu virus and probably many more. Science will tell.
If you want to get rid of body fat, blood lipids or a fatty liver, hibiscus may just be able to assist.
Hibiscus is a very safe herb. In Nigeria they drink up to 25 cups a day with no known toxic effect.
Drink to your heart's delight!
Summer in Chinese medicine is the season of the heart.
Red is it’s associated color and hibiscus fits the bill!
You can prepare an infusion in 2 ways. Let the flowers steep in cold water over night and strain the next morning.
Or you can use the more traditional way by infusing in hot water, let steep for 15 minutes and strain.