Hibiscus is safe and, unlike most blood pressure drugs, rarely causes side effects.
Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa), also known as Roselle, has been used to treat high blood pressure in both African and Asian traditional medicine.
In 1996, researchers in Nigeria confirmed this age-old wisdom by showing that a tea made from hibiscus flowers reduced blood pressure in laboratory animals. Soon after, researchers in Iran showed the same benefit in people. After measuring the blood pressure of 54 hypertensive adults, the researchers gave them 10 ounces of either black tea or hibiscus tea for 12 days. Average blood pressure decreased slightly in the black tea group, but decreased a significant 10 percent in the hibiscus group.
Since then, several additional studies have confirmed this effect, including two that tested hibiscus head-to-head against standard blood pressure medications:
- Scientists in Mexico gave 75 hypertensive adults either captopril (Capoten; 25 milligrams twice a day) or hibiscus tea (brewed from 10 grams of crushed dried flowers — about 5 teaspoons per 1 to 2 cups water — once a day). After four weeks, the herb had worked as well as the drug, with both groups showing an 11 percent drop in blood pressure.
- In another study, the same researchers gave 193 people either lisinopril, (Zestril, Prinivil; 10 milligrams per day) or hibiscus (250 milligrams in the form of a capsule). After four weeks, the herb had worked almost as well as the drug: Blood pressure decreased 15 percent among those on the drug, and 12 percent among those taking hibiscus.
How does hibiscus lower blood pressure?
Recent research suggests a combination of reasons:
- it has diuretic properties
- it opens the arteries, and
- it acts as a natural angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, which means it slows the release of hormones that constrict blood vessels.
In addition, hibiscus boosts immune function and provides valuable antioxidants.
How to make hibiscus tea
Steep from 1 to 5 teaspoons of of dried “flowers” (technically, the calyxes surrounding the flowers) per cup in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes.
Which dose is right for you?
If you have high blood pressure, you should own a digital home blood pressure monitor. Take your blood pressure readings before different doses and retest an hour later to see what works best for you.
The scientific studies have shown that drinkung 3 cups of hibiscus tea a day can reduce hypertension.
Check with your doctor prior to taking hibiscus if you’re currently on medication to lower blood pressure, as often a combination of an herb and a lower dose of a pharmaceutical provides the same benefit as a higher dose of the pharmaceutical product.
How to get the most benefit from hibiscus tea
It would be easy to believe that just drinking three cups of hibiscus tea each day will return your blood pressure to within the normal range. Effective as hibiscus is in lowering high blood pressure, it is most beneficial when taken as part of a healthy balanced diet – especially a diet designed to help reduce hypertension- such as the DASH diet – and regular exercise. There is more information about diet for hypertensives in the the High Blood Pressure Remedy Report.