Health Benefits of Hibiscus


Hibiscus sabdariffa (scientific name) is also known as Karkadi, hibiscus, roselle, and other names. The hibiscus family, botanical name Malvaceae, hibiscus blooms, leaves, and seeds are all edible, although the calyx is the most commonly consumed portion. When a flower is still a bud, it is protected by sepals, which are leaf-like structures. The calyx, plural form calyces, is the collective name for the sepals. Hibiscus calyces become large, red, and juicy after the flowers die. They have a structure similar to rosehips, but their form is more pointed. Hibiscus is also known as roselle fruit.

Hibiscus plants provide us with more than just beautiful flowers to decorate our gardens. They are also consumed as food, particularly in the preparation of beverages. If you’ve ever had a reddish-coloured herbal tea, you’ve probably had hibiscus in it. Hibiscus is considered a medicinal plant in many cultures, and researchers are discovering that it may have some health benefits. Roselle is a tropical African plant that now flourishes in many tropical locations. Elegant red blossoms bloom on this annual plant. When the flowers (calyx and bract sections) are slightly immature, they are harvested. Jamaica and Mexico are the two main producers.

Hibiscus is not only beautiful, but it is also beneficial to your health. The consumption of this herb is rather widespread. If you drink tea, you’re probably familiar with it because it’s frequently included in the mix. Hibiscus is regarded as a medicinal plant in various areas because of its numerous health advantages.

Compounds and nutrients

Hibiscus has some carbs, calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and B vitamins, which change according to which stage of the plan you’re on. Although hibiscus tea is poor in nutrition, it nevertheless contains several useful components. In reality, it appears that these bioactive chemicals are principally responsible for the plant’s alleged health advantages.

Anthocyanins, pigments that give the blooms their bright red colour, are among them. Flavonoids, phenolic acids, and organic acids are also present. Many of these chemicals have antioxidant properties. It protects your body from reactive chemicals known as free radicals, which can cause oxidative stress or cellular damage. This is suspected to play a role in chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes mellitus, and cardiac disease.

The nutrients in the hibiscus are determined by numerous factors. The section of the plant that is used, the variety, the growth conditions, and many other factors are among them. The calyces are the most nutrient-dense portion of the hibiscus. Calcium, phosphorus, iron, niacin, vitamin C, and riboflavin were among the nutrients discovered.

Some people are also interested in the nutritional value per serving. When it comes to the nutrition of hibiscus-based foods, keep in mind that it differs according to the recipe. Teas do not contain any calories. This beverage is recognized to be nutritionally devoid. Sweetened teas, syrups, and sauces, on the other hand, contain calories as well as nourishment because they contain sugar and other substances.

Instead of putting hibiscus into drinks or dishes, the best way to benefit from it is to consume it in its natural state, even if most people don’t appear to enjoy it. According to the USDA, a cup of hibiscus has 28 calories, 5g of protein, 0g of fat, 6g of carbs, 0g of fibre, and 0g of sugar.

What is the purpose of Hibiscus?

Traditional and ethnobotanical applications:

  • In Africa and nearby tropical regions, the hibiscus has a long history of use. Sachets and fragrances have been made from its aromatic blossoms. This plant has been used to cure constipation in northern Nigeria. H. sabdariffa fibre has been used to make rope as a jute alternative.

  • The thick red calyx is used to make jams, jellies, as well as cold and hot beverages and refreshments. The leaves were prepared in the same way as spinach. The herb has been characterised as a diuretic and is commonly used in Egypt to treat heart and neurological problems.

  • Drinking sour tea for hypertension treatment is a common practice in Iran. It’s been used to treat cancer patients. There is little or no evidence that hibiscus has therapeutic properties.

  • In Africa, the mucilaginous leaves are used as a topical moisturiser. Hibiscus blooms are frequently seen in herbal tea blends in Western countries. People in Thailand drink roselle juice to satisfy their thirst. The nutritional and functional benefit of Karkade seed products (such as defatted flour, protein concentrate, and protein isolate) has been investigated.


  • Hibiscus beverages and supplements have been shown in human trials to lower blood pressure.

  • Drinking 2 cups (474 mL) of hibiscus tea every day for 1 month, combined with lifestyle and dietary adjustments, decreased blood pressure much more than lifestyle and dietary changes alone, according to a study of 46 persons with high blood pressure.

  • In other research, hibiscus extracts were found to be equally effective as pharmaceutical blood pressure drugs. More research, however, is required.

  • The effect of sour tea, which is sold commercially in Iran, on essential hypertension in otherwise healthy volunteers was studied in a randomised clinical trial. Blood pressure was found to be lower. However, after stopping drinking the sour tea, blood pressure began to rise. Although there were no negative side effects in this trial, the use of sour tea to treat hypertension deserves more research.


Hibiscus aqueous extracts appear to have a minor antibacterial action. In laboratory and animal trials, hibiscus extracts killed worms. There is little or no clinical data on the use of hibiscus as an antibiotic or vermifuge, according to research (kill worms).

Cancer and the effects of chemoprevention

  • Hibiscus contains antioxidant chemicals that may have anticancer effects.

  • Hibiscus extract appears to inhibit enzymes involved in prostate cancer development and cause breast cancer and melanoma cells to die in test tubes.

  • Hibiscus may even help chemotherapy treatments work better on breast cancer cells.

  • However, most of the research on hibiscus’ significance in cancer treatment is limited to test-tube experiments. To understand more, large-scale human trials are required.

  • In laboratory and animal research, hibiscus components have shown promise as a chemopreventive drug against tumour promotion.

  • Anti-inflammatory effects are also present in these ingredients. There is little or no clinical data on the use of hibiscus as a chemopreventive agent, according to research.

Effects on obesity and as laxatives

  • Hibiscus may aid in weight loss and obesity prevention.

  • Hibiscus extracts have been shown in animal studies to help reduce fat cell accumulation. This may help to prevent obesity-related problems like fatty liver and insulin resistance.

  • Certain hibiscus preparations contain fibre that may aid in weight loss.

  • Ground hibiscus was observed to lower body weight, body fat, and pro-inflammatory chemicals in adipose tissue in rats in one study.

  • Human research is still needed to properly understand hibiscus’ potential anti-obesity properties.

  • As a mild laxative, the plant has been utilised. While animal studies demonstrate that hibiscus has a modest cathartic effect, there is little or no human clinical data on its usage as a laxative.

Metabolic disorder

  • High blood sugar, high blood triglycerides, low HDL (good) cholesterol, and excess body fat are all risk factors for metabolic syndrome. These variables can raise your chances of getting cardiac disease or diabetes.

  • Hibiscus could potentially aid in the treatment of metabolic syndrome or degenerative disease.

  • Drinking hibiscus tea twice daily for 21 days significantly decreased blood pressure, blood triglycerides, and fasting blood sugar in 16 older women with metabolic syndrome, according to small research.

  • In a separate trial, 40 adults with metabolic syndrome who took hibiscus powder once a day for four weeks saw substantial reductions in blood lipids and systolic blood pressure when compared to a placebo group.

  • Overall, hibiscus may aid in the management of metabolic syndrome symptoms, particularly blood sugar concerns, though additional research is needed.

Liver disease

  • Hibiscus may also help to protect your liver against the effects of obesity, diabetes, and some drugs.

  • In mice with diabetes and obesity, the colourful anthocyanins in the hibiscus were found to enhance liver antioxidant enzymes, protect against oxidative stress, and decrease liver fat storage.

  • In previous animal experiments, hibiscus extracts have been shown to protect against liver toxicity caused by chemotherapy medicines.

  • Keep in mind, however, that human research on hibiscus’ effects on the liver is limited. It’s uncertain whether hibiscus benefits humans in the same way as it does animals.

Side effects

  • Hibiscus products do not have regulated doses.

  • In reasonable amounts, hibiscus tea is generally regarded as harmless. Other preparations, such as extracts, capsules, and powders, are unknown in terms of their safety.

  • According to certain studies, taking high amounts of hibiscus extract for a long time can cause liver damage. Certain drugs may interact with hibiscus.

  • Due to a lack of information on the plant’s safety in these populations, pregnant or nursing women should avoid drinking hibiscus tea or taking hibiscus supplements.

  • Furthermore, hibiscus has been demonstrated to lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. As a result, persons with high blood pressure or diabetes who are taking drugs should consult a doctor before doing it.

  • Keep in mind, however, that human research on hibiscus’ effects on the liver is limited. It’s uncertain whether hibiscus benefits humans in the same way as it does animals.

  • In addition drug interaction occurs, hibiscus tea may help to speed up the clearance or decrease the absorption of certain drugs like Chloroquine or Voltaren.

Hibiscus is a type of herb that has a variety of health advantages. It also has a delightful, tangy flavour and can be prepared and consumed right in your own home. According to animal and test-tube research, hibiscus can help with weight loss, heart and liver health, and even fight cancer and infections. The majority of current research, however, is limited to test-tube and animal experiments utilising high doses of hibiscus extract. More research is needed to see if these benefits extend to people who consume hibiscus.

Varsha M,
Specialist Dietitian, Simplyweight

The London Obesity & Endocrine Clinic specialises in Weight Loss and Endocrine disorders at the Specialist Weight Loss Centre in Chennai, India. We offer face to face and virtual consultations with our specialist clinical lead, Dr Rajeswaran, who has 25+ years experience in this field. We support people with Obesity related medical conditions including Type 2 Diabetes, Fatty Liver, Infertility, Erectile Dysfunction, and Endocrine disorders like Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, PCOS, Hirsutism, Adrenal Dysfunction, Menopause, Pituitary problems and Sexual Dysfunction. Our services predominantly cover major cities in India including New Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and PuneWe also offer aesthetic treatments, metabolic master health checkups, bespoke weight management plans and an unique online weight loss plan for wellness and weight management. Get in touch to transform your life!

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