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Hibiscus Tea 101: Health Benefits, Side Effects and Recipes

by Vanessa Goodpaster-Beaty on February 18, 2013

Hibiscus tea servedHibiscus tea has been gaining a lot of popularity over the past few years. Those looking to try more natural methods of healing certain diseases and illnesses have begun drinking this tea for is numerous health benefits. The plant grows in tropical areas and produces stunning red flowers. These flowers have been used for centuries for their medicinal purposes. Hibiscus tea can be enjoyed cold or hot and with many different ingredients for a unique taste. Before we look at different ways of preparing the tea however, you may be wondering just what health benefits the hibiscus plant offers. Take a look at the many

Hibiscus tea health benefits and conditions it treats naturally.

1. High Cholesterol

Studies have shown that hibiscus tea is very effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels. It contains bioflavonoids that help to prevent plaque from building up on the walls of your arteries which lowers your cholesterol and helps to prevent a number of other serious diseases.

2. High Blood Pressure

Much research has been done on the effects of hibiscus tea in those with high blood pressure. Drinking just 8 ounces 3 times each day will seriously help you to keep your blood pressure under control. Some studies suggest that hibiscus tea works better than most high blood pressure medications and because it is natural, there are fewer noted side effects than prescription medication. You can effectively lower your blood pressure by at least 10 points if you drink it 3 times daily for just a couple of weeks.

3. The Common Cold

This tea is literally swimming with lots of Vitamin C which will help you to prevent the common cold, flu and other infectious illnesses. If you drink it when you feel the symptoms of a cold coming on, it will help you to get over your cold much more quickly and it has been shown to be very effective in helping open wounds to heal up to twice as quickly.

4. Aging

Imagine not having to spend a small fortune on anti-aging creams and potions. Hibiscus tea has been used for centuries in places like Egypt, China and others to prevent aging. It contains many antioxidants which eliminate the free radicals that are in your body. By eliminating these free radicals, it can effectively slow down the aging process and many studies show that it can actually prolong your life.

5. Weight Loss


Hibiscus is a natural appetite suppressant. It can help you to lose weight without worrying about taking diet pills or having surgery to shrink your stomach. Just drinking a cup each day will help you to eat less and we all know that eating less is what causes weight loss. The tea also affects how your body will absorb and store carbohydrates and fat. It slows down fat absorption so you are burning more fat as opposed to storing it. It also provides a mild diuretic which helps to flush impurities from your system so you will not have water weight or bloating and it provides a mild laxative effect to keep your system clean.

6. Digestive Problems

So, speaking of laxatives, if you regularly suffer from constipation, drinking hibiscus tea can help you to become more regular. It improves the overall function of the bowels as well as the bladder. It contains natural anti-spasmodic effects so you can use it to treat painful constipation as well as other digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome.

7. Depression

Those who suffer from mood swings and depression will find that drinking just one 8 ounce serving of hibiscus tea each day will significantly improve those moods. It provides a number of vitamins and minerals that offer a calming effect on the nervous system. It has been used for centuries to treat anxiety and other mental related symptoms.

8. Cancer

Recent studies have shown that hibiscus tea can prevent pre-cancerous cells from growing. This means that it can effectively stop the growth of cells that will eventually cause cancer. Again, it is filled with antioxidants so it can prove very beneficial in helping you to prevent cancer because it kills free radicals in the body.

9. Heart Disease

Studies done by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute showed that people who drink at least 14 cups or more every week of tea have the lowest mortality rates in the first few years after a heart attack. Hibiscus tea is widely used to help lower the risk of heart attack and other heart diseases and can help to decrease symptoms.

10. Diabetes and Liver Disease

Hibiscus tea is used in India to treat both types of diabetes and has shown amazing results. It is also used widely in Eastern medicine as a treatment for many types of liver disease. Because it keeps the body clean from free radicals and offers antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals, it can help to clean the liver. Studies done on mice showed that drinking the tea can prevent liver damage that could be incurred by taking too much acetaminophen or Tylenol as well as other pain killers that can cause liver damage.

So, there you have a list of great benefits from drinking hibiscus tea. Of course, nothing is without its disadvantages and even though this is one of the healthiest teas in the World, it is not without its own side effects. Here are a few side effects that you should watch out for:

Hibiscus tea side effects

• Lower Hormone Levels

Hibiscus tea is absolutely not recommended for pregnant women or those who are undergoing fertility treatments. It can lower levels of estrogen in the body and can prompt menstruation which could ultimately lead to a miscarriage. Those in their first trimester especially should avoid drinking this tea. Also, any woman undergoing any type of hormone replacement, and this includes taking birth control pills, should also avoid hibiscus tea. Studies have also shown that it can decrease male fertility in some instances.

• Lower Blood Pressure

Lowering blood pressure can be considered a benefit or a side effect. Those who already have low blood pressure certainly do not need to drink hibiscus tea because it can lower that pressure even more. Those with hypotension should avoid drinking it unless first checking with their doctor to ensure that their blood pressure is not dangerously low.

• Drowsiness

Many people have reported feeling a bit drowsy after drinking hibiscus tea. Of course, it does help you to relax and fall asleep so this is not a major side effect. However, if you are planning to drive a car or operate heavy machinery, you should avoid drinking the tea until you are safely at home.

• Hallucinations

Not everyone who has ever drank this tea has seen polka dotted elephants and flying cars but a few have experience mild hallucinogenic effects. Again, until you know how the tea affects you it is best that you do not operate a motor vehicle or any other machinery.

*Please note that the side effects and health benefits listed are for red hibiscus. There are literally more than 200 different types of hibiscus and most of the effects of other types are not known. Make sure that you are drinking tea made from red hibiscus.

• Medical Interactions

There are a few medicines that may react differently when you drink hibiscus tea. The properties linked to pain management or analgesics may increase the effect of other medicines for pain which could in turn heighten the side effects of those medicines. If you are taking pain medications, check with your doctor before adding hibiscus tea to your daily routine. Drugs taken for the central nervous system like anti-depressants, anticonvulsants and sedatives may also react when combined with hibiscus tea. Those who are taking cancer medication should avoid the tea as well because it could potentially reverse the effects of that medication.

Hibiscus Tea Recipes

If you are ready to try hibiscus tea, you may wonder how to prepare it. We have compiled a few tasty recipes that will get you on your way.

Regular Hibiscus Tea Recipe

Delicious hibiscus tea

Ingredients:

  • dried hibiscus flowers – You need around 3 or 4 of these
  • 8 ounces water – this should be boiling
  • sugar or honey – sugar is optional and is per your preferences

Directions

Simply place the hibiscus blossoms in your tea cup and cover them with boiling water.

Allow this to seep for about 5 minutes and add the desired amount of sugar.

You can also add a mint sprig, lemon slice or anything else that you want and enjoy.

Jamaican Hibiscus Tea Recipe

Jamaican hibiscus tea

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried hibiscus
  • 8 quarts water
  • 1 cup sugar – You can change the amount of sugar if you want
  • ½ cinnamon stick – Or use a teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Ginger – Just a pinch

Directions

Add the sugar and 4 cups of water to a medium saucepan along with the cinnamon and ginger. Heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture boils. Remove and stir in the dried flowers. Let it sit covered for about 20 minutes. Strain the tea into a pitcher and add the remaining water and chill. You can add lime juice, orange slices or virtually anything else you want for flavor. Serve over ice.

Mint Hibiscus Iced Tea

Mint Hibiscus iced tea

Ingredients

  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 4 hibiscus tea bags
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • ½ cup mint leaves

Directions

Steep the tea bags and mint leaves in 4 cups of boiling water for about 10 minutes or until it is the strength that you want. Add the cold water and apple juice and refrigerate. Serve chilled.


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