Hibiscus used to be used in traditional folk medicine around the world for reducing blood pressure, specifically in Africa and Asia. It has now been recorded as being used in over 10 countries worldwide, with no reported side effects. In a culture where nearly 60% of the US population has to take medication, maybe it’s time we turned to more natural ways of managing our health. If that figure isn’t shocking enough, it is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that 1 in 3 adults in the United States suffers from high blood pressure.
How does hibiscus lower blood pressure?
Studies conducted in the last few years suggest that hibiscus lowers blood pressure due to a combination of reasons: it is packed full of nutrition, including antioxidants which we know are good for just about anything and it boosts the immune system. Furthermore, hibiscus opens the arteries and acts as a natural angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor- slowing the release of hormones that cause blood vessels to narrow and it is a diuretic.
Solid research supports claim that hibiscus lowers blood pressure
Until 2010, there was no solid research to support the Iranian’s claim that hibiscus really does lower blood pressure but since then several studies have been conducted. Several animal studies have concluded that hibiscus does reduce blood pressure in a dose dependent way. In randomized clinical trials, drinking hibiscus tea daily was shown to significantly reduce the systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure in adults with both type 2 diabetes and who had pre to moderate essential hypertension (high blood pressure).
Hibiscus as effective as leading prescription drugs
During the Premier Clinical Trial in Mexico, it was found that hibiscus is more effective in treating blood pressure than the leading hypertension drug Captopril. Simply having two cups of strong hibiscus tea (10g of crushed dried flowers) was just as effective as treating high blood pressure with 25mg of Captopril taken twice a day! After four weeks, scientists found that both the group taking the medication and the group taking hibiscus had an 11 percent drop in hypertension.
Which species and form of hibiscus?
With over 200 species of hibiscus growing around the world, it is important to know the type which is proven in lowering blood pressure. The flowers of the Hibiscus Sabariffa plant is usually the preferred type, specifically the calyxes[ The sepals of a flower, typically forming a whorl that encloses the petals and forms a protective layer around a flower in bud.]. But the fruit is also often used and the leaves are used on occasion. It is commonly made into a tea, but it is also extracted and used as a dessert garnish, a sour vegetable and in soups, sauces and jams. If you are not keen on the taste, it can also be made into the form of supplements which are also effective in lowering blood pressure. A study in which scientists gave 193 people Zestril, Lisinopril, Prinivil (10mg a day) or 250mg of hibiscus in a tablet form found after four weeks that hibiscus helped decrease blood pressure by 12 percent as opposed to 15 percent of those on the drugs.
These hibiscus plants can grow in most of the United States, so you can ditch your prescription drugs and actually grow your own natural alternative.