Hibiscus

In the Victoria language of flowers, hibiscus symbolizes “Delicate Beauty.” So,  if you want to tell someone you think they are delicately beautiful (like my lovely daughter in this photo) give her a hibiscus plant.

Hibiscus flowers come in many colors, but it is the dark pink or deep magenta flower of the Hibiscus sabdariffa that is used for tea. That’s right, I said tea. These flowers are more than simply a plant to adorn your patio. Tea made from hibiscus petals is refreshing and healthful! Here’s the recipe I use: Hibiscus Tea

When my husband and I traveled to Costa Rica a few years ago, this attractive red tea was served at our first small hotel/coffee plantation, Finca Rosa Blanca (which I highly recommend).

I’m not a big iced tea drinker, but I found myself craving it every afternoon. I asked the waiters what is was, but I couldn’t understand them. So, upon our departure they gifted me with a bag of Rosa de Jamaica. After an online search I learned that it was hibiscus. These dark pink flowers are found throughout Central America and the Caribbean, including Jamaica, hence the name.

Hibiscus tea is used in warm climates as a cooling herb and to treat fevers and inflammation. It’s traditionally used for respiratory problems, fluid balance, skin health, constipation, restlessness, and sleeplessness.

A 2007 study found that drinking hibiscus tea was comparable to the drug, Lisinopril, in lowering blood pressure, but with no side effects. Another study on type-2 diabetics also showed a decrease in blood pressure. The dose was 3 cups a day for 6 weeks.

Hibiscus contains even higher levels of antioxidants than green tea! Now that’s good news to me because I’m still not a big fan of green tea. This tasty flower is also packed with manganese, iron, and other minerals and flavonoids, plus it’s high in vitamin C, A, and thiamine.

It appears that hibiscus might lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, increase HDL levels, and increase the removal of uric acid (good for those with gout). It has been shown to kill cancer cells in a petri dish, so further research is recommended.

In the meantime, hibiscus is considered to be safe and gentle. It tastes great, and is a low calorie beverage that can help with weight loss, too. So, drink up! (By the way, the tea is quite tart. You can steep it along with some stevia leaves to sweeten it without calories.)

Copyright © by Bobbi Mullins, originally published June 1, 2015

References:

Shaudys, P. Herbal Treasures. 1990. Garden Way Publishing. Vermont.
http://www.gaiaherbs.com/articles/detail/42/The-Surprising-Health-Benefits-of-Hibiscus
http://nutritionfacts.org/2012/01/08/hibiscus-tea-flower-power/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hibiscus_tea
http://www.livestrong.com/article/329717-rosehip-and-hibiscus-tea-benefits/
http://www.livestrong.com/article/68832-benefits-hibiscus-tea-weight-loss/

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