Wellness Wisdom: Hibiscus

Michelle Clay

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.”
 ~ Luther Burbank

Hibiscus is the official state flower of Hawaii; in Hawaiian culture, Hibiscus is a symbol of old royalty & communicates power and respect. 

The rich, dark red beverage known as hibiscus tea is enjoyed by many around the world. It is known by different names in different parts of the world: sorrel, bissap, roselle, red tea, and hibiscus just to name a few.

Many people have the beautiful red hibiscus shrub adorning their yards, but did you know hibiscus also has medicinal benefits? The flower used in teas or that you may see dried in markets is from the species Hibiscus sabdariffa, a shrub that is thought to be native to Africa.

 It has yellow flowers with a red center, and should not be confused with Hibiscus ascetosella, the species of hibiscus that has red flowers. Hibiscus ascetosella is NOT used for medicinal purposes, while Hibiscus sabdariffa is used for a variety of ailments.

Traditional uses:

Originally from Angola, hibiscus is now cultivated throughout tropical and subtropical regions, especially in Sudan, Egypt, Thailand, Mexico, and China.

• In Egypt and Sudan, hibiscus is used to help maintain a normal body temperature, support heart health, and encourage fluid balance.

While traveling in Egypt in the middle of July, the hottest month of year with temperatures typically between 105 – 110 daily, we often refreshed and cooled ourselves with warm or cool hibiscus tea.
• North Africans have used hibiscus internally for supporting upper respiratory health including the throat and also use it topically to support skin health 
• In Europe, hibiscus has been employed to support upper respiratory health, alleviate occasional constipation, and promote proper circulation.
• Hibiscus is traditionally used for supporting normal blood pressure maintenance in Iran — a use that has been validated in several recent studies.

Two clinical trials have shown that hibiscus can lower blood pressure and suggest that hibiscus tea may be as potent as some blood pressure medications.

In another trial 10 grams of Hibiscus sabdariffa tea was compared to the drug captopril, an anti-hypertensive medication in the class of drugs called ACE inhibitors, for four weeks in people with high blood pressure. Blood pressures fell an equal amount in both groups, suggesting this herbal tea may be as potent as some blood pressure medications. (Phytomedicine 2004;11(5):375-82.)


Wellness Wisdom Pearl

On a personal note, my father who has been diagnosed with diabetes for over 20 years, recently had issues with increased blood pressure. His primary care physician prescribed a blood pressure medication in the class of drugs called a beta-blocker. My father took the time to read the entire package insert listing all side effects and drug interactions. Once finished he said, “There is no way I want to take this. It said once I start, I will have to take it for the rest of my life. I don’t want to do that.” He was in a conundrum, either take the medication for the rest of his life and bring his blood pressure down, or leave it be and not pass his physical to continue driving his 18 wheeler truck; his life, joy and livelihood for over 25 years. He called me and asked what he should do. My answer to him was the same I give to all of my clients, “What is your body and your spirit telling you?”

He wanted to try the natural route. I told him not to worry, I would put together a special formulation for him. This special herbal formulation contained primarily hibiscus with other herbs that were beneficial for him. He drank the tea twice per day per my instructions and something magical happened. He actually incorporated a majority plant-based diet, drank apple cider vinegar, warm lemon water and beet juice.! Things I had been telling him over the years to do to increase his level of wellness and his response was always, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” I thought he wasn’t listening, but I had planted a seed and was now seeing the plant grow and bear fruit. 2 ½ weeks later, he passed his DOT physical with flying colors and returned to his primary care physician who noted a 11 point decrease in his diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure. I am very proud of my Daddy; he awakened his physician within and showed himself what his body is truly capable of.
If you believe and open your mind to the possibility that you have a physician within, you can take steps to healing yourself; flowers and plants truly are food and medicine for the body and soul.


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