Hibiscus tea is made from Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) a subtropical and tropical flowering plant.
Hibiscus also is known as karkade, red tea, red sorrel, Jamaica sorrel, rosella, soborodo (Zobo drink), Karkadi, roselle, and sour tea.
Its flowers are used for medicinal purpose, making edible products and flavoring herbal beverages.
Consuming hibiscus tea has some health benefits which include relief from high blood pressure and high cholesterol concentration, weight loss, boosting the immune system by providing vitamin C and antioxidants, reducing the intensity of hot flashes and solving dandruff and acne problems.
Hibiscus tea is prepared by boiling parts of the hibiscus plant particularly the flower.
Hibiscus tea (zobo drink) is a very popular drink throughout the world and is often used as a medicinal tea. However, hibiscus flowers have various local names, and it might be called by its other rather common name, “Roselle” (1).
Health Benefits of Hibiscus Tea
Hibiscus tea is a health enhancer and a natural weight loss booster.
Discover the health benefits of this drink below before we talk about the side effects that may occur as a result of drinking hibiscus tea or as we call it “Zobo” here in Nigeria.
1. Lowering Cholesterol
The antioxidant properties in hibiscus tea are also thought to benefit people with high cholesterol.
It helps to lower levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol from the body, thereby helping to protect against heart disease and protecting blood vessels from damage (2)
The hypolipidemic and hypoglycemic properties of hibiscus tea can be beneficial for those who suffer from blood sugar disorders like diabetes.
A research study conducted on patients with type II diabetes suggests that consumption of hibiscus sour tea lowers cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (3).
2. Blood Pressure Management
Scientific studies suggest that daily hibiscus tea consumption may benefit people with slightly increased blood pressure (4).
Studies have also found that hibiscus tea can lower blood pressure in type 2 diabetics.
A report from the AHA (American Heart Association) that was published in November of 2008 states that consuming hibiscus tea lowers the blood pressure in pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults (5).
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, hibiscus tea can reduce blood pressure by up to 10 points, according to research done at Tufts University in Boston.
Also, hibiscus tea has diuretic properties that increase urination, simultaneously lowering blood pressure.
3. Liver Protection
The antioxidant properties of hibiscus tea according to report may also help in treating liver disease (6).
Antioxidants help to protect the body from diseases by mopping up free radicals present in body tissues and cells.
4. Anti-Cancer Properties
The hibiscus protocatechuic acid found in hibiscus tea has strong antioxidant and anti-tumor properties.
A study conducted by the Department and Institute of Biochemistry at the Chung Shan Medical and Dental College, in Taichung, Taiwan suggests that hibiscus slows down the growth of cancerous cells by inducing apoptosis, commonly known as programmed cell death (7).
5. Weight Loss
Hibiscus tea may also be a useful component to a weight loss program (8).
Hibiscus tea is low-in-calories, and it is a diuretic herb that helps flush toxins and excess fluids in the body.
Research studies have suggested that hibiscus extract lowers the absorption of starch and glucose and may help with weight loss.
Hibiscus inhibits the production of amylase, which helps in the absorption of carbohydrates and starch, so drinking hibiscus tea prevents that absorption from occurring. Therefore, hibiscus tea is found in many weight loss products.
Furthermore, a 2010 review suggests that herbal teas like hibiscus tea can help support weight loss by increasing the intake of fluids.
6. Improves Digestion
Hibiscus tea is also considered a valuable digestive aid, and it is thought to improve bowel and bladder function.
Since it has diuretic properties, it is also used to treat constipation, which helps in weight loss, and improves the health and strength of the gastrointestinal system and avoid colorectal cancer.
The anti-spasmodic effect of hibiscus tea is considered useful for symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
7. Boost Immune System
Hibiscus tea has a high vitamin C quotient which is considered a great immune system booster, and it can help prevent colds and the flu.
Hibiscus tea is also known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties (8). Because of these properties, it has the ability to lower body temperature, and therefore hibiscus tea benefits people with a fever as well.
8. Relieves Anxiety and Depression
Hibiscus tea contains vitamins and minerals like flavonoids (anthocyanins and anthocyanidins) which have antidepressant properties (9).
Consumption of hibiscus tea can help to calm down the nervous system.
This helps put people into a positive mind frame to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety by creating a relaxed sensation in the body and mind.
9. Helps Improve Skin Conditions
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in hibiscus tea such as vitamin C and A can effectively treat acne, scars, sunburns, eczema, and skin allergies.
10. It Satiates Thirst
Hibiscus tea is also used in the same way as sports drinks in order to satiate thirst. For this purpose, an iced form of hibiscus tea is typically consumed.
Many people include it in their diet since this variety of the tea has the ability to cool down the body very fast.
Also, it is rich in medicinal properties, like being a diuretic, which flushes out excess fluids and toxins from the body.
11. Zobo Soothes Menstrual Pain
The health benefits of hibiscus tea also include relief from cramps and menstrual pain.
It helps in restoring hormone balance as well, which can reduce other symptoms of menstruation like mood swings, depression, and overeating.
Possible Side Effect of Hibiscus Tea (Zobo)
Despite the benefits, hibiscus tea may have hazardous side effects. There are some possible side effects you should wary about, we listed them below:
1. Blood Pressure
The health benefits of hibiscus tea include lowering blood pressure (anti-hypertensive property). Therefore, it is not recommended for people that already have low blood pressure, a condition called hypotension.
According to the Bastyr Center for Natural Health at the University of Pennsylvania, hibiscus tea may open and expand your blood vessels, which may increase your risk for heart disease.
Drinking hibiscus tea daily may drop your systolic blood pressure by 7.2 points on average.
Avoid drinking hibiscus tea if you are taking medication for hypertension and low blood pressure
It may cause faintness, dizziness and can even damage the heart or brain if it is consumed by an individual with low blood pressure.
2. Pregnancy and Fertility
Research conducted at the Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology in India on pregnancy and fertility showed that hibiscus tea has estrogenic qualities.
Expectant mothers should avoid hibiscus tea, particularly due to its emmenagogue effects which may stimulate menstruation or blood flow in the uterus or pelvic region (10).
Excess hibiscus interferes with female fertility and childbearing. It reduces the level of estrogen, especially in women.
Hibiscus tea contains polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are associated with cancer and birth defects.
For those undergoing hormonal treatments or taking birth control pills, it is recommended to consult your health specialist regarding any consumption of hibiscus tea and let him give you a yes or no.
3. Hallucinatory Effect
A sense of feeling intoxicated and hallucination are common side effects of hibiscus tea. The tea has can impair your focus and concentration.
When engaging in activities that demand full alertness such as operating machinery or driving, avoid drinking hibiscus tea.
4. Risk of Drug interaction
Hibiscus can interact with some medications. It has anticancer effects when taken with other anticancer agents and an additive effect when taken with antiviral agents.
It decreases the antimalarial efficacy of drugs such as chloroquine and quinine and alters some inflammatory agents processed by your body such as acetaminophen.
If you are taking anti-inflammatory drugs, wait for at least two hours to consume hibiscus tea to avoid adverse side effects.
Word of Caution
While Hibiscus tea may be hugely beneficial to the health, it is advisable to seek medical advice from a trained medical professional if you see any sign of allergy.
Take this tea in moderation not in obsession.