Did You Know…that this pleasant herbal tea might lower your blood pressure as effectively as drugs?
That’s right, it’s true: Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) has long been used to treat high blood pressure in both African and Asian traditional medicine… and now scientific studies show it can lower blood pressure as effectively as some standard medications for high blood pressure (medically known as hypertension).
Since hibiscus also boosts immune function and provides valuable antioxidants, this is a natural remedy that can benefit anyone.
“Red Zinger” Zaps Hypertension
Hibiscus tea is already a popular beverage around the world, and is the main ingredient in Red Zinger tea. Hibiscus tea is ruby-colored, lemony, and pleasant tasting—which is part of why it enjoys such global popularity.
Even better, hibiscus is very safe and rarely causes any side effects, which simply cannot be said for most blood pressure drugs.
The Science Behind Hibiscus
A growing body of scientific evidence now supports the benefits of hibiscus flower for blood pressure. One of the earliest studies was conducted by Nigerian researchers in 1996, showing that hibiscus lowered blood pressure in animals.
Iranian researchers soon showed the same benefit in people. For that study, researchers took baseline measurements of blood pressure of 54 adults already diagnosed with hypertension. Those subjects were divided into two groups and given either 10 ounces of black tea or hibiscus tea for 12 days. Average blood pressure decreased slightly with black tea, but dropped a significant 10% with hibiscus!
Since then, many studies have replicated these findings, including two that tested hibiscus against drugs:
Scientists in Mexico gave 75 hypertensive adults either captopril (Capoten; 25 milligrams twice a day) or hibiscus tea (brewed from 10 grams of crushed dried flowers — about 5 teaspoons per 1 to 2 cups water — once a day). After 4 weeks, the herb had worked as well as the drug, with both groups showing an 11% drop in blood pressure.
The same researchers conducted another study in which they gave 193 people either lisinopril, (Zestril, Prinivil; 10 milligrams per day) or hibiscus (250 milligrams in the form of a capsule). After four weeks, the herb had worked almost as well as the drug: Blood pressure decreased 15% among those on the drug, and 12% among those taking hibiscus.
Scientists theorize that hibiscus may lower blood pressure through a variety of mechanisms:
- It has diuretic properties
- It opens the arteries
- It appears to act as a natural angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, which means it slows the release of hormones that constrict blood vessels
Dose recommendations vary from about 1 teaspoon of dried “flowers” (technically, the calyxes surrounding the flowers) per cup of boiling water up to the 5 teaspoons used in one of the Mexican studies. Steep five to 10 minutes.
If you have high blood pressure, you should own a home blood pressure monitor. Take readings before different doses and retest an hour later to see what works best for you. Check with your doctor prior to taking hibiscus if you’re currently on medication to lower blood pressure — often a combination of an herb and a lower dose of a pharmaceutical provides the same benefit.
As with all medications, allergic reactions or other side effects are possible. If you experience symptoms shortly after ingesting hibiscus, stop taking it until you talk to your doctor.