Hibiscus rosa sinensis is a common flower found in many parts of the world. Yet only a few people are aware of its health benefits. Indian Ayurvedic medicine has recognized the medicinal effects of this flower long ago and recommends its use in treating many ailments. Chinese herbology also considers medicinal value of this plant. Hibiscus tea is popular around the world. However it is often confused with roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is a species of Hibiscus which is used in making Hibiscus tea.
Nutritional value of hibiscus
Various parts of the plant are rich in phytonutrients which can be attributed for its medicinal properties. It contains polysaccharides, anthocyanins, flavonoids, pectin and organic acids such as malic acid, citric acid, and tartaric acid.
Health benefits of Hibiscus
Hibiscus is mostly used in the tea form. It is known to offer numerous health benefits. Read on to find how you can reap the health promoting benefits of this exotic plant.
Benefits of Hibiscus for skin
Hibiscus flower extracts have been long used in skin care treatment. Today various hibiscus extract containing skin care products are available in market. Hibiscus contains high levels of vitamin C, which is a potent antioxidant. This flower also has anti-inflammatory properties that help in preventing acne. Hibiscus helps in increasing the elasticity of your skin, thereby keeping it firm and well toned. By removing wrinkles, marks and fine lines, hibiscus helps you have a youthful appearance. It is also a natural moisturizer that has astringent properties, which helps in preventing many kinds of skin conditions like eczema. It also exfoliates your skin by removing dirt, impurities and dead cells, thus keeping your skin soft, smooth and fresh looking.
Benefits of Hibiscus for hair
Hibiscus helps you have shiny and healthy hair. It moisturizes your hair and prevents conditions like dandruff and itchy scalp. It also strengthens your hair and prevents hair breakage. Hibiscus leaves juice is considered beneficial in blackening of hair.
Hibiscus hair tonic can be made at home from the petals of the flower. This tonic acts as a natural dye and prevents graying of hair. For making the tonic, add about 25 to 30 dried hibiscuses to about 500ml of water and gently simmer for a few minutes till it turns into a purple color. Make sure not to boil the tonic as it will remove all the benefits. Remove from heat and store this liquid in a clean bottle. Every time you shampoo your hair, make sure to use this tonic as a conditioner. After applying this tonic on your hair, keep your hair covered with a towel or shower cap. Do not rinse for at least 45 minutes. After the said time, rinse your hair thoroughly until all the color has gone. You will find that all the grays have been naturally colored.
Hibiscus contains linolenic acid and hyaluronic acid that stimulate growth of hair and improves the strength of your hair. Hibiscus infused oil when applied on the scalp will increase hair growth. For making this oil take 4-5 flowers and 2-3 leaves in a mortar and pestle and crush them. Add the crushed mixture to coconut oil or olive oil and simmer over low flame. Switch off the flame and allow the oil to cool. Your hibiscus infused hair oil is ready! Heat this oil before use and after applying on your scalp and hair, leave it on for about 30-45 minutes and then wash it off.
Lab studies show that petroleum ether extract of hibiscus leaves are more potent than flowers extract in promoting hair growth. Ayurveda also promotes use of Gudhal (Hibiscus) leaves as therapy for good hair. Crushed hibiscus leaves can be applied to scalp to prevent hair loss.
Hibiscus improves cardiovascular health
This wonderful plant has been found to be effective in lowering blood pressure and hence is highly beneficial for people suffering from cardiovascular problems. It also helps in reducing the levels of cholesterol in your blood and prevents the accumulation of fat in the blood vessels. As a result, your blood circulation is improved which reduces your risks of heart attacks. Furthermore, hibiscus is useful in relieving stress, another factor that is known to affect your heart and the normal functioning of your body.
Hibiscus and diabetes
Latest research using hibiscus are in area of benefits of hibiscus over treatment of diabetes. Various parts of this plant have shown potential results in reducing blood sugar and lipid levels. A study published in Indian Journal of clinical biochemistry found that extract of hibiscus root reduced diabetes in drug induced diabetic rats. Similarly other study pointed out antidiabetic properties of Hibiscus leaf extract. A study published in Journal of Enthopharmacology suggests that blood sugar reducing properties of ethanol flower extract of Hibiscus is comparable to drug glibenclamide.
Hibiscus promotes weight loss
Hibiscus is an excellent remedy for weight loss. The flower of this plant is found to contain hydroxycitric acid, an ingredient commonly found in most weight loss pills. Studies reveal that this herb contains enzyme inhibitors that stimulate the release of amylase, an enzyme that helps in breaking down starch and sugars. This leads to the reduced absorption of these substances by your body. Moreover hibiscus has laxative properties and also diuretic properties that prevent water or fluid retention in the body.
Hibiscus fights cancer
Hibiscus is rich in antioxidants which protect damage of cells from free radicals which often cause cancerous development. Various studies have been undertaken to study protective effect of hibiscus in preventing tumor and cancer.
Hibiscus slows down aging
The high levels of antioxidants in hibiscus can slow down the aging process by eliminating the free radicals and neutralizing their harmful effects on the cells of your body. Hibiscus also offers benefits in enhancing brain activity and cognition. A study published in Indian Journal of Pharmacology suggests protective role of Hibiscus over age related amnesia, dementia, other cognitive disorders and reperfusion injury in ischemia
Hibiscus boosts your immune system
The high concentration of vitamin C in hibiscus helps in fighting diseases and infections by strengthening the natural defense system of your body. It has strong anti-microbial properties, which fights off the bacteria and viruses that attack your body. In-vitro studies has found strong antibacterial activity of Hibiscus flower extract over human pathogens and suggests its use in drug development.
Hibiscus for respiratory health
Hibiscus flowers are used in many countries as a remedy for relieving respiratory problems and also to improve the health of the respiratory system. Hibiscus has been found to be effective in treating respiratory tract infections. It has anti-microbial properties that help in fighting against respiratory tract infections. With excellent source of Vitamin C, Hibiscus is used as remedy over flu, cold, cough and sore throat. Hibiscus flowers are traditionally used used in treatment of bronchial catarrh and fever.
Hibiscus can induce sleep
Hibiscus is considered to induce relaxation and sleep. So people who have difficulty sleeping may try this remedy to get a good night’s sleep.
Hibiscus as anti-depressant
China rose flowers contain flavonoids which are found to offer anti depressant properties with possible involvement of monoamines. Animal study conducted with extract of hibiscus flowers suggests antidepressant activity of hibiscus and suggests its potential used in treatment of central nervous system disorders.
Hibiscus benefits for women
Hibiscus is effective in reducing menstrual cramps and also in preventing excessive bleeding during periods. Hibiscus helps in soothing hot flashes and hence is very beneficial for women that suffer from this condition during their menopause. Hibiscus flowers are used in several countries in treating menstruation related problems. In Bangladesh and India, decoction of hibiscus flowers is used to regulate menstrual cycle. While hot water extract of flowers & bark is used in China to treat irregular menstruation.
Antifertility properties of Hibiscus
Over 100 million women world wide use hormonal contraceptives. While synthetic contraceptive pills carry various side effects, anti fertility properties of hibiscus can be exploited as easy natural contraceptive. Water extract of Hibiscus stem and flowers has been traditionally used as contraceptive and abortifacient. Lab animal studies have confirmed properties of plant extract in preventing conception. contraceptive. Various ancient Ayurvedic and Unani text carry references of this property of hibiscus. This can be attributed to potential activity of phytoestrogens in hibiscus. An initial study has pointed out towards antispermatogenetic effect of the flower extract of Hibiscus in men.
Hibiscus for digestive health
Hibiscus is a good herbal remedy for relieving indigestion. It has been found to be beneficial in relieving stomach pain and other digestive problems. Hibiscus also helps in promoting good appetite and proper digestion.
Hibiscus promotes wound healing
Hibiscus contains compounds that aids in the faster healing of wounds and repairing of damaged and injured tissues. Animal study undertaken toward evaluation of wound healing activity of hibiscus in rats showed positive results. Wound healing activity of ethanol extract of hibiscus was greater than that of nitrofurazone ointment. Hibiscus increases development of cells and collagen at wound side. Hibiscus extracted treated wounds were found to heal faster significantly than the control group.
Hibiscus is a diuretic
Hibiscus has been found to have mild diuretic properties. Diuretics are substances that increase the production of urine. As the rate of urination increases, the various toxins and harmful substances are eliminated at a faster rate, thus detoxifying and cleansing your body. The diuretic property of hibiscus may make it useful in the treatment of different conditions such as liver cirrhosis, heart diseases, high blood pressure and kidney diseases. Apart from diuretic activity, studies have also found that hibiscus lowers level of uric acid in blood and prevents development of kidney stones by accumulation of uric acid in kidney.
Hibiscus improves liver health
According to traditional medicine, hibiscus can be used to treat several liver disorders. The antioxidants in hibiscus have been found to protect the liver, reduce inflammation and also boost liver health. This study has found benefits of hibiscus root in preventing cholesterol based hepatic steatosis / liver damage. Anthocynidins in hibiscus petals are found to offer protective effect to liver.
Other traditional benefits of hibiscus
- Leaves – Hibiscus leaves are used in treatment of diarrhea. A decoction prepared from hibiscus leaves is used to relieve pain, treat headaches and fevers. Hibiscus leaves offer mild laxative property. Hibiscus leaves are emollient offering moisturizing property. Leaves juice is considered beneficial in gonorrhea and alopecia. They are used to boost metabolism, fight fatigue and cure skin diseases.
- Buds – Hibiscus buds work as astringent and helps in treating urinary tract and vaginal disorders. It is also used in preventing intestinal worms.
- Flowers – Flowers of the plant are used as anticonvulsant in epilepsy.
Other uses of Hibiscus
Hibiscus flowers are edible and used in salad in Pacific islands. As pH indicator, they turn green in basic solution and dark pink in acidic solution. Flowers hold special position in spiritual practice in India and considered favorite to Lord Ganesha.
Other names of Hibiscus rosa sinensis
China Rose, Chinese hibiscus, rose mallow, shoe flower, Lipstick Flower, Shoeback Plant, Kinaros, Aute, jasum or Gudhal (hindi), Juba (Mainpuri), Jaba (Bengali), DasavaLa (kannada), Chemparati (Malayalam), cembarutti (Tamil), Jaswand (Marathi), Dosni (Konkani), Mondaro (Oriya), Mamdaram (Telegu), Kembang Sepatu or Shoe flower (Indonesia), Gumamela (Filipino), zhū jǐn 朱槿 (Chinese), Bunga Raya (Malay – Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is the national flower of Malaysia)
Hibiscus has long been admired for its beautiful and colorful flowers. But more than its stunning appearance, nowadays it has become popular for the various medicinal and health benefits it offers. It is a flower that contains astonishing properties for boosting your health. Make sure to take advantage of the numerous health benefits of hibiscus to treat and prevent various ailments and also to improve your overall well being.Image Credits: Wikimedia - Navez