Also Known As: sorrel, Flor de Jamaica, rosemallow, Hibiscus

Hibiscus is a genus of flowering plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae. It is quite large, containing several hundred species that are native to warm-temperate, subtropical and tropical regions throughout the world. Member species are often noted for their showy flowers and are commonly known as hibiscus, sorrel, and flor de Jamaica, or less widely known as rosemallow. The genus includes both annual and perennial herbaceous plants, as well as woody shrubs and small trees. The generic name is derived from the Greek word ἱβίσκος (hibískos), which was the name Pedanius Dioscorides (ca. 40-90) gave to Althaea officinalis.

The tea is popular as a natural diuretic; it contains vitamin C and minerals, and is used traditionally as a mild medicine.

Dieters or people with kidney problems often take it without adding sugar for its beneficial properties and as a natural diuretic.

A 2008 USDA study shows consuming hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure in a group of prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults. Three cups of tea daily resulted in an average drop of 8.1 points in their systolic blood pressure, compared to a 1.3 point drop in the volunteers who drank the placebo beverage. Study participants with higher blood pressure readings (129 or above) had a greater response to hibiscus tea: their systolic blood pressure went down by 13.2 points. These data support the idea that drinking hibiscus tea in an amount readily incorporated into the diet may play a role in controlling blood pressure, although more research is required.[9]

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis has a number of medical uses in Chinese herbology.[8]

In the Indian traditional system of medicine, Ayurveda, hibiscus, especially white hibiscus and red hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), is considered to have medicinal properties. The roots are used to make various concoctions believed to cure ailments such as cough, hair loss or hair greying. As a hair treatment, the flowers are boiled in oil along with other spices to make a medicated hair oil. The leaves and flowers are ground into a fine paste with a little water, and the resulting lathery paste is used as a shampoo plus conditioner.

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