Sipping Hibiscus Tea Can Help Lower Blood Pressure
Ah, tea' for us tea-lovers, it's like a hug in a cup. But tea brings with it many more benefits than just 'simply' pleasure. Different types of tea offer different sorts of therapeutic benefits and medicinal properties. According to research, the lovely Hibiscus sabdariffa plant also offers some interesting benefits for those who suffer from hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure.
One study from late 2008 by Diane L. McKay, PhD, of Tufts University in Boston, indicates that people with the highest blood pressure at the start of the six-week study benefited the most from drinking three cups of herbal tea containing hibiscus each day. This study included 65 healthy men and women with modestly elevated blood pressure. Dr. McKay told the American Heart Association that overall, drinking hibiscus tea blends lowered systolic blood pressure -- the top number in the blood pressure reading -- by an average of 7 points. That was significantly more than the 1-point drop observed in people who were given a placebo in the form of hibiscus-flavored water.
Some might think that a 7-point drop in blood pressure doesn't seem like much, but studies have shown that "even small changes in blood pressure, when maintained over time, will reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack." Dr. Robert H. Eckel, says that while more studies could help determine whether herbal tea's blood-pressure-lowering effect can actually be sustained over a long period; but the degree of blood pressure lowering associated with tea drinking in the study was as much as would be expected with standard blood pressure drugs.
Hibiscus tea on ice is well known as a refreshing beverage in the Caribbean islands, South America, and Mexico. But beyond delicious, its ability to lower high blood pressure is good news. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately one out of every three adults in the United States has elevated blood pressure, a condition called hypertension. Though numerous antihypertensive prescription medications are available, treatment with the natural supplement hibiscus offers significant promise. Green Tea Elixir from IVL includes hibiscus and green tea extract. It helps support the immune system and heart.
Hibiscus has been shown to be usually well tolerated when used as directed. Despite the potential health benefits associated with hibiscus, treatment with this herb may not be appropriate for everyone. The safety of hibiscus has not been evaluated in children and pregnant or lactating women. For this reason, children and expectant or breast-feeding mothers should avoid using hibiscus without first consulting a doctor. Consuming hibiscus before taking a dose of acetaminophen may increase the rate at which your body metabolizes this pain-reliever. Until more is known about this medication interaction, avoid taking hibiscus in conjunction with acetaminophen.
How much to take?
The amount of hibiscus you should take to help lower your blood pressure levels may vary depending on your weight, age and health status. Your health care provider can help recommend the appropriate dose of hibiscus for your condition. For this reason, consult a doctor before taking hibiscus as a treatment for hypertension. Dried flowers from the Hibiscus sabdariffa plant are usually prepared as a medicinal tea. To help lower blood pressure, health professionals with the University of Michigan Health System recommend infusing 1 cup of water with 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried hibiscus flowers. You can consume up to three cups of hibiscus tea daily. Alternatively, drinking one 500 mL serving of hibiscus tea each day before breakfast may also help to lower your blood pressure levels.
How It Works
Hibiscus may help to lower blood pressure through several possible actions, including blocking a natural substance in the body called angiotensin I converting enzyme, which causes blood vessels to narrow, thereby increasing blood pressure. Other possible beneficial effects include stimulating the immune system to enhance wound healing, lowering blood cholesterol levels, and inhibiting the herpes simplex virus. Hibiscus also contains substances that may act as antioxidants, as well as lower fever, relieve pain and prevent muscle spasms.
Several studies in people with high blood pressure have shown that hibiscus may have notable blood pressure lowering effects. Comparison of hibiscus to black tea showed that hibiscus lowered blood pressure significantly more than black tea. Other research has shown that the blood pressure lowering effects of hibiscus may be similar to some medicines used to treat high blood pressure.
Hibiscus Flower Tea
Serves: 6 (Yield: 1.5 quarts)
6 cups water
1/4 inch fresh ginger, finely grated
3/4 cup dried hibiscus flowers (also known as Jamaica flowers or flor de jamaica)
3/4 cup granulated sugar or substitute honey or stevia
1 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
Combine water and ginger in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and stir in hibiscus flowers and sweetener until sweetener is dissolved. Let steep 10 minutes.
Strain into a large, heat-resistant bowl or pot. Stir in lime juice and set aside to cool. Refrigerate until ready to use. Serve over ice. Decorate glass with orange slice. Enjoy!
If you don't have time to make hibiscus tea every day but still want to benefit from this magical plant, consider taking a health supplement that has hibiscus extract in it.