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Evidence-Based Health Benefits Of Hibiscus Flower And Leaves

Hibiscus is a popular plant in many countries, including India due to its multiple medicinal benefits. It is a large colourful flower that belongs to the family Malvaceae.

Out of around 200 or more different varieties of hibiscus species with varying colours, hibiscus rosa-sinensis and Hibiscus sabdariffa (roselle) are the most popular which are commonly identified by their red colours.

Other names for hibiscus include shoeblack plant, rose of Sharon, China rose, Bengal rose and rose mallow. Hibiscus can be used in many ways depending on the type of ailment. The most common forms of hibiscus used are hibiscus tea made from its flower and leaves, hibiscus oil, hibiscus paste and hibiscus powder. Hibiscus can also be converted into jams, sauces or soups and used as culinary ingredients.

In this article, we will discuss some of the amazing and proven health benefits of hibiscus. Take a look.

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Health Benefits Of Hibiscus

1. Manages diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic condition and an important challenge in the worldwide healthcare system. According to a study, hibiscus rosa sinensis has an anti-diabetic effect and may help reduce blood glucose in both healthy adults and people with diabetes. [1]

Another study says that the hibiscus can suppress the absorption of carbohydrates in the intestine and thus, can help reduce the postprandial glucose rise or sugar spike after meals. [2]

2. Benefits pregnant women with diabetes

Pregnant women, who are also diabetics may have to face a few more challenges during their gestation period compared to non-diabetic pregnant women. The complications include excessive birth weight, preterm birth and stillbirth of newborns.

A study has shown that hibiscus can cause positive impacts on diabetic pregnant women and their offspring compared to non-diabetic pregnant women.This could be due to the presence of phenolic compounds and flavonoids in the hibiscus which are responsible for its anti-diabetic effects. [3]

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3. Slows down breast cancer progression

Breast cancer comes among the most prevalent cancer types in women. The treatment for the condition gets complex when cancer metastasizes to various organs of the body.

According to a study, hibiscus extract, when combined with chemotherapeutic treatments, can notably induce apoptosis against breast cancer cells and prevent its progression. Also, hibiscus can help reduce the chemotherapy doses and related toxicity during the treatment by reducing oxidative stress. [4]

4. Manages high blood pressure

Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) has a low degree of toxicity and its decoction is used in around ten countries worldwide to reduce blood pressure, says a study. Consumption of hibiscus daily can help lower the systolic and diastolic blood pressure in people with mild to moderate hypertension.

The anthocyanins (a pigment that gives the flower its colour) in hibiscus is in abundance and is generally responsible for their antihypertensive activity. [5]

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5. Cures cold

Some of the phenolic acids in hibiscus include ascorbic acid (vitamin C), malic acid, citric acid and hydroxycitric acid. [6] These acids have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects against a range of illnesses, including cold, cough and flu.

Hibiscus can help bring instant relief from cough and cold when consumed as a tea prepared from its flower and leaves. It can also act as a great tonic for other respiratory problems like sore throat and mild headache.

6. Helps people with obesity

Obesity and related metabolic disorders such as diabetes and hypertension can be caused by an improper diet that can alter certain gene expressions and cause the condition.

Plant polyphenols, especially anthocyanins and other polyphenols in hibiscus may have the capability to reduce the oxidative stress and inflammatory markers in the body and thus, reverse the gene alteration that is causing obesity. Hibiscus is also known as a safe and effective formulation for obesity. [7]

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7. May prevent and treat skin cancer

A study has shown that hibiscus can help inhibit the growth of melanoma cell growth, a type of skin cancer responsible for 80 per cent of skin cancer deaths.

Hibiscus flower contains polyphenols that can not only prevent the growth of cancerous cells but also halts their growth in people already with melanoma. Thus, it may help reduce the mortality rate of the condition. [8]

8. Good for heart

Hibiscus is believed to have polyphenols which are good for the heart. It can help treat various heart conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol and thus, keeps the heart-healthy.

Hibiscus also has the potential to reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the heart, and this, prevent the risk of cardiovascular diseases. [9]

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9. Good for reproductive system

A study has shown that hibiscus can help regulate the menstrual cycle and treat dysmenorrhea (severe menstrual cramps and pain) in women. The flower can also help treat infertility in women.

Hibiscus may increase the production of estradiol and progesterone in the body, the two hormones that help maintain the menstrual cycle and reduce the related symptoms. [10] The flower may also help treat menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.

10. Treats constipation

Hibiscus is known to have spasmogenic and spasmolytic compounds that can help treat gastrointestinal disorders such as constipation.

These properties promote the contraction of smooth muscles in a safe manner and help release the stool. Also, the hibiscus acts as a great laxative that helps encourage bowel movement by bulking up the stool. [11]

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11. Good for skin

Hibiscus, especially its leaves, acts as an excellent skin cleanser. Scrubbing hibiscus leaves on the face and neck may help remove dead skin cells, blackheads and whiteheads and make the skin soft and smooth.

The anti-inflammatory properties of hibiscus may also help treat skin problems like acne and dry skin. Hibiscus can also help slow down the ageing induced by harmful UV rays by increasing collagen production and reducing melanin synthesis. [12]

12. Helps in weight loss

As aforementioned, hibiscus can help reduce total cholesterol and obesity, and help flush out unwanted toxins and calories from the body, all that helps in maintaining a healthy weight of a person.

A study has shown that hibiscus reduces obesity and abdominal fat and may help improve the body's metabolism that contributes to losing weight easily. [13]

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13. Good for hair

Studies say that paste made of crushed hibiscus leaves and petals can be used as a natural conditioner for hair. It is known to darken hair colour and reduce dandruff when applied after shampoo.

Along with reducing hair fall, hibiscus can also help prevent premature greying of hair and may support hair growth, strengthening the follicles and minimising hair fall.

14. Helps in wound healing

A study says that hibiscus has a greater wound-healing effect compared to nitrofurazone ointment, a drug usually used to treat infected burns and skin infections.

Hibiscus, upon application, may help increase the cell growth and collagen synthesis at the site of the wound and promote fast healing of wounds, along with increasing their closure rate and tensile strength. Hibiscus may also help reduce the wound marks and pain. [14]

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To Conclude

Hibiscus is considered a herb due to its application in various traditional remedies and folk medicines. As we know that herbs are dose-dependent and should be taken or applied in proper forms to minimise any side effects (though they have fewer side effects), it is always good to consult a medical expert before its usage, depending on your medical condition or which health benefit you desire.