Lower Blood Pressure With Hibiscus Tea

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The hibiscus is a tropical flower that conjures up images of Hawaiian beaches or Caribbean resorts, and it is popular in island cuisine. The hibiscus tea known as kakade, however, is the national beverage not of a tropical island but of the world's most populous desert nation, Egypt. Islamic medicine has recognized the health properties of hibiscus for centuries, recently confirmed in research around the world.

Researchers at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia have found that the traditional understanding of hibiscus as "detoxifying" is not precisely correct. Their laboratory experiments with animals have found that the herb helps the liver recover after exposure to noxious chemicals and pharmaceutical agents, and the rejuvenated liver is more able to fulfill its detox function.

Although hibiscus is a good source of the trace element copper, Chinese laboratory studies find that chemicals in hibiscus tea prevent copper in the bloodstream from accelerating the conversion of LDL cholesterol into atherogenic forms. Clinical studies at the Shaheed Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and Health Services in Iran have found that drinking 3 cups of hibiscus tea a day for two weeks lowers both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by about 11 percent in hypertensive men and women over age fifty, with the effect lasting several days after the tea is discontinued (that is, if you don't drink the tea every day, you still get the benefits as long as you resume drinking it within three days). And clinical studies in Thailand have found various beneficial effects of drinking hibiscus teas on kidney health, increasing the excretion of oxalate, one of the chemical building blocks of kidney stones.

Hibiscus blossoms can be used either dried or fresh. Be forewarned that hibiscus teas (including red zinger tea backs) have a mild laxative effect, and that they also increase frequency and volume of urination. The cuisine of the American Southwest uses hibiscus in salsas and sauces; they are a tangy companion to beef or pork or a tart contrasting flavor for fruit, especially apricots.

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