Hibiscus are the beautiful showy flowers, commonly found in the tropics and warm areas of our globe.  Hibiscus flowers are members of the mallow family and there are hundreds of different species of hibiscus.  The flowers have large, brightly colored blossoms and many are shaped like a horn or trumpet. Some species will even change color as they age. The pistil and stamens often bulge dramatically from the horn of the flower, adding to its reputation as a showy blossoming flower.

Hibiscus tea is known as the “sour tea” in Iran and is a delightful drink that can be served either hot or cold.  The beverage is well known for its color and bitter flavor.  Dried hibiscus can be eaten and is considered a delicacy in certain parts of the world.  It can be candied and also used to garnish foods. Some types of hibiscus are used as a natural source of food coloring. The hibiscus flower is traditionally worn by Hawaiian girls. If the flower is worn behind the left ear, the girls are married or in a relationship.  If the flower is worn on the right, she is single or available for a relationship. This beautiful flower has also been used in many cosmetic products, such hair coloring agents, hair oil, hair loss products and as a shampoo and conditioner.

Medicinal properties of hibiscus are wide and variable depending on the culture that is using it.  The tea is popular choice for a natural diuretic. Dieters or people with kidney problems have consumed this tea for its beneficial properties.  In Ayurvedic medicine, the roots of this plant can be used to relieve certain ailments including cough.  The ancient Egyptian Pharaohs drank hibiscus tea, and today it’s still a common toast in many Egyptian weddings.  Consumed in Egypt today, hibiscus is used to maintain a normal body temperature, support a healthy cardiovascular system and upper respiratory system, relieve constipation and encourage fluid balance.  In Iran, it has been traditionally used to promote a strong cardiovascular system including healthy blood pressure.  Previous studies have supported this notion.   A 2008 USDA study showed that consuming hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure in a group of pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults.  Although more research is required, this study encourages the idea that drinking hibiscus tea may have a positive effect on lowering blood pressure.  Even though hibiscus tea may seem to be a good medicinal plant for you, it is always advisable to check with your health care providers before consuming any medicinal plant.