The beautiful Hibiscus flower is familiar as the traditional flower of the Hawaiian Lei and sometimes worn behind the ear of Tahitian or Hawaiian women. It’s the national flower of Puerto Rico and Malaysia, and the Indian symbol for the goddess Kali. But this flower is known for much more than it’s beauty and symbolism.
In tropical climates all over the world, hibiscus has been used to treat bug bites, constipation, high blood pressure and heart disease. Western herbalists didn’t know about its healing properties until well into the 21st Century. In 1999, Iranian and Mexican studies showed that hibiscus does lower blood pressure in patients drinking the tea daily. In a recent American study, the hibiscus flower was shown to be more effective in combatting several flu strains than other herbal antivirals; and in a 2003 study the hibiscus leaf was shown to encourage hair growth.
There so much we have left to learn about this beautiful and amazing flower. For now, hibiscus tea can be enjoyed just for the taste, for its Vitamin C content, general antiviral properties and brilliant red color. This tea is not recommended in large doses for pregnant women or those taking acetaminophen. Some people can be allergic to plants in the Malvaceae family (okra, cacao, cotton) and if so, they should also avoid hibiscus.