Hibiscus is high in antioxidants and offers many potential benefits. In particular, it may help promote weight loss, reduce the growth of bacteria and cancer cells, and support the health of the heart and liver.
Hibiscus is available as an extract or, more often, a tea. Hibiscus tea is an herbal tea that’s made by steeping parts of the hibiscus plant in boiling water.
It has a tart flavor similar to that of cranberries and can be enjoyed either hot or cold.
There are several hundred species of hibiscus, varying by the location and climate they grow in, but Hibiscus sabdariffa is most commonly used to make hibiscus tea (
Research has uncovered a range of health benefits linked to drinking hibiscus tea, showing that it may lower blood pressure, reduce the growth of bacteria, and even aid weight loss.
This article reviews 8 benefits of hibiscus.
Antioxidants are molecules that help protect against compounds called free radicals, which can damage your cells (
Hibiscus is rich in powerful antioxidants and may therefore help prevent damage and disease caused by the buildup of free radicals.
One study in people with Marfan syndrome, a disorder that affects connective tissue, found that an infusion of hibiscus extract reduced oxidative stress and increased antioxidant levels in the blood (
An animal study had similar findings, showing that hibiscus extract helped protect against cell damage in rats (
However, these studies used concentrated doses of hibiscus extract rather than hibiscus tea. More research is needed to determine how antioxidants in hibiscus tea may affect humans.
Animal studies have found that hibiscus extract has antioxidant properties. Additional studies are needed to determine how this may translate to humans.
One of the most impressive and well-known benefits of hibiscus tea is that it may help lower blood pressure.
Over time, high blood pressure can place extra strain on the heart and cause it to weaken. High blood pressure is also associated with an increased risk of heart disease (
Several studies have found that hibiscus tea may lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
In one small study, 46 people with high blood pressure consumed either hibiscus tea or a placebo. After 1 month, those who drank hibiscus tea had a greater decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure than those who took the placebo (
Similarly, a 2015 review of five studies found that hibiscus tea decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 7.58 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and 3.53 mmHg, respectively (
While hibiscus tea may be a safe and natural way to help lower blood pressure, it is not recommended for those who are taking medications to treat high blood pressure, as it may interact with these drugs (8).
Some studies have found that hibiscus tea may lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. However, to prevent an interaction, it should not be taken in combination with blood pressure medications.
In addition to lowering blood pressure, some studies have found that hibiscus tea may help improve blood fat levels, which can be another risk factor for heart disease (
In a small 2009 study, 60 people with diabetes consumed either hibiscus tea or black tea. After 1 month, those who drank hibiscus tea had increased levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and decreased levels of total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides (
Another older study in people with metabolic syndrome found that taking 100 milligrams of hibiscus extract daily was associated with decreased total cholesterol and increased HDL cholesterol (
A 2022 review found that hibiscus tea could reduce levels of LDL cholesterol more effectively than other types of tea or a placebo (12).
However, other studies have produced conflicting results regarding hibiscus tea’s effects on blood cholesterol.
In fact, a review of 7 studies with a total of 362 participants concluded that hibiscus tea did not significantly reduce total cholesterol or triglyceride levels (
Most studies showing a benefit of hibiscus tea on blood fat levels have been limited to people with specific health conditions, such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
More large-scale studies examining the effects of hibiscus tea on blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels are needed to determine its potential effects in the general population.
Some studies have shown that hibiscus tea may reduce blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels in those with diabetes and metabolic syndrome. However, other studies have produced conflicting results. More research is needed in the general population.
Your liver has several functions — such as producing proteins, secreting bile, and breaking down fat — that are essential to your overall health (
Interestingly, studies have shown that hibiscus may promote liver health and help keep your liver working efficiently.
A small 2014 study in 19 people with overweight found that taking hibiscus extract for 12 weeks improved liver steatosis. This condition is characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver, which can lead to liver failure (
A study in hamsters also demonstrated the potential liver-protecting properties of hibiscus extract, showing that treatment with hibiscus extract decreased markers of liver damage (
In 2022, another animal study reported that hibiscus extract helped improve fatty liver disease in rats fed a high fat diet (
However, all these studies assessed the effects of hibiscus extract rather than hibiscus tea. Further research is necessary to find out how hibiscus tea affects liver health in humans.
Human and animal studies suggest that hibiscus extract may benefit liver health by reducing liver damage and improving fatty liver disease.
Several studies suggest that hibiscus tea may be associated with weight loss and could help protect against obesity.
In one small 2014 study, 36 participants with overweight consumed either hibiscus extract or a placebo. After 12 weeks, those who had taken hibiscus extract had reductions in body weight, body fat, body mass index, and waist-to-hip ratio (
An animal study had similar findings, suggesting that hibiscus extract could help reduce body weight and appetite by preventing the accumulation of fat cells (
Current research is limited to studies using concentrated doses of hibiscus extract. More studies are needed to determine how hibiscus tea may influence weight loss in humans.
A few human and animal studies have associated the consumption of hibiscus extract with decreases in body weight and body fat, but more research is needed.
Hibiscus is high in polyphenols, which are compounds that have been shown to possess powerful anticancer properties (
Test-tube studies have found impressive results regarding the potential effects of hibiscus extract on cancer cells.
In one test-tube study, hibiscus extract impaired cell growth and reduced the invasiveness of mouth and plasma cell cancers (
Another test-tube study reported that hibiscus leaf extract prevented human prostate cancer cells from spreading (
Hibiscus extract and its components have also been shown to inhibit the growth of other types of cancer cells in test-tube studies, including breast, stomach, and skin cancer (
Keep in mind that these were test-tube studies using large amounts of hibiscus extract. Research in humans is needed to evaluate the potential effect of hibiscus tea on cancer.
Test-tube studies suggest that hibiscus extract reduces the growth and spread of several types of cancer cells. However, human studies are needed to evaluate the effect of hibiscus tea.
Bacteria are single-celled microorganisms that can cause a variety of infections, such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and urinary tract infections.
Some test-tube studies have found that, in addition to having antioxidant and anticancer properties, hibiscus could help protect against bacterial infections.
In fact, one test-tube study found that hibiscus extract inhibited the activity of E. coli, a strain of bacteria that can cause symptoms such as cramping, gas, and diarrhea (
Another test-tube study showed that the extract fought eight strains of bacteria and was as effective as some medications used to treat bacterial infections (
However, no human studies have looked at the antibacterial effects of hibiscus tea, so it is still unclear how these results may translate to humans.
Test-tube studies have found that hibiscus extract could reduce the growth of certain strains of bacteria. More research is needed to determine how hibiscus tea may affect bacterial infections in humans.
Aside from potentially offering a multitude of health benefits, hibiscus tea is delicious and easy to prepare at home.
Simply add dried hibiscus flowers to a teapot and pour boiling water over them. Let it steep for 5 minutes, and then strain, sweeten if desired, and enjoy.
Hibiscus tea can be consumed hot or cold and has a tart taste similar to that of cranberries. For this reason, it is often sweetened with honey or flavored with a squeeze of lime juice to balance the tartness.
You can purchase dried hibiscus at your local health food store or online. Hibiscus tea is also available in premade tea bags, which you can simply steep in hot water, remove, and enjoy.
You can make hibiscus tea by steeping dried hibiscus flowers in boiling water for 5 minutes. It can be consumed hot or cold. It has a tart taste and is often sweetened with honey or flavored with lime.
Hibiscus tea is a type of herbal tea associated with many possible health benefits.
It has a delicious tart flavor, and you can make and enjoy it in your own kitchen.
Animal and test-tube studies have indicated that hibiscus may aid weight loss, improve heart and liver health, and even help reduce the growth of cancer cells and bacteria.
However, most of the current research is limited to test-tube and animal studies using large amounts of hibiscus extract. More studies are needed to determine how the benefits may apply to humans who drink hibiscus tea.