Herbal remedies have gained new popularity thanks to the release of scientific evidence validating their effectiveness. Hibiscus may have only recently become popular as an herbal supplement, but it does have strong benefits to offer. Just a few hibiscus effects are:
• Lowered Blood Pressure
• Cholesterol Reduction
• Weight Loss
• UTI Prevention
Scientists are researching the potential for further benefits from hibiscus, but what we know of hibiscus establishes it as a highly useful herb.
Hibiscus is best known for its effect on blood pressure. Several studies have examined its effects, and have observed that hibiscus lowers systolic blood pressure by an average of 7%, and in some cases as much as 13%. This is comparable to most standard blood pressure medications. Although the secret to hibiscus’ efficacy has not been identified, scientists have proposed two theories. One theory holds that hibiscus can prevent constricting of the arteries by preventing the release of certain enzymes that increase inflammation. A second theory holds that the anthocyanins found in hibiscus can improve blood vessel function and strengthen collagen, providing a sturdier structure to the blood vessel walls. Whichever proves true, scientists are confident of hibiscus’ ability to relieve blood pressure.
Alongside its ability to alleviate high blood pressure, hibiscus improves health by managing cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. One study conducted recently on hibiscus benefits noted a significant reduction in the level of harmful LDL cholesterol, as well as a drop in triglyceride levels. On the reverse side, hibiscus actually encourages the production of HDL cholesterol, the body’s natural cholesterol, capable of clearing plaque from the bloodstream. The cause seems to be hibiscus’ content of anthocyanins, which are known for their effect at regulating bad cholesterol and boosting good cholesterol. Hibiscus also offers an antioxidant, which clears free radicals from the bloodstream and prevents them from combining with cholesterol to form plaque.
Hibiscus is equipped with a few qualities that may assist with weight loss. Hibiscus can inhibit the release of a certain enzyme called amylase. This enzyme is responsible for the breakdown of complex sugars and starches, which can then be stored as fats. Preventing this process stops the sugars and starches from being absorbed into the system, thus preventing weight gain. Hibiscus also has a micronutrient called phaseolamin, which early studies imply can suppress the body’s fat absorption.
Hibiscus has shown significant effect in reducing a urinary tract infection (UTI), particularly in cases where the patient experiences relapses. Hibiscus has been shown to both treat these infections and protect against them. A study conducted on women prone to eight or more infections a year tested hibiscus’ effectiveness versus a placebo. Women taking hibiscus saw a 77% reduction in the appearance of infections over a six month period, dropping an average of four infections to one or even none. Hibiscus has several properties that are responsible for this outcome. It is a high source of vitamin C, a known immune system fortifier that promotes the body’s natural infection-fighting ability. Hibiscus also contains antimicrobial compounds, including polyphenols, flavonoids, anthocyanins and chorogenic acid. These four compounds are capable of not only eliminating bacteria, but of preventing infection by acidifying the urine, which makes it impossible for bacteria to remain in the urinary tract. Scientists also believe that acidifying the urine can protect against the formation of kidney stones.