How This Helps

Hibiscus is a common flowering shrub whose cultivation is widely scattered in tropical and subtropical countries. It is a perennial plant with more than 300 species, among which Hibiscus sabdariffa and Hibiscus altissima are the most common ones. Various parts of the shrub have been used since ages as coloring and flavoring agents. It has also been traditionally used as botanical and herbal medicine. Fresh or dried leaves and flower petals of the plant are either used in their raw form or powdered form. Hibiscus powder finds its use in treating various health conditions as well as in cosmetic and skincare regime. 

Hibiscus powder health benefits

The pleasantly smelling ground hibiscus flowers can be used for many health & beauty care applications, recipes and as a natural colorant. This article focuses on some of the benefits and uses of hibiscus powder. [1]

 

1.      Prevention of high cholesterol level and hypertension

In 2010 a study was conducted to find out the therapeutic effect oh Hibiscus powder extract on metabolic syndromes like hyperlipidemia and hypertension that leads to the onset of coronary conditions. The randomized follow-up study demonstrated that anthocyanins present in the hibiscus powder extract are significant components with cholesterol and hypertension, reducing properties. This study also postulated that anthocyanins help to regulate the adipocyte function that contributes to preventing metabolic syndrome. [2] 

In another randomized control trial, the powder extract of the calyces of hibiscus was used to study its effect on hypertension. Results suggested that regular consumption of the powdered extract lowers systolic and diastolic blood pressure significantly. [3] 


2.      Prevention of microbial infection

Antibiotic resistance has taken the form of global concern. The propagation of resistant bacterias has increased mortality and morbidity rates. The pharmaceutical companies are now seeking the solution in the potential plant extracts to combat this issue. The screening result of hibiscus powder has shown promising results against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Klebsiella pneumonia. The powdered extract is rich in phytochemical components like cardiac glycosides, alkaloids, flavonoids, and saponins. It exhibits antimicrobial activity to treat conditions like abscesses, cough, etc. The extract of colored petals is used to treat tuberculosis infection. [4] [5]

In a study, it was found that the powdered extract of hibiscus shows a vital spectrum of antibiotic activity against Multi Drug-Resistant Gram-Negative Bacteria. The phytochemical screening suggests that an element named alkaloid is responsible for the inhibitory activity against various microorganisms. These studies support the traditional belief of the use of hibiscus powder and can pave a path for the development of new herbal antibiotic agents. [6]


3.       Use of hibiscus powder for cancer care

A study was done to find out the effect of hibiscus extract on prostate cancer. The results of the survey revealed that hibiscus extract acts as a chemotherapeutic agent. Owing to its ability to induce cell death or apoptosis in tumor or cancer cells, it has shown promising results to treat prostate cancer. The anticancer study highlights the fact that hibiscus extract mediates intrinsic and extrinsic apoptotic pathways in prostate tumor cells of humans. [7].

An evaluation study performed on mice demonstrated the immunomodulatory effect of hibiscus extract. The plant extract can modulate the production of two crucial inflammatory cytokinins in the body. They enhance the cell-mediated and humoral activity of the immune system, making it able to fight the cancer cells in the body. [8]


4.       Use of hibiscus powder to treat gastrointestinal disorders

The powder of aerial parts of the plant has been used traditionally to treat various gastrointestinal disorders like diarrhea and constipation. Studies have confirmed the concept behind traditional use by establishing the presence of both spasmolytic and spasmogenic components in the extract. The result of this survey demonstrates that the effect depends on the concentration of the dose of the hibiscus powder. While a small dose is known to induce a weak stimulatory effect on the gastrointestinal tract, on the other hand, high dose results in an inhibitory effect. The mechanism behind this therapeutic action was traced to be the blockage of calcium channel activity. The crude powder extract of the hibiscus plant works through cholinergic receptors and thus explains the traditional use. [9]


5.       For the therapy and management of anemia

Herbal decoctions made from plant extracts had been in use for ages. The local people of Nigeria have been using the decoction made from the powdered calyx of the hibiscus plant to treat anemia. The herb is rich in iron and zinc content that makes it the choice of drug for the management of anemia. The powdered extract of hibiscus exhibits the membrane stabilizing activity and also helps to maintain the red blood cells. [10]

Another cross-sectional survey reveals that people in the coastal regions of Tanzania use hibiscus extract as a healing agent. Their rich traditional medicine knowledge had lead to research on hibiscus extract, and it has shown promising results for its anti anemic property. [11]


6.       Use of hibiscus extract to promote hair growth and prevent premature greying

Folklore and traditional medicine throughout the world have mentioned the use of hibiscus extract to promote hair growth. In India, people have been using hibiscus leaf extract for ages as a hair tonic. In vivo studies on albino rats have proved that hibiscus extract of leaf and petals act as a growth-promoting factor for the hair follicles. Hibiscus extract is found in many cosmetic and beauty products. [12] [13]

Nowadays, many people are facing the problem of premature greying of hair. They are seeking more natural Dy options to avoid the side effects of chemical colorants. The dried fine powder of hibiscus is a prescribed beard and hair coloring agent. Its continuous use, along with jatamansi herb, makes hair thick and dark in color. [14]


See: How long does it take to reduce cholesterol

Precautions & side effects

Hibiscus is generally safe for the majority of individuals when consumed in nominal food amounts. The potential undesirable effects of hibiscus aren't known. However, one must exercise caution in the following cases:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Hibiscus is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during maternity. There's some evidence that hibiscus may start menstruation, and this might make a miscarriage. There's insufficient reliable information about the safety of taking hibiscus if you're breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and prevent use.

Diabetes: Hibiscus might decrease blood glucose levels. The dose of your diabetes drugs may have to be corrected by your physician.

Low blood pressure: Hibiscus may lower blood pressure. In theory, taking hibiscus might create blood pressure become too low in people with low blood pressure.

Surgery: Hibiscus may affect blood glucose levels, making blood glucose control difficult during and following surgery. Quit using hibiscus at least two weeks before a scheduled operation.


See: Auricular Acupuncture for Relief of Hypertension and Insomnia

Summary

Hibiscus is a plant with numerous health as well as beauty benefits. Extracts of various parts of the plants have been used in local medicine and traditional Indian medicine for ages. Studies conducted on the use of hibiscus powder have revealed its antibiotic, antihypertensive, anticholesterol, and antitumor properties. The powder is also used to treat constipation and diarrhea. It is also used to treat anemia, and in the field of beauty care, it acts as a tonic for hair growth. The root and flower extracts are most commonly used. Although being a herbal product, it has no side effects, but it is always better to consult a physician before indulging in self-treatment.

See: Amla Health Benefits & Side Effects

References

1.   Da-Costa-Rocha, I.,  Sievers, H., Pischel, I., Bonnlaender, B.,& Heinrich, M. (2014). Hibiscus sabdariffa L.–A phytochemical and pharmacological review. Food Chemistry, 165, 424-443.

2.   Gurrola-Díaz, C. M., García-López, P. M., Sánchez-Enríquez, S., Troyo-Sanromán, R., Andrade-González, I., & Gómez-Leyva, J. F. (2010). Effects of Hibiscus sabdariffa extract powder & preventive treatment (diet) on the lipid profiles of patients with metabolic syndrome (MeSy). Phytomedicine, 17(7), 500-505.

3.   Hopkins, A. L., Lamm, M. G., Ritenbaugh, C,& Funk, J. L. (2013). Hibiscus sabdariffa L. in the treatment of hypertension & hyperlipidemia: a comprehensive review of animal and human studies. Fitoterapia, 85, 84-94.

4.   Olaleye, M. T. (2007). Cytotoxicity & antibacterial activity of methanolic extract of Hibiscus sabdariffa. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, 1(1), 9-13.

5.   Arullappan, S., Zakaria, Z., & Basri, D. F. (2009). Preliminary screening of antibacterial activity using crude extracts of Hibiscus rosa sinensis. Tropical life sciences research, 20(2), 109.

6.   Djeussi, D. E.,  Seukep, J. A., Noumedem, J. A., Fankam, A. G., Voukeng, I. K., Tankeo, S. B., ... & Kuete, V. (2013). Antibacterial activities of selected edible plants extract against multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 13(1), 164.

7.   Chiu, C. T., Chen, J. H., Chou, F. P., & Lin, H. H. (2015). Hibiscus sabdariffa leaf extract inhibits human prostate cancer cell invasion via down-regulation of Akt/NF-kB/MMP-9 pathway. Nutrients, 7(7), 5065-5087.

8.   Fakeye, T. O., Pal, A., Bawankule, D. U., & Khanuja, S. P. S. (2008). Immunomodulatory effect of extracts of Hibiscus sabdariffa L.(Family Malvaceae) in a mouse model. An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological & Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives, Phytotherapy Research:  22(5), 664-668.

9.   Gilani, A. H., Janbaz, K. H., Bashir, S., & Shah, A. J. (2005). The presence of cholinergic & calcium channel blocking activities explains the traditional use of Hibiscus rosasinensis in constipation & diarrhea. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 102(2), 289-294.

10. Falade, O. S., Otemuyiwa, I. O., Oladipo, A., Oyedapo, O. O., Akinpelu, B. A., & Adewusi, S. R. A. (2005). The chemical composition and membrane stability activity of some herbs used in local therapy for anemia. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 102(1), 15-22.

11. Peter, E. L., Rumisha, S. F., Mashoto, K. O., & Malebo, H. M. (2014). Ethno-medicinal knowledge & plants traditionally used to treat anemia in Tanzania: A cross-sectional survey. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 154(3), 767-773.

12.  Adhirajan, N., Kumar, T. R., Shanmugasundaram, N., & Babu, M. (2003). In-vivo and in-vitro evaluation of hair growth potential of Hibiscus rosa-Sinensis Linn. Journal of ethnopharmacology,88(2-3), 235-239.

13.  Punasiya, R., Verma, R., & Pillai, S. (2014). In vitro hair growth-promoting activity of various leaves extract of Hibiscus syriacus L. on albino rats. International Journal of Pharmacy & Life Sciences, 5(5).

14.  Singh, V., Ali, M., & Upadhyay, S. (2015). Study of the coloring effect of herbal hair formulations on graying hair. Pharmacognosy Research, 7(3), 259.

15. https://www.rxlist.com/hibiscus/supplements.htm

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