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Hibiscus: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects And More!

By Dr Anuja Bodhare +2 more


Hibiscus, commonly called Roselle, belongs to the family Malvaceae. Hibiscus has over 300 species of flowering plants, and one of them is Hibiscus sabdariffa Linne. It is considered a multipurpose plant that may have various health benefits. Hibiscus is a perennial flowering plant grown throughout the seasons. The shrub originated in Africa and is planted worldwide in tropical and subtropical regions of India, China, Sudan, Malaysia, Taiwan and many other countries.1-3

hibiscus flower benefits

Hibiscus is cultivated for flowers, leaves, stems, seeds and roots. Hibiscus flowers and seed oils are widely used in food, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical formulations. Hibiscus has medicinal value, which has been referenced in Ayurveda and the Chinese medicine system. It is commonly called Lalambari or Gudhal in Hindi and Jaswandh in Marathi.1,2

Nutritional Value of Hibiscus: 

According to a study, regular consumption of hibiscus tea potentially lowered the blood pressure of a hypertensive patient as compared to the initial dose of the standard medication to lower the BP. So, hibiscus tea might be useful to bring down high BP with the avoidance of side effects of the medications used to treat hypertension.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Did you know?

  • Hibiscus extract has been found to have anti-aging effects on the skin. source: PubMed
  • Hibiscus extracts may offer a source of products that can be used to prevent and treat melanoma. source: PMC
  • The leaf extract of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is more potent in promoting hair growth compared to the flower extract. source: PubMed
  • Hibiscus extract can help regulate lipid metabolism and reduce cholesterol levels in the body. source: PubMed
  • In a study, hibiscus extract supplementation resulted in a significant reduction in body weight and waist circumference. source: PubMed

Hibiscus has good nutritional value, which is given below. 

Nutritional Value Calyx Seeds Leaves  
Carbohydrate (g) 10.2 25.5 8.7 
Fat (g) 0.1 21.4 0.3 
Protein (g) 28.9 3.5 
Vitamin C (mg) 17 2.3 
Calcium (mg) 150 350 240 
Iron (mg) 
Thiamine (mg) 0.05 0.1 0.2 
Riboflavin (mg) 0.07 0.15 0.4 
Niacin (mg) 0.06 1.5 1.4 

Table1: Nutritional value of Hibiscus per 100 grams4 

Also Read: Guduchi : Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Properties of Hibiscus:

In Egypt and Sudan, tea extracted from a part of the hibiscus flower is used as a refrigerant to lower body temperature. This preparation is known as karkade.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

The whole plant of hibiscus, including the flower, stem, leaves, roots and seeds, has beneficial properties .1

  • It may have antiseptic properties
  • It may have anti-spasmodic properties (relieves muscle spasms)
  • It may have blood pressure-lowering properties
  • It may have a mild laxative effect (help constipation)
  • It may have a diuretic effect (increase urine production)
  • It may have antioxidant activity
  • It may have anti-cancer activity
  • It may have an antipyretic effect (reduce fever)
  • It may have sedative properties
  • It may have blood sugar-lowering properties.1-4

Also Read: Neem: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, and more!

Potential Uses of Hibiscus:

Hibiscus may have the following potential uses that might benefit various health conditions.

1. Potential Uses of hibiscus for cancer

Hibiscus calyx juice might be beneficial for cancer. It may show an antiproliferative (reducing cancer cell spread) effect and has antioxidants which may perform free radical scavenging activities. The human cell line studies by Akim et al. 2011 have shown that hibiscus juice may cause cancer cell death. It might be considered that hibiscus may have potential uses in cancer-related diseases. 1,2

However, these studies are insufficient and require more human trials to support the potential use of hibiscus for cancer management in humans. Cancer is a serious medical condition and may require a qualified doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, seeking medical advice from a doctor before consuming hibiscus juice is preferable.

2. Potential Uses of hibiscus for   blood sugar

The efficacy of hibiscus in the management of insulin resistance and diabetes mellitus type 2 was studied in an animal model (Peng CH. et al. 2011). The results revealed a significant reduction in blood sugar levels. It also showed that the hibiscus extract might have anti-insulin resistance properties (shows an insulin-like response), decreasing high blood sugar and insulin levels.4 These studies are insufficient as these studies are not done on humans. However, more studies on humans are required to back this claim. Therefore, it is essential to first speak to your concerned doctors and only have hibiscus as a herb.

PharmEasy Recommends – Atulya Hibiscus Organic Powder

3. Potential Uses of hibiscus for hair health

Hibiscus leaves and flowers may have beneficial properties for hair health. It might be helpful in circulating the blood to hair follicles. The leaves and flowers of hibiscus contain natural pigments, antioxidants and vitamins that might be useful for hair health.5,6

According to animal studies done by N. Adhirajan et al. 2003, the topical application of leaf extract and gentle rubbing action on the skin enhanced blood circulation; this may have some effect on hair growth. This study also mentions that the hibiscus leaf extract might directly impact hair follicles, improving hair condition.5,7

These studies are carried out on animals and not done on humans. Hence, this information is insufficient. We require more studies on humans back above claim. So, it is essential to first speak to your concerned doctors and only use hibiscus for hair health.

You might like – Best Home Remedies for Hair Growth

4. Potential Uses of hibiscus for the skin health

Hibiscus plants are rich sources of mucilages, which are complex polysaccharides. The plant’s leaves were traditionally used to manage burning sensations and skin diseases.   It may have a skin-soothing and moisturising effect. The hibiscus mucilage extract contains glycerine, which may show the highest skin moisturising effect.8

There is a need for more studies to establish the positive effect of hibiscus on skin-related problems. Hibiscus should not be used to self-medicate without consulting a doctor.

5. Potential Uses of hibiscus for weight management

Hibiscus may have potential uses in weight management. In animal studies conducted by Hansawasdi et al. 2003, hibiscus tea showed blocking of sugars and starch absorption, which might benefit weight loss. The ability of hibiscus extract to maintain weight might be due to its polyphenols and flavonoids, which might decrease the accumulation of fat and, thus, maintain body weight.9

Unfortunately, these studies are insufficient and more studies are needed to support the potential use of hibiscus for weight loss management in humans. Therefore, consult a doctor before having hibiscus tea to keep a check on your weight.

6. Potential Uses of hibiscus for kidneys

The hibiscus extract may have a beneficial effect on kidneys. It might reduce serum triglycerides, total cholesterol, and lipids. hibiscus may be beneficial in lowering oxidative damage to kidneys. Consumption of hibiscus tea might produce a uricosuric effect that might be helpful in the excretion of uric acid through urine. This may benefit the deposition of calcium crystals in kidneys and thus, managing kidney stones.10

The information is not sufficient and further studies are required to support the potential use of hibiscus to overcome kidney-related issues in humans.

Other Potential Uses of hibiscus

  • Hibiscus tea may have benefits for dealing with high blood pressure.
  • Hibiscus may have beneficial properties to manage colds, toothaches, and urinary tract infections.
  • The leaf juice may be used to manage conjunctivitis.1

Though there are studies showing the benefits of hibiscus in various health conditions, these are insufficient, and there is a need for further studies to establish the true scope of benefits of hibiscus on human health. Every person may respond differently to hibiscus herbal preparations. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor before using hibiscus for any medical condition.

Also Read: Bael: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, and more!

How to Use Hibiscus? 

Various parts of hibiscus are used in the following ways:

  • Hibiscus edible seed oil is used as a substitute for castor oil and to produce scrubs and soaps.1,10
  • The flowers are widely used as organic herbal tea, and seeds are often a coffee substitute.1
  • Hibiscus leaves are used for culinary purposes. The raw leaves are considered a vegetable.1
  • Red calyces act as food colourants and dyes. Fresh or dried calyces are used to prepare herbal drinks, fermented drinks, wine, jam, jellies, ice cream, chocolates, flavouring agents, puddings, and cakes.1,3,10

People should consult a doctor before taking hibiscus herbal supplements. We recommend that you do not change or discontinue your ongoing medications with herbal preparations without consulting a qualified physician.

Side Effects of Hibiscus:

Before consuming any herb, one should consult an Ayurvedic physician because the herbs may have specific side effects. The side effects of hibiscus are as follows:

  • Hibiscus seeds might have anti-nutritional factors that may reduce nutrient uptake, minimise food digestion, decrease nutrient bioavailability and produce flatulence (gas). People having digestion problems must consult a doctor before using   hibiscus.3
  •   Various studies suggested that consumption at high doses for an extended period may cause liver injury. It may also lead to high blood pressure and sudden cardiac arrest.9,10
  • Patients with kidney problems should take advice from a doctor before having Hibiscus extract. When consumed at a higher amount, it can increase plasma creatinine levels, leading to muscular dysfunctionand loss of kidney function.10

However, if any such side effects are observed after having hibiscus, please get in touch with an Ayurvedic physician who advised you to have the herb. They will provide the appropriate treatment to overcome the side effects.

Also Read: Reetha: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Precautions to Take With Hibiscus: 

People should take precautions while consuming Hibiscus extract, specifically patients with heart and kidney-related diseases.9,10

1. Cardiac disorders

Patients with high blood pressure receiving non-potassium sparing diuretics (medicines that help excrete more urine and treat oedema) should take precautions. If the dose increases the prescribed amount, the diuretic effect of Hibiscus extract might exert pressure on the blood vessel, causing death caused by loss of heart function.8,10

2. Kidney dysfunction

Patients with kidney stones or kidney dysfunction should consult a doctor about using Hibiscus juice; consumption in high amounts may lead to high creatinine levels in the blood resulting in a loss of kidney functioning.10

3. Pregnancy

There is insufficient information about the safe use of hibiscus for pregnant women. It is better to take doctor’s advice during this condition.5

4. Children

The safety of taking hibiscus extract by lactating mothers is questionable because consumption during lactation might increase weight gain after birth and delay the onset of puberty in children. Lactating mothers should take advice from their doctor before using HIbiscus.10

If you are suffering from any disease condition, or suffer from specific allergies, consult your doctor about what foods and vegetables to avoid. Also, avoid consuming hibiscus for any health condition without consulting with a doctor first.

Interactions With Other Drugs:

Hibiscus juice, when administered together with any drug, may increase the side effects and toxicity and also lead to failure of the drug efficacy.9

When taken together with acetaminophen (paracetamol), Hibiscus sweetened water extract may interact with acetaminophen, resulting in the loss of drug efficacy.11 Also, suppose you are taking any medications. In that case, you need to consult with your doctor about the possible interactions of the drug with any vegetables or herbs. This will help you avoid possible interactions of medicines with any herb or vegetable.

Also Read: Ashwagandha: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Hibiscus tea?

Hibiscus Tea is a non-caffeinated herbal tea made from Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdaraffa L.). The tea is made from the dried fruit of the flower. The tea is red and tastes like berries.4

How to make hibiscus tea?

Hibiscus tea is made from the fruit calyx of hibiscus. Wash and air dry some calyces, crush them or make a fine powder. To make tea add the crushed calyces to a tea bag and let it steep for a couple of minutes in boiling water; add sugar or lemon juice if required. The tea is ready to serve hot or cold and can be stored in the refrigerator.4

What are the different common names of hibiscus?

There are several common names for hibiscus, such as Roselle, Jamaican sorrel, and Indian sorrel in English. In Urdu, it is called Rozelle hemp. In Hindi, it is known as Lalambari.1

What are the benefits of hibiscus for hair?

Mixing hibiscus powder with water and applying it to the hair might benefit hair health. Hibiscus consists of natural pigments, vitamins and antioxidants that may be useful for managing natural hair conditions.6 However, this information is insufficient. You should consult a doctor before using hibiscus for hair.

What vitamins are present in the hibiscus?

Hibiscus contains vitamin C, B1 (thiamin), B3 (niacin) and B2 (riboflavin).4


1. Solangi A, Siddiqui A, Junejo S, Younisarain M, Aslam Ansari M, Talpur A, et al. Roselle (Hibiscus Sabdariffa L.) A Multipurpose Medicinal Plant And Its Uses: A Review. Int J Biol Res. 2017 ;5(1):21–24. Available from: ROSELLE (HIBISCUS SABDARIFFA L.) A MULTIPURPOSE MEDICINAL PLANT AND ITS USES.pdf (ijbr.net)

2. Puro K, Sunjukta R, Samir S, Ghatak S, Shakuntala I, Sen A. Medicinal Uses of Roselle Plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.): A Mini Review. Issue 1 Indian J of Hill Farming . 2014 ;27(1):47-51. Available from: http://www.kiran.nic.in/pdf/IJHF/Vol27_1_new/9.%20MedicinalUsesofRosellePlant(Hibiscus%20sabdariffaL).pdf

3. Ismail A, Hainida E, Ikram K, Saadiah H, Nazri M. Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) Seeds-Nutritional Composition, Protein Quality and Health Benefits Global Science Books Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) Seeds-Nutritional Composition, Protein Quality and Health Benefits. 2008; 2(1):1-16. Available from: https://www.doc-developpement-durable.org/file/Culture/Arbres-Fruitiers/FICHES_ARBRES/bissap-hibiscus%20sabdariffa&cannabinus/roselle%20seeds.pdf

4. Singh P, Khan M, Hailemariam H. Nutritional and health importance of Hibiscus sabdariffa: a review and indication for research needs. 2017; 6(5):125-128. Available from: https://www.researchgate/links/59c64a92458515548f326de6/Nutritional-and-Health-Importance-of-Hibiscus-Sabdariffa-A-Review-and-Indication-for-Research-Needs.pdf

5. Jadhav V, Thorat R, Kadam V, Sathe N, Jadhav V. Traditional medicinal uses of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Journal of Pharmacy Research. 2009 [;2(8):1220-1222. Available from: https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

6. Shelke M, Parjane S, Mankar SD, Siddheshwar SS. Therapeutic potential of Hibiscusrosa sinensis – A Review. Res J of Sci and Techno. 2021 2(8);151–156. Available from: https://rjstonline.com/ 10.52711/2349-2988.2021.00023

7. Adhirajan N, Ravi Kumar T, Shanmugasundaram N, Babu M. In vivo and in vitro evaluation of hair growth potential of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Linn. J Ethno pharmacol . 2003 ;88(2–3):235–239. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12963149/

8. Kassakul W, Praznik W, Hongwiset D, Article O, Viernstein H, Phrutivorapongkul A, et al. Characterisation Of The Mucilages Extracted From Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis Linn And Hibiscus Mutabilis Linn And Their Skin Moisturizing Effect. Art in InterJ of Pharma and PharmaceuSci . 2014;6(11). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283121889

9. Ojulari V, Lee G, Nam O. Beneficial Effects of Natural Bioactive Compounds from Hibiscus sabdariffa L. on Obesity. 2019; 24(210):1-14. Available from: www.mdpi.com/journal/molecules

10. Da-Costa-Rocha I, Bonnlaender B, Sievers H, Pischel I, Heinrich M. Hibiscus sabdariffa L. – a phytochemical and pharmacological review. Food Chemistry. 2014 ;165:424–443. Available from: https://europepmc.org/article/med/25038696

11. Kolawole J, Maduenyi A. Effect of zobo drink (Hibiscus sabdariffa water extract) on the pharmacokinetics of acetaminophen in human volunteers. Eur J Drug Metab Pharmacokinet . 2004 ;29(1):25–29. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15151167/

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