All Hail Hibiscus!



123rf.com/ Yuri Minaev

July brings visions of hanging out by the pool with friends, barbecues and big pitchers of ice-cold iced tea. There are some amazing herbs that can be used to create delicious and healthful tea blends, and hibiscus is at the top of the list.

Hibiscus has long been consumed by people all over the planet (specifically in warmer climates) as both a delicious drink and a potent medicine to treat a variety of illnesses. Did you know it can have amazing health benefits, especially for cardiovascular imbalances? There has been growing interest within the scientific community, and research studies, especially in the area of blood pressure and the circulatory system, are proving this out. It is said that regular consumption of hibiscus flower may help lower the chance of heart disease.

Hibiscus flowers are rich in antioxidants (help protect the cells from free radical damage), vitamins (especially vitamin C) and a huge host of minerals. An eight-ounce cup of hibiscus tea has about the same amount of vitamin C as an orange. This beautiful flower has traditionally been used for a host of imbalances. Here is a list of some things it’s used for:

  • Promoting an emmenagogue effect (stimulates menstrual flow) and helping women with irregular periods.
  • In a shampoo or rinse for graying hair.
  • As a cooling drink to help maintain body temperature in hot climates (perhaps helpful with menopause and hot flashes?).
  • To support and/or boost the immune system.
  • Controlling cholesterol.
  • Reducing blood pressure.
  • As a diuretic to increase the flow of urination.

Herbalist and Mayan healer Rosita Arvigo has just one thing to say to doctors in this country: “You have forgotten your roots. And not only your roots,” she adds, “but also your leaves, twigs, flowers and stems. Red hibiscus is the midwife's most important remedy for postpartum bleeding. Five open flowers, four closed flowers and nine of these leaves in a cup of water. Boil it for five minutes, let it cool and drink it. But the flowers have to be red. Red pigments in plants generally contain iron, and it's plausible that iron-rich pigments might work better for disorders of the blood—which, after all, is itself red because of the iron in hemoglobin.”

Because hibiscus flower makes for such a nice tea, we are able to consume it more freely. In fact, traditional dosage is about three to four cups daily. Hibiscus flower can be a bit tart, so we usually either mix it with other delicious herbs or add a bit of honey to soften the taste. Here are two ways to enjoy your hibiscus tea.

Cooling Hibiscus Tea

8 cups water

3 oz dried hibiscus flower

2-4 cinnamon sticks

Fresh slices of orange

Pinch of Stevia (sweet herb) optional

  • Put water in nonaluminum pot and bring to a gentle simmer.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients.
  • Cover pot and let simmer gently about 10 minutes.
  • If you did not add Stevia to pot, then you can add some local honey while the tea is still warm.
  • Take off heat and let steep two hours or overnight.
  • Strain into glass jar and store in refrigerator.
  • Drink and enjoy!

Note: When brewed as a tea, the flower produces a deep, rich raspberry color and a slightly bitter flavor (like cranberry).

 

Heart-Healthy Hibiscus Tea Blend

8 cups water

2 oz hawthorn berries

1 oz hibiscus flower

1 tsp dried orange peel

1 tsp lemon or lime peel

1 tsp dried ginger root

Pinch of Stevia (sweet herb) optional

  • Put water and 8 teaspoons tea blend in nonaluminum pot, cover and bring to simmer.
  • Take off heat and let sit to infuse for a couple of hours, or, better yet, overnight.
  • Strain off herbs.
  • Pour over ice and enjoy.
  • Store the rest of tea in refrigerator.

When you live in the hot desert heat, then summer is the perfect time to cool the body down with hibiscus tea. Stay cool and enjoy.

Kathleen Gould, registered herbalist, and Madalyn Johnson are proprietors of SW Herb Shop and Gathering Place. Gould has been an herbalist for 30-plus years and has extensive experience in herbal medicine. For more information, call 480-694-9931 or visit

SWHerb.com or Store.SWHerb.com.

 

 

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