Drinking hibiscus tea can significantly reduce blood pressure among people with increased risk of cardiovascular and kidney disease, according to new research presented at the annual conference of the American Heart Association.
High blood pressure is a dangerous condition, which triples the risk of heart failure and is responsible for 60% of all strokes. The condition is very common in the developed world, one in three people in the UK suffer from high blood pressure.
Researcher Diane McKay and her colleagues conducted a study of 65 people aged between 30 and 70 years, with high blood pressure, placing them at increased risk for kidney disease, heart attack and stroke. Respondents had to drink hibiscus tea or a placebo three times a day for six weeks.
At the end of the study, blood pressure levels dropped an average of 7, 2% in the group of drinkers hibiscus, compared with only 1, 3% in the placebo group. Some patients in the Hibiscus tea actually had 13, 2% drop in blood pressure.
"Hibiscus is the most promising herb for the treatment of blood pressure" said alternative medicine expert Andrew Wells. "Studies have found that people who drank two cups of hibiscus tea daily for four weeks lowered their blood pressure by 12% - results similar to those for conventional blood pressure medication. "
Scientists do not know exactly what compounds in hibiscus contribute to its protective effect, but these flowers are known to contain chemicals known as anthocyanins, which improve the functioning of blood vessels and strengthen the collagen protein, which helps to create the structure of cells and tissues, including blood vessels.
Anthocyanins and other components of tea from Hibiscus are also known to act as antioxidants, cleansing the body of dangerous free radicals, which are linked to heart disease, cancer and signs of aging.
Beverages made from or flavored with hibiscus are very popular in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.