The hibiscus plant, or Hibiscus sabdariffa, may be best known for its bright, beautiful blossoms, which naturally transport the imagination to a warm, tropical paradise. These bold, delicate flowers have commonly been enjoyed for their decorative beauty and used in sacred devotional ceremonies, but their generous offerings don’t end there. The hibiscus flower also carries a soothing, purifying, and healing energy that makes it a precious and powerful herbal ally.
Commonly known as “roselle” or “red sorrel,” the hibiscus plant is a part of the Malvaceae family, which also includes hollyhock, okra, and cotton. While there are over 300 species of hibiscus, this particular type, Hibiscus sabdariffa, holds a special place among Ayurvedic herbs.
Hibiscus is an annual that thrives in warm, tropical, or subtropical climates, with plenty of sunlight, heat, and humidity. This branching shrub can grow up to an impressive nine feet and produces striking red flowers, which is the part Banyan harvests.
In addition to its aesthetic beauty and traditional role in sacred ceremonies, hibiscus offers a long list of physical benefits for many different systems and tissues in the body:2,3,4
- Promotes healthy hair growth
- Supports healthy skin and a clear complexion
- Removes excess heat from the body
- Supports proper function of the kidneys
- Supports the female reproductive system
- Helps maintain healthy weight
- Supports the health of the liver
- Promotes the healthy function of the heart
- Supports healthy circulation
- Promotes healthy blood pressure levels already in the normal range
- Helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels already within the normal range
Uses of Hibiscus in Ayurveda
A common name for Hibiscus in Ayurvedic texts is Japa. Hibiscus is widely known for its attractive flowers which lack fragrance.
Hibiscus belongs to the Malvaceae family, and its scientific name is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. It is an evergreen plant which is approximately 150-270 cm in height. It has strong branches and trunk; the leaves are dark green, shiny, smooth, and oval-shaped.
This plant does not bear any fruit. Flowers are found in various shades e.g. red, white, yellow, and orange. Red hibiscus flowers are very common and widely used for medicinal purposes.
The bark, leaves and flowers are known to possess medicinal properties.
Hibiscus and Hair Health
Hibiscus promotes hair growth and prevents premature hair greying by reducing excessive body heat, stimulating blood circulation to the scalp, and increasing the supply of essential nutrients to the hair follicles.
Intellectuals with a Pitta-predominant constitution and people into the work habit of staying awake during late nights tends to lose their hair due to excess heat trapped under the skin. Hibiscus tea helps regulate that excess heat and balance Pitta.
Hibiscus Hair Oil
There are various preparation methods of hair oil such as:
Boil hibiscus flowers and fenugreek seeds in coconut oil. Cool, strain and store in a bottle. Use this oil regularly to massage the scalp.
Grind hibiscus leaves and flowers to paste and mix with virgin coconut oil. Simmer together on low heat until the water content disappears. Filter and then store in a clean glass bottle.
An application of the paste of tender and fresh hibiscus leaves with water heals skin problems of the scalp such as itching, burning, etc.
Hibiscus Hair Wash
Soak 10 hibiscus flower petals in 500 ml (2 cups) of water overnight.
The next morning squeeze the flowers with your hands and remove from the solution.
Apply the filtered liquid to your hair.
Cover your hair with a shower cap.
Rinse with warm water after 20 minutes.
Treat Alopecia with Hibiscus
Alopecia, also known as baldness, is a serious concern for many people, especially young ones. Baldness can be due to numerous reasons which remain unspecified to this day. It manifests as severe hair loss, causing patches to appear on the scalp.
According to Ayurveda, hair roots get damaged due to excessive body heat. To treat this condition, make paste of 6-8 leaves and flowers of hibiscus and apply it on the head (the affected parts of the scalp in particular). Leave the mask for 3 hours and wash with lukewarm water. Repeat this twice a week. It helps to re-open the pores, provides nourishment to the scalp, and promotes hair growth.
Hibiscus is Good for Controlling Pitta Diseases
Hibiscus flowers taste madhura (sweet) and kashayam (astringent). They are cold in terms of potency and can reduce aggravated Pitta and balance Kapha.
Due to their Pitta-pacifying action and raktastambhak (anti-hemorrhagic) properties, hibiscus flowers are widely used in the treatment of pimples, bleeding disorders, or bleeding gums. They are good for the heart and effective in lowering blood pressure.
Hibiscus is widely used in gynecological conditions such as excessive menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia, polymenorrhea, polymenorrhagia, and metrorrhagia). Ayurveda refers to this condition as Raktapradar.
Hibiscus is also useful in the treatment of painful menstruation. Hemorrhoids, urinary disorders e.g. UTI, insomnia and skin disorders are other areas where it can be used.
Hibiscus and Anemia
Anemia is a disorder whereby the level of hemoglobin decreases mainly due to a lack of iron in the blood. Hibiscus naturally helps to increase iron and pacify the excess heat (Pitta) in the blood.
Add 5 hibiscus petals to a glass of boiling water. After 2 minutes of boiling, remove from the heat. Strain and let cool to warm. Add organic sugar if desired.
If Hibiscus flowers are not easily available, 1 teaspoon of dried flower powder can be used.
After several months of regular use, body heat will restore its balance. Any blood loss in the past will get corrected and the blood level will be raised without any side effects.
If advised by your Ayurveda expert, cumin may be added to the hibiscus tea.
Hibiscus as Natural Hormone-Balancing Remedy
Drinking hibiscus tea can help alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes. Its Pitta-pacifying properties, cold potency and ability to balance excess heat in the blood make hibiscus a natural remedy for hormone balance during menopause.
In case of depression and mood swings during menopause, take white hibiscus petals and boil them for 3-4 minutes. Take one cup of the decoction per day. By balancing the hormones naturally, hibiscus helps overcome mood swings and mental weakness.
Hibiscus and Skin
Hibiscus heals swollen areas and other types of skin problems such as itching, burning, etc. Prepare paste of tender and fresh hibiscus leaves by grinding them with water. Apply the paste on swollen areas. Relief can be expected in several minutes.
Acne: Add hibiscus powder or paste of fresh hibiscus blossoms to your face masks to have clear and radiant skin. Hibiscus extract has been shown to function as an anti-solar agent by absorbing ultraviolet radiation, reducing signs of aging topically.
Hibiscus as a Natural Cooling Agent
Hibiscus tea can have a cooling, diuretic effect on the body. It also benefits the liver and helps alleviate constipation. Hibiscus’ sweet taste, cold potency and astringent properties provide cooling relief from the summer heat. Hibiscus cools your liver and reduces the heat of the blood by purging hot bile from the gall bladder. With its high antioxidant levels, hibiscus reduces low-grade systemic inflammation when the lymphatic system is congested.
Hibiscus and Hypertension
Hibiscus is a traditional remedy for high blood pressure due to its diuretic action and blood-thinning properties. If hot temper and excess heat are causing build-up in pressure, hibiscus can neutralize the heat, detoxify the liver and bile, fight inflammation and lymphatic congestion, improve blood circulation, and lower blood pressure naturally. A cup of hibiscus tea per day is enough.
Hibiscus and Metabolism
The astringent and cooling properties of hibiscus calm an overheated stomach, reducing your appetite to natural levels. The diuretic and blood-thinning qualities of hibiscus will help you get a smaller waistline and improve your mood.