Hibiscus has been used for a long time in folk medicine, mainly in cleansing the body of toxins, since it stimulates the metabolism, showing a mild laxative and diuretic effect, preventing the accumulation of water in the body.
The hibiscus, better known as Jamaica flower, is a world-famous plant for the delicious and refreshing tea that is prepared with its leaves and flowers, however, this beautiful flower hides many more health benefits inside.
From alleviating digestive disorders to working as a natural anxiolytic, hibiscus offers numerous therapeutic applications for different areas of our body.
Without a doubt, hibiscus is a wonder of nature that is worth knowing and consuming.
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What is hibiscus?
The Jamaica or hibiscus is an annual growth plant with a cylindrical red stem and smooth texture. It can grow up to 2.5 meters tall and its leaves are green with small red veins. Its flowers are an intense yellow color that reddens towards the center, and turns pink at the end of the day when the flower fades.
The cultivation of this plant extends to tropical regions of Asia such as India, Thailand and Senegal; towards the east in Egypt and towards America in the United States, Panama and Mexico. It is known in different countries with native names such as roselle, sorrel, guinea sorrel, karkade and others, although its scientific name is Hibiscus sabdariffa.
Its origin is in Africa, where it is highly cultivated to make cold infusions to refresh the intense heat or to flavor carbonated drinks. However, it is also widely used by gardeners and florists as an ornamental plant due to its great beauty and intense color.
Recently there has been a greater interest in its cultivation as a medicinal plant due to its many beneficial and curative properties.
Chemical characteristics of hibiscus
Currently, thanks to studies and research, it is known that the phytochemicals present in plants can be used in the field of medicine and pharmaceuticals.
When chemically analyzing the Jamaica flower, high levels of phytosterols were found, natural substances that have a very positive impact on the human body. In addition, it contains a large number of flavonoids, carbohydrates and glycosides.
Its high protein (33%) and caloric content (24% carbohydrates, 22% fat) make it a great source of food. In addition, the Jamaica flower contains minerals in high concentrations such as iron (88 mg / 100 mg), calcium (1.28%), selenium (0.09 mg / kg), magnesium (442 mg / 100 g), among others.
Medicinal uses of hibiscus
In the field of traditional medicine, the positive therapeutic effects of Jamaica flower on health have been recognized with very few side effects. Through studies it was shown that hibiscus tea can reduce hypertension, it was also appreciated how it can work as a diuretic for its antibacterial properties.
Although empirically, in Nigeria Jamaica is used as a laxative and treatment for constipation. Its flowers and fruits are prepared as pharmaceutical infusions to relieve bronchitis and cough.
Jamaica tea infusions are also recommended as coffee substitutes for people with diseases of the nerves, the heart, blood pressure, hepatitis and calcification of the arteries.
Likewise, it has been proven that the extracts of these flowers and fruits have antimicrobial properties, relax the uterine muscle, act as antioxidants, and exert anticancer actions in the body.
Studies have shown that hibiscus or Jamaica tea can lower LDL cholesterol, known as ‘bad cholesterol’. It is believed that the pigment that gives the characteristic color to tea is what causes the decrease in LDL cholesterol.
Hibiscus tea is known worldwide as an effective blood sugar reducer; however, this has been found to only happen in type II diabetes patients.
Experts believe that this is so because it focuses on improving affected kidney function in these patients. In any case, it is proven that it is the polyphenols present in Jamaica that give it this property.
Improves liver function
Thanks to its large number of antioxidants, Jamaica tea is an effective liver protector and an excellent adjuvant in liver disease. These antioxidants “trap” the agents responsible for liver oxidation, free radicals.
Pain reliever for menstrual cramps
This property is well known in Central America, where it is very common to drink hot hibiscus tea to reduce menstrual pain. This tea has a special effect compared to other infusions because it is able to level the levels of estrogen that increase dramatically during menstruation.
Antidepressant and anxiolytic
This property is also related to the fact that hibiscus tea regulates estrogen levels.
It is internationally known as a good treatment for depression in women. It works better compared to other anxiolytics since it does not exert a sedative effect on the patient.
Other facts about hibiscus
Hibiscus extract is used as a natural food coloring, emulsions for beverages, and in the preparation of jams and jellies. It also gives them a very pleasant sour taste.
Jamaica is also used in the production of ropes and baskets for its great fiber.
Large quantities of good quality oil can be extracted from the Jamaican seed. The tender leaves and stems of hibiscus are used to make soups and sauces. The hibiscus calyxes are cooked as substitutes for meat.