Hibiscus

The botanical name of this plant is Hibiscus Sabdariffa. Its common name is Roselle. Hibiscus plant has many varieties and is planted world-wide. There are over 100 cultivars or seed varieties of Hibiscus sabdariffa. The major commercial varieties are those grown in China, Thailand, Mexico and Africa, principally Sudan, Senegal and Mali and Egypt.

Its Arabic name is Karkade, which is exactly like the German name. It has many medicinal uses, together with the most appealing flavor as an herbal tea.

Hibiscus is a lovely annual flower with beautiful red flowers, commonly grown in flower gardens or indoor pots.

Hibiscus Flower
The flowers are not just for scenic pleasure, but have amazing flavoring qualities. In Africa, Karkade is the name given to a delicious hibiscus punch. It is also a great contribution to the popular rosehip tea giving it a lemony flavor and lovely red color.

Hibiscus sabdariffa is a member of the Malvaceae family. It is an annual herb that grows to 6 feet or more, stems are glabrous; lower leaves are ovate with the upper leaves being 3-5 palmately lobed. The flowers are axillary or in terminal racemes, the petals are white (or pink) with a reddish center at the base of the staminal column, the calyx enlargens at maturity and the fruit is fleshy and bright red. Its flowers are also light yellow, sometimes with pink, and a dark red eye, and they open, after growing through long, hot summers, when the days become shorter. The calyx becomes fleshy and enlarged creating a bright red, acid fruit of 1 ? inches. Hibiscus sabdariffa is very sensitive to changes in the length of day..

Sometimes, Roselle and an entirely different species, Hibiscus acetosella (Red Leaf Hibiscus, False Roselle, etc.), are mistaken for each other. Propagation is through its light brown, kidney-shaped seeds in the spring.

Most of the plant is used for different things.

The calyces are used to make cold and hot beverages in many of the world’s tropical and subtropical countries. In China the seeds are used for their oil and the plant is used for medicinal properties.

The aroma and taste of Hibiscus is slightly of berry-like aroma. It has a well balanced, tart and astringent flavor.

Medicinally, leaves are emollient, and are much used in Guinea as a diuretic, refrigerant, and sedative; fruits are antiscorbutic; leaves, seeds, and ripe calyces are diuretic and antiscorbutic; and the succulent calyx, boiled in water, is used as a drink in bilious attacks; the leaves and powdered seeds are eaten in West Africa. Philippines use the bitter root as an aperitive and tonic. Angolans use the mucilaginous leaves as an emollient and as a soothing cough remedy.

Hibiscus flower extract has been used in many folk remedies for liver disorders and high blood pressure.

The constituents of the flowers contain gossypetin, anthocyanin, and glucoside hibiscin, which may have diuretic and choleretic effects, decreasing the viscosity of the blood, reducing blood pressure and stimulating intestinal peristalsis. Karkade (dried-flowers minus-ovary) contains 13Percent of a mixture of citric and malic acid, two anthocyanins gossipetin (hydroxyflavone) and hibiscin, and 5Percent ascorbic acid. Petals yield the flavonal glucoside hibiscritin, which yields a crystalline aglycone?hibiscetin .Flowers contain phytosterols.

The dried flower contains hibiscic acid .Root contains saponins and tartaric acid. Aspartic acid is the most common amino acid. Dried fruits also contain vitamin C and Ca oxalate; dry petals contain flavonol glucoside hibiscitrin.

It is thought that the antioxidant chemicals, such as flavonoids, polyphenolics and anthocyanins, contained in the flower play a large role in preventing the oxidation of low density lipoproteins (the ?bad cholesterol?). This oxidation is what contributes to atherosclerosis, the build up of a waxy plaque on the walls of arteries.

Uses

Hibiscus has many medicinal uses, of which some are still under research as researchers are learning everyday more and more of its use.

It also serves as a very delicious beverage which is refreshing and beneficial.

The medicinal uses of Hibiscus were known from a long time ago. It has a major diuretic effect. Many Egyptian now use it to lower their blood pressure, an idea maybe taken from folk medicine.

It act as an antiseptic, aphrodisiac, astringent, cholagogue, demulcent, digestive, diuretic, emollient, purgative, refrigerant, resolvent, sedative, stomachic, and tonic.

Roselle is a folk remedy for abscesses, bilious conditions, cancer, cough, debility, dyspepsia, dysuria, fever, hangover, heart ailments, hypertension, neurosis, scurvy, and strangury.

Researchers now are doing studies to see if Hibiscus is indeed active in lowering blood cholesterol levels. This could be due to the high antioxidant content contained in the hibiscus extract that contributes to lowering low density lipoprotein levels in the blood.

Culinary uses

Roselle’s fruity flesh and cranberry-tasting juice produce a variety of different foods, including health foods, sauces, jellies, iced drinks, and herb teas.

Hibiscus is a source of a red beverage known as Karkade (jamaica in Mexico), which is said to contain citric acid and salts, serving as a diuretic.

Karkade is used in jams, jellies, sauces, syrup, gelatin, refreshing beverages, pudding, and cakes, and dried roselle is used for tea, jelly, marmalade, ices, ice-cream, sherbets, butter, pies, sauces, tarts, and other desserts.

Tender leaves and stalks are eaten as salad and as a pot-herb and are used for seasoning curries. Seeds have been used as an aphrodisiac coffee substitute. Fruits are edible.

Roselle is cultivated primarily for the bast fiber obtained from the stems. The fiber strands, up to 1.5 m long, are used for cordage.

Hibiscus is also used in soap making and bath tea bags.

Hibiscus red zinger tea, mixed with any number of other herbs. The flower is a good adddition to spicy salads, and it makes a fruity, fragrant smoke, both for meats and fish, and in a pipe.

Hibiscus tea does have a laxative effect due to its high content of poorly absorbable fruit acids.

Researchers have also found that extracts of Hibiscus leaf tend to slightly relax the uterus and reduce blood pressure, thus making it a rather relaxing smoking and sipping herb, especially for those with high blood pressure.

Source of a red beverage known as jamaica in Mexico (said to contain citric acid and salts, serving as a diuretic). Calyx, called karkade in Switzerland, a name not too different from the Arabic. Karkade is used in jams, jellies, sauces, and wines.

In the West indies and elsewhere in the Tropics the fleshy calyxes are used fresh for making roselle wine, jelly, syrup, gelatin, refreshing beverages, pudding, and cakes, and dried roselle is used for tea, jelly, marmalade, ices, ice-cream, sherbets, butter, pies, sauces, tarts, and other desserts. Calyxes are used in the West Indies to color and flavor rum. Tender leaves and stalks are eaten as salad and as a pot-herb and are used for seasoning curries.

Seeds have been used as an aphrodisiac coffee substitute. Fruits are edible (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962). Perry cites one study showing roselle’s usefulness in arteriosclerosis and as an intestinal antiseptic (Perry, 1980).

Roselle is cultivated primarily for the bast fiber obtained from the stems. The fiber strands, up to 1.5 m long, are used for cordage and as a substitute for jute in the manufacture of burlap.

Folk Medicine

Medicinally, leaves are emollient, and are much used in Guinea as a diuretic, refrigerant, and sedative; fruits are antiscorbutic; leaves, seeds, and ripe calyxes are diuretic and antiscorbutic; and the succulent calyx, boiled in water, is used as a drink in bilious attacks; flowers contain gossypetin, anthocyanin, and glucoside hibiscin, which may have diuretic and choleretic effects, decreasing the viscosity of the blood, reducing blood pressure and stimulating intestinal peristalsis. In Burma, the seed are used for debility, the leaves as emollient.

Taiwanese regard the seed as diuretic, laxative, and tonic. Philippines use the bitter root as an aperitive and tonic (Perry, 1980). Angolans use the mucilaginous leaves as an emollient and as a soothing cough remedy. Central Africans poultice the leaves on abscesses. Alcoholics might consider one item: simulated ingestion of the plant extract decreased the rate of absorption of alcohol, lessening the intensity of alcohol effects in chickens (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk).

Besides lowering high blood pressure and high cholesterol, this healthful hibiscus beverage has several characteristics that make it much more valuable than conventional teas…

– Hibiscus and hibiscus mint tea are caffeine free
– Hibiscus tea is also rich in Vitamin C
– Hibiscus tea has a unique, delicious taste
– Hibiscus tea has a smooth, pleasant fragrance
– Hibiscus tea has a distinctive, vibrant, natural color
– Hibiscus tea is great served hot or cold
– Hibiscus tea has long been known to act as a natural body refrigerant.

Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is a small tree with bright red flowers that are rich in flavonoids, minerals, and other nutrients. The flowers have a fruity taste that makes hibiscus popular as both hot and cold tea. Studies have demonstrated that they have a diuretic property and have also found mild blood vessel?dilating effects. Several trials using hibiscus extracts have suggested that hibiscus can lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.

The current study evaluated 70 people with mild to moderate hypertension who were otherwise healthy and had not received treatment for at least one month before entering the trial. Participants were randomly assigned to drink one-half liter (approximately 16 ounces) of hibiscus tea before breakfast each day or to take 25 mg of an antihypertensive medication (captopril) twice a day for four weeks. The tea was made from a hibiscus extract standardized to contain a specified amount of flavonoids known as anthocyanins. Blood pressure was measured at the beginning of the study and weekly during the study. After four weeks, the effectiveness of the two treatments was statistically similar: diastolic blood pressure (the lower number of a blood pressure reading) was reduced by at least ten points in 79Percent of the people receiving hibiscus and 84Percent of those receiving captopril.

The results of this study demonstrate that a tea made from a standardized hibiscus flower extract can reduce blood pressure in people with mild to moderate hypertension. Hibiscus flowers might have several components and properties that contribute to its blood pressure?lowering effect. The antioxidants in hibiscus could add to its cardiovascular benefits by protecting blood vessels and heart muscle from oxidative damage. Furthermore, its safety and low potential for causing negative side effects make hibiscus an attractive alternative to antihypertensive medications.

Food Uses

Roselle fruits are best prepared for use by washing, then making an incision around the tough base of the calyx below the bracts to free and remove it with the seed capsule attached. The calyces are then ready for immediate use.They may be merely chopped and added to fruit salads. In Africa, they are frequently cooked as a side-dish eaten with pulverized peanuts. For stewing as sauce or filling for tarts or pies, they may be left intact, if tender, and cooked with sugar. The product will be almost indistinguishable from cranberry sauce in taste and appearance. For making a finer-textured sauce or juice, sirup, jam, marmalade, relish, chutney or jelly, the calyces may be first chopped in a wooden bowl or passed through a meat grinder. Or the calyces, after cooking, may be pressed through a sieve. Some cooks steam the roselle with a little water until soft before adding the sugar, then boil for 15 minutes.

Roselle sauce or sirup may be added to puddings, cake frosting, gelatins and salad dressings, also poured over gingerbread, pancakes, waffles or ice cream. It is not necessary to add pectin to make a firm jelly. In fact, the calyces possess 3.19Percent pectin and, in Pakistan, roselle has been recommended as a source of pectin for the fruit-preserving industry.

Juice made by cooking a quantity of calyces with 1/4 water in ratio to amount of calyces, is used for cold drinks and may be frozen or bottled if not for immediate needs. In sterilized, sealed bottles or jars, it keeps well providing no sugar has been added. In the West Indies and tropical America, roselle is prized primarily for the cooling, lemonade-like beverage made from the calyces. This is still “one of the most popular summer drinks of Mexico”, as Rose observed in 1899. In Egypt, roselle “ade” is consumed cold in the summer, hot in winter. In Jamaica, a traditional Christmas drink is prepared by putting roselle into an earthenware jug with a little grated ginger and sugar as desired,pouring boiling water over it and letting it stand overnight. The liquid is drained off and served with ice and often with a dash of rum. A similar spiced drink has long been made by natives of West Tropical Africa. The juice makes a very colorful wine.

John Ripperton of the Hawaiian Experiment Station maintained that, for jelly and wine-making, it is unnecessary to take out the seed capsule, but neglecting to do so may result in a “stringy” product which would be contaminated with the minute hairs from the surface of the capsule and these hairs are quite likely to be injurious unless carefully filtered out.

The calyces are either frozen or dried in the sun or artificially for out-of-season supply, marketing or export. In Mexico today, the dried calyces are packed for sale in imprinted, plastic bags. It is calculated that 11 lbs (5 kg) of fresh calyces dehydrate to 1 lb (0.45 kg) of dried roselle, which is equal to the fresh for most culinary purposes. However, dried calyces as sold for “tea” do not yield high color and flavor if merely steeped; they must be boiled.

For retailing in Africa, dried roselle is pressed into solid cakes or balls. In Senegal, the dried calyces are squeezed into great balls weighing 175 lbs (80 kg) for shipment to Europe, where they are utilized to make extracts for flavoring liqueurs. In the United States, Food and Drug Administration regulations permit the use of the extracts in alcoholic beverages.

The young leaves and tender stems of roselle are eaten raw in salads or cooked as greens alone or in combination with other vegetables or with meat or fish. They are also added to curries as seasoning. The leaves of green roselle are marketed in large quantities in Dakar, West Africa. The juice of the boiled and strained leaves and stems is utilized for the same purposes as the juice extracted from the calyces. The herbage is apparently mostly utilized in the fresh state though Wester proposed that it be evaporated and compressed for export from the Philippines.

The seeds are somewhat bitter but have been ground to a meal for human food in Africa and have also been roasted as a substitute for coffee. The residue remaining after extraction of oil by parching, soaking in water containing ashes for 3 or 4 days, and then pounding the seeds, or by crushing and boiling them, is eaten in soup or blended with bean meal in patties. It is high in protein.

Food Value

Nutritionists have found roselle calyces as sold in Central American markets to be high in calcium, niacin, riboflavin and iron.

Food Value Per 100 g of Edible Portion

Calyces, fresh*  
Moisture 9.2 g
Protein 1.145 g
Fat 2.61 g
Fiber 12.0 g
Ash 6.90 g
Calcium 1,263 mg
Phosphorus 273.2 mg
Iron 8.98 mg
Carotene 0.029 mg
Thiamine 0.117 mg
Riboflavin 0.277 mg
Niacin 3.765 mg
Ascorbic Acid 6.7 mg

*Analyses made in Guatemala
.

Leaves, fresh**  
Moisture 86.2Percent
Protein 1.7-3.2Percent
Fat 1.1Percent
Carbohydrates 10Percent
Ash 1Percent
Calcium 0.18Percent
Phosphorus 0.04Percent
Iron 54Percent
Malic Acid 1.25Percent

*Analyses made in the Philippines.
 

Seeds  
Moisture 12.9Percent
Protein 3.29Percent
Fatty Oil 16.8Percent
Cellulose 16.8Percent
Pentosans 15.8Percent
Starch 11.1Percent

Amino acids (N = 16
p. 100 According to Busson)*< /strong >

Arginine 3.6
Cystine 1.3
Histidine 1.5
Isoleucine 3.0
Leucine 5.0
Lysine 3.9
Methionine 1.0
Phenylalanine 3.2
Threonine 3.0
Tryptophan
Tyrosine 2.2
Valine 3.8
Aspartic Acid 16.3
Glutamic Acid 7.2
Alanine 3.7
Glycine 3.8
Proline 5.6
Serine 3.5

*Calyces, fresh

The dried calyces contain the flavonoids gossypetine, hibiscetine and sabdaretine. The major pigment, formerly reported as hibiscin, has been identified as daphniphylline. Small amounts of delphinidin 3-monoglucoside,cyanidin 3-monoglucoside (chrysanthenin), and delphinidin are also present. Toxicity is slight.

Other Uses

The seeds are considered excellent feed for chickens. The residue after oil extraction is valued as cattle feed when available in quantity.

Medicinal Uses: In India, Africa and Mexico, all above-ground parts of the roselle plant are valued in native medicine. Infusions of the leaves or calyces are regarded as diuretic, cholerectic, febrifugal and hypotensive, decreasing the viscosity of the blood and stimulating intestinal peristalsis. Pharmacognosists in Senegal recommend roselle extract for lowering blood pressure. In 1962, Sharaf confirmed the hypotensive activity of the calyces and found them antispasmodic, anthelmintic and antibacterial as well. In 1964, the aqueous extract was found effective against Ascaris gallinarum in poultry. Three years later, Sharaf and co-workers showed that both the aqueous extract and the coloring matter of the calyces are lethal to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In experiments with domestic fowl, roselle extract decreased the rate of absorption of alcohol and so lessened its effect on the system. In Guatemala, roselle “ade” is a favorite remedy for the aftereffects of drunkenness.

In East Africa, the calyx infusion, called “Sudan tea”, is taken to relieve coughs. Roselle juice, with salt, pepper, asafetida and molasses, is taken as a remedy for biliousness.

The heated leaves are applied to cracks in the feet and on boils and ulcers to speed maturation. A lotion made from leaves is used on sores and wounds. The seeds are said to be diuretic and tonic in action and the brownish-yellow seed oil is claimed to heal sores on camels. In India, a decoction of the seeds is given to relieve dysuria, strangury and mild cases of dyspepsia and debility. Brazilians attribute stomachic, emollient and resolutive properties to the bitter roots.

One thought on “Hibiscus

  1. hi am very much interested in knowing about the benefits of hibiscus.
    i live in uganda and ma father was disgonised with cancer of the larynx,so i would like to know if it could help hin in any way.
    thanks,fiona

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