Hibiscus (Fu Rong)
Botanical Name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, H. sabdariffa
Native to Angola, hibiscus has been used by North Africans to support respiratory health. Traditionally it has been used in Iran to support normal blood pressure levels, a function that modern science has confirmed. It is also well known for its abilities to help regulate cholesterol levels, treat sunstroke, and counter the effects of too much alcohol. The two varieties of hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and H. sabdariffa) have similar properties.
Watch a short video, from Ann Christensen, Founder and Creator of White Rabbit Institute of Healing™ – Are roselle and hibiscus the same?
Below is an overview of hibiscus, combining the best of Western Science, Oriental Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore, and a wide range of healing modalities. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of hibiscus.
How to take FULL advantage of Hibiscus's healing powers...
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Western Name: Hibiscus
Also Known As: Chinese Hibiscus, China Rose, Hawaiian Hibiscus, Rose Mallow, Shoeblackplant, Aqua de Jamaica, Orhul, Gul e Khatmi
Organs/Systems: Immune, Respiratory, Cardiovascular, Skin
Key Actions: Mild Laxative, Antispasmodic, Anti-inflammatory, Antibacterial, Anti-aging, Digestive, Heart Tonic, Anticancer
Medicinal Uses: Lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels, lowers blood pressure, increases the production of breast milk, supports immune health, aids weight loss, treats constipation, intestinal cramping, uterine cramping, inflammation, worms, urinary tract infections, leukorrhea, loose stools, colds, edema, nausea, loss of appetite, neuropathies, candida, diabetes.
Pin Yin: Fu Rong (H. rosa-sinensis)
Also Known As: Mei Gui Qie (Rosella flower buds / H. sabdariffa), Khrachiap Dang, Datchang, Tengamora
Meridians: Lung, Kidney
Key Actions: Relieves Coughing and Wheezing, Transforms Phlegm, Cools Summer Heat, Nourishes Spleen Qi, Promotes Body Fluids, Clears Toxins
Medicinal Uses: Coughs, colds and flu, wheezing, hypertension, hangovers, thirst due to heat, sunstroke, promotes urination, counteracts toxicity, promotes the production of body fluids, promotes appetite, supports the liver, used topically to treat shingles.
Basic Habitat / Botany:
Hibiscus is in the family Malvaceae. It is a bushy evergreen shrub. Its flowers vary from disc-shaped petals to showy double flowers, and from solid-color blossoms to contrasting-color centers.
Hibiscus sabdariffa (aka roselle) is native to Angola and West Africa. It is now cultivated throughout tropical and subtropical regions. Especially in Sudan, Egypt, Thailand, Mexico, and China. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is likely native to some parts of tropical Asia.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Flower, Flower Bud, Crushed Leaf
Flavors/Temps: Sour, Slightly Sweet, Cool, Warm
Caution: Hibiscus of either variety is considered safe. Not recommended in high doses for pregnant women as it can increase the flow of blood.
Key Constituents: Citric acid, Malic acid, tartaric acid, Hibiscus acid (Allo-hydroxycitric acid), Alkaloid, Anthocyanins, Quercetin, Vitamin C, Calcium, Chromium
History/Folklore: The two varieties of hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and H. sabdariffa) can be used interchangeably. They both have edible flowers and have similar medicinal properties.
Hibiscus (H. sabdariffa, aka roselle) has a long history of use in Egypt, Sudan, Iran, and North Africa for treating supporting respiratory function, improving heart health by managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, encouraging fluid balance, and improving circulation. In Africa, hibiscus flower tea has been used to treat constipation, cancer, liver disease. A pulp made from the leaves is used to apply to the skin to heal wounds.
The Ancient Egyptians used hibiscus to lower body temperature and treat nervous system disorders.
Hibiscus is a good treatment for sunstroke, hangovers, and can be used externally as a poultice to treat shingles.
Similar to cranberry, hibiscus extract can be used to treat bacterial and urinary tract infections. Compared to cranberry, hibiscus has a stronger antimicrobial effect, particularly against Candida albicans.
Hibiscus is an excellent source of Vitamin C, contributing to the herb’s antioxidant and immune-enhancing properties and making it an excellent tea or poultice for promoting healthy skin. Hibiscus is often an ingredient in skin and hair products.
The flower’s petals are edible and can be enjoyed either fresh or dried. They make a wonderful garnish for desserts.
In the Caribbean islands hibiscus (H. sabdariffa, aka roselle) is called sorrel. It is popularly used to make a cooling summer drink enjoyed on hot days. It is also a drink that is traditionally enjoyed during the Christmas season. It is known as Agua de Jamaica and is made by steeping the calyx of the plant, the plump, cup-like formation at the base of the flowers that contain the seed. Once harvested and the seeds have been removed, the calyces are used fresh or dried in teas, jams, and cordials.
The plants were brought to the Caribbean islands with the slave trade and their presence provided not only memories of home for the African slaves but were also a source of food and medicine that many slaves already knew how to make use of. It is theorized by food historians that hibiscus drinks became the basis of “red drinks” associated with Kool-Aid and other old-school carbonated red drinks. In Black cultures as a food and medicine hibiscus, and especially hibiscus drinks, are celebrated as a symbol of Black joy, culture, and survival.
In Africa, the hibiscus flower is a symbol of a perfect wife or woman. In Victorian times, it meant the giver was acknowledging the receiver’s delicate beauty. In China, the flower symbolizes the fleeting nature and beauty of fame or personal glory. The flower has traditionally been given to both men and women.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is known as China hibiscus or China rose. It is used in the Pacific Islands as an edible flower in salads and to make tea for washing the hair. In China, it is used as a hair dye. H. rosa-sinensis is the national flower of Malaysia.
In certain parts of India, the flowers are used to polish shoes. Its name in Indonesia literally translates as shoe flower. In India, it is also used in the worship of Devi (the female goddess) and plays an important role in tantric practices (breathing, yoga, and meditations that increase sexual and life force energies).
Hibiscus is the national flower of South Korea and Malaysia.
Hibiscus is an effective remedy for hangovers. It improves hydration and can help calm the digestive tract.
In Iran, where the herb has been traditionally used to support heart health by regulating blood pressure and cholesterol levels, a popular summer drink, “sour tea” is made from hibiscus and enjoyed by all. It can help treat sunstroke.
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