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Hibiscus – Ayurveda’s Beautiful Remedy

The Hibiscus is a beautiful plant with its glossy bright green leaves and deep red flowers. The plant species name is “rosa-sinensis” which means, “Chinese rose.” It is also called “shoe flower” because the flowers were traditionally used to polish shoes in Jamaica and some African countries! In India, the Hibiscus is considered an auspicious flower, and it is used in Hindu religious ceremonies to worship the Goddess. The Ancient Indian system of medicine, Ayurveda has also recognized the importance of the plant to treat and prevent a variety of medical conditions. In Kerala, where the Hibiscus grows in profusion in almost every garden, the “chembaratti” as it is called, has been a part of everyday life for generations… and with good reason.

All Round Goodness

Every part of the Hibiscus is beneficial. The mucilaginous leaves are emollient and also act as a soothing cough remedy. The extracts of the flowers are used for treatment of high blood pressure and liver disorders. The herbal tea of Hibiscus contains vitamin C, which helps fight cold and cough… In short, the medicinal benefits of this herb are amazing and it is believed to purify the body both physically and spiritually.

In Ayurveda, Hibiscus is known as one of the best secrets to beautiful and healthy hair. Hibiscus promotes hair growth, stops hair fall, gives hair a healthy luster with bounce, and delays premature graying. Coconut oil, boiled with Hibiscus flowers, curry leaves and  gooseberry is an age-old recipe for lustrous long tresses. You can also take the flowers of hibiscus, squeeze out the juice and apply it to your scalp and hair. Wash after 45 minutes with a mild shampoo made from the gel squeezed from hibiscus leaves. This shampoo is so mild that it can be even be used for babies. Hibiscus extract promotes even tone and texture to skin affected by cellulite. Traditional use of the flowers and leaves in India include burning them in ghee to produce a black dye used to darken eyes and eyebrows.

Medical Benefits

In Ayurvedic medicine, the Hibiscus flower and leaf extracts are used to regulate the menstrual cycle and to treat problems related to the menstrual cycle in women. The extracts are used to induce abortion and to help in childbirth. At the same time, Hibiscus flowers are reported to possess anti-fertility properties too, and an extract from the hibiscus flower is used in preventing unwanted pregnancies, Other uses of this plant are for the treatment of headaches, boils, sores and inflammations The root yields a drug which Ayurveda believes to be useful in treating venereal disease.

One of the most popular uses of Hibiscus is as Hibiscus Tea. It is an excellent remedy for many disorders as well as a preventive. Hibiscus Tea contains Anthocyanins which are the pigments that are responsible for the hibiscus’ red color and the production of antioxidants. It also contains fruit acids, amino acids, vitamins and bioflavonoids which are beneficial to good health. Hibiscus tea has the ability to lower blood pressure, especially in patients with mild to moderate hypertension. It contains an enzyme inhibitor which acts to block amylase production. Amylase is an enzyme which breaks down starches into sugars. The amylase inhibitor found in hibiscus tea will reduce the amount of sugars that are absorbed into the body, thus resulting in weight loss. The antioxidants found in hibiscus tea have been compared to red wine, which has positive effects on cardiac health.

However, there are certain precautions that must be observed too. People with low blood pressure should not take Hibiscus extracts. It can also affect your concentration, hence it should not be used while driving and wherever alertness is needed. Hibiscus should be avoided while taking anti-cancer drugs. Yet, generally speaking there is no doubt that the Hibiscus, the Queen of Tropical Shrubs, is Ayurveda’s secret for beauty and good health.