Reviewed by Michael Smith on March 20, 2017


MedlinePlus: "Hibiscus.", Scientific American: "What are the effects of alcohol on the brain?"

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ALEJANDRO: My abuelita drinks mezcal to lower her blood pressure. Actually, she always says, "For every ill, drink mezcal. And for everything good, drink mezcal as well." Can mezcal lower blood pressure?

JUAN RIVERA, MD: Andale abuelita! Go, abuelita! I hope you don't take your blood pressure "medicine" and drive! Mezcal is tequila's first cousin. It is a Mexican liquor made from agave. Definitely not for the faint-hearted! A Mexican friend once told me about mezcal: "Never drink less than two or more than three." He told me that while drinking his fourth, so go figure. ...

Our atomic abuelita here could potentially make the argument that having a drink of alcohol widens your blood vessels and that, in turn, lowers your blood pressure. True ... but I'm not about to recommend that you all start doing shots to improve your health.

In fact, it could have the opposite effect -- chronic alcohol use narrows your blood vessels, which can lead to high blood pressure. It can quickly go from a happy, dilated blood vessel to an angry, constricted one. Do you get it?

Let me give you a natural remedy that can help lower blood pressure: hibiscus tea or flor de Jamaica. And if you want the whole health benefit, yes, start rolling that "r" in flor-r-r, because it's part of the deal. Trust me.

Hibiscus is a plant believed to be native to Africa, and it has become very popular for its health-related benefits. The most studied is the plant's effect on blood pressure. They show that drinking hibiscus tea daily for 6 weeks is effective for lowering blood pressure -- enough to reduce overall cardiovascular risk.

If your blood pressure is running high, I definitely suggest that you try drinking hibiscus tea a few times a day. It is a safe, natural choice.

Please do not stop using your medications, and make sure to tell your doctor, too. As for our abuelita, I know that she will listen to me. Sure she will. Although she will probably sneak a drop or two of mezcal into her tea to spice things up.