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Overview Information

Hibiscus is a plant. The flowers and other parts of the plant are used to make medicine.

People use hibiscus for conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, increasing the production of breast milk, infections, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.

How does it work?

The fruit acids in hibiscus may work like a laxative. Some researchers think that other chemicals in hibiscus might be able to lower blood pressure; reduce levels of sugar and fats in the blood; decrease spasms in the stomach, intestines, and uterus; reduce swelling; and work like antibiotics to kill bacteria and worms.


Uses & Effectiveness?

Possibly Effective for

  • High blood pressure. Most early research shows that drinking hibiscus tea for 2-6 weeks decreases blood pressure by a small amount in people with normal or slightly high blood pressure. Some early research shows that drinking hibiscus tea might be as effective as the prescription drugs captopril and more effective than the drug hydrochlorothiazide for reducing blood pressure in people with slightly high blood pressure.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Abnormal cholesterol levels. Some early research shows that drinking hibiscus tea or taking hibiscus extract by mouth can lower levels of cholesterol and other blood fats in people with metabolic disorders such as diabetes. However, other research shows that hibiscus does not improve cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol.
  • Bladder infections (urinary tract infections). Early research has found that people with urinary catheters living in long-term care facilities who drink hibiscus tea have a 36% lower chance of having a urinary tract infection compared to those not drinking tea.
  • Colds.
  • Constipation.
  • Fluid retention.
  • Heart disease.
  • Irritated stomach.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nerve disease.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate hibiscus for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

Hibiscus is LIKELY SAFE for most people in when consumed in food amounts. It is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately in medicinal amounts. The possible side effects of hibiscus are not known.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Hibiscus is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth as a medicine. Side effects of hibiscus are uncommon but might include temporary stomach upset or pain, gas, constipation, nausea, painful urination, headache, ringing in the ears, or shakiness.

Diabetes: Hibiscus might decrease blood sugar levels. The dose of your diabetes medications might need to be adjusted by your healthcare provider.

Low blood pressure: Hibiscus might lower blood pressure. In theory, taking hibiscus might make blood pressure become too low in people with low blood pressure.

Surgery: Hibiscus might affect blood sugar levels, making blood sugar control difficult during and after surgery. Stop using hibiscus at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.



Minor Interaction

Be watchful with this combination

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) interacts with HIBISCUS

    Drinking a hibiscus beverage before taking acetaminophen might increase how fast your body gets rid of acetaminophen. But more information is needed to know if this is a big concern.



The following doses have been studied in scientific research:



  • For high blood pressure: Hibiscus tea made by adding 1.25-10 grams or 150 mg/kg of hibiscus to 150 mL to 500 mL of boiling water has been used. The tea is steeped for 10-30 minutes and taken one to three times daily for 2-6 weeks.

View References


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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
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