The flowers of the hibiscus are mostly utilized in the preparation of herbal teas and juices, it is also used as a wholesome sweet and sour, caffeine free herbal health drink, but the most common use of the hibiscus is in the form of herbal tea mixtures and as a tasty and colorful additive in food preparations. The popularity that the tea enjoys in many parts of the world is therefore not necessarily due to the health properties attributed to the flowers. Even while, many cultures have traditionally used the herb in the treatment of appetite loss, in treating various colds, as well as in the treatment of catarrh affecting the respiratory tract, and in the treatment of various circulatory problems, as well as a gentle expectorant, and in the laxative and diuretic roles. At the same time, extracts made from the hibiscus flower are also included in many herbal ointments and herbal decoctions which are to be used as a topical application in the treatment of allergic problems and eczema, besides other skin problems affecting patients.
The particular species of hibiscus which is discussed here is a native of the African continent primarily the region of present day Angola. However, the plant is now cultivated in all tropical regions of the old world and in the neo-tropical realm as well. Major producers of this variety of hibiscus are countries along North Africa, Mexico in the new world, and India, Thailand and China in Asia.
Compounds such as organic anthocyanins and other plant pigments are found in the hibiscus, in addition, relatively large amounts of the oxalic, malic, citric-12% to 17%, and tartaric acids are also found. Lastly up to 28% of hibiscic acid - which is a lactone of a hydroxycitric acid, is also seen in hibiscus extracts. The tart and refreshing taste of the various hibiscus beverages and food products are induced by the presence of these organic plant compounds in the flowers of the hibiscus. At the same time, the mildly laxative and diuretic effects attributed to the hibiscus plant are also believed to be due to the presence of these compounds. The herb also contains very appreciable quantities of many water soluble mucilaginous polysaccharides in high proportions to the total volume. At least some of the many physiological effects attributed to the hibiscus are also believed to be influenced by these mucilaginous substances.
Dosage for the herbal hibiscus tea prepared using 1.5 g of the herb in a cup of boiling water can be about five to ten doses daily during the treatment regimen.