February 15, 2022/Nutrition

7 Benefits of Hibiscus Tea

From antioxidants to anti-inflammatory effects, a dietitian explains all

A glass of iced hibiscus tea with lemon slices

Think hibiscus is just a colorful decoration for your garden? It might be time to reconsider. The tropical flowering plant, Hibiscus sabdariffa, may provide some health benefits, too.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

And it tastes delicious. The fruity flavor of hibiscus is tangy and sweet, making it perfect for tea. Registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD, LD, shares several ways hibiscus can contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

Is hibiscus good for you?

For centuries, people have used hibiscus seeds, flowers, leaves and stems in food and traditional medicine. Today, you can find hibiscus-flavored jams, jellies, sauces, syrups and teas throughout the world.

The ingredient is especially popular in Western Africa, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Also known as roselle or sorrel, it’s been used to treat everything from high blood pressure to indigestion.

Modern science also supports the idea that this time-tested remedy offers a variety of health benefits. But Czerwony cautions that we need more research to know exactly how hibiscus supplements can help treat certain conditions.

Health benefits of hibiscus tea

So, what exactly is the power of hibiscus? Czerwony explains some of its health benefits.

1. Protects with antioxidants

The hibiscus plant is rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin C and anthocyanin. “Antioxidant-rich foods really help across the board with quite a few health conditions,” Czerwony says.

Antioxidants destroy harmful molecules known as free radicals within your body. Free radicals cause damage to cells that contribute to diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. While your body uses its own antioxidants to fight free radical damage, antioxidant-rich foods may also play a role in preventing disease.

2. Fights inflammation

Several animal studies and a few small human studies have shown hibiscus’s ability to fight inflammation, Czerwony says.


Inflammation plays a role in the development of many illnesses, including cancer, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. While more research is needed, it seems that hibiscus may offer helpful anti-inflammatory effects.

3. Lowers blood pressure

High blood pressure affects nearly half of all adults in the U.S., leading to serious health problems like heart attack, stroke, heart failure and kidney disease. In clinical trials, drinking hibiscus tea has been shown to lower blood pressure in humans.

However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health points out that hibiscus and other herbal remedies only slightly lower blood pressure. They can’t replace medications for those who’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure.

4. Lowers cholesterol

High cholesterol is another health problem that affects millions of adults and contributes to serious diseases like heart attack and stroke. While some clinical studies have shown hibiscus lowers cholesterol levels, others have shown little effect.

Czerwony says hibiscus may help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, but once again, we need more research to be sure.

5. Promotes weight loss

Several studies show a positive impact on weight loss, which could help prevent obesity — but these studies used hibiscus extract, a more concentrated form than hibiscus tea. Czerwony notes that we don’t yet know whether hibiscus tea produces the same result.

6. Fights bacteria

In laboratory studies, hibiscus extract kept certain types of bacteria in check. While it’s clear hibiscus has antibacterial properties, researchers are studying its effectiveness in people.

7. Supports liver health

Hibiscus helps keep the liver healthy, according to several studies. The extract protects the liver from a variety of toxins, likely due to its powerful antioxidant activity. It’s even demonstrated some anti-cancer activity in laboratory tests of liver cells.


Is hibiscus safe?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers hibiscus safe when consumed in food. However, it’s possible to have an allergic reaction to the plant. In very high doses, hibiscus may cause liver damage.

“You can certainly add hibiscus into your diet safely,” Czerwony says. But she recommends talking with your healthcare provider, as it could interact with some medicines.

What’s the best way to take hibiscus?

Ready to take the plunge? Hibiscus is available in several forms:

  • Tea:You can make hibiscus tea by steeping dried hibiscus buds (called calyxes) in boiling water. If you’re not into the DIY method, you can also purchase dried hibiscus or hibiscus tea bags.
  • Powder:You can also buy hibiscus as a powder, which is made from dried plant parts that are finely ground. Mix the powder with water to make a beverage.
  • Extract:Hibiscus extract is a concentrated liquid form of the supplement. You can buy it from health food or herbal supplement retailers.

Czerwony recommends drinking hibiscus tea rather than powder or extract. “Hibiscus tea — whether you buy it already prepared, use tea bags or steep it yourself from the dried plant — is the least expensive and most readily available,” she says. And the powders and extracts may differ in strength and concentration, so you may be getting a dose that’s too strong.

Next time you find yourself at your favorite java spot, consider forgoing your frothy coffee in favor of hibiscus tea. “When people ask me about hibiscus tea,” Czerwony says, “I tell them it’s perfectly acceptable, and possibly beneficial, to drink a cup of hibiscus tea a day.”

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Spearmint tea in a glass see through cup with spearmint leaves scattered on the saucer and background.
November 21, 2023/Nutrition
3 Health Benefits of Spearmint Tea

This subtly minty beverage can help balance hormones and loosen stiff joints

table with loose black tea, kettle and honey
July 9, 2023/Nutrition
How Black Tea Can Benefit Your Health

Flavonoids in black tea are good for your health, helping prevent strokes and heart disease

Close-up shot of kombucha in a mason jar with lemon and ginger.
March 5, 2023/Digestive
Is Kombucha Good for You?

Research is limited, but there’s evidence the fermented tea offers some health benefits

Green tea extract in Pill formula
March 22, 2022/Diet, Food & Fitness
Is Green Tea Extract Beneficial?

The energy drink staple packs a caffeine punch, but caution is recommended

A birds-eye-view of three glasses of iced herbal tea
August 12, 2021/Diet, Food & Fitness
The Best Teas to Drink for Your Health

There’s a perfect tea option for every condition

Cup of Black Tea Served with Biscuits
April 9, 2019/Wellness
Prefer Piping-Hot Tea? Here’s Why You Might Want to Let It Cool Down First

Study reveals hot tea can raise esophageal cancer risk

Salmon over lentils and carrots
April 15, 2024/Nutrition
Psoriasis and Diet: How Foods Can Impact Inflammation

A well-balanced diet with anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce flare-ups and severity of psoriasis symptoms

Beef cut, chicken breast, cod filet and ground beef, with spices and seasoning
April 5, 2024/Nutrition
Are You Eating Enough Choline-Rich Foods?

This vital nutrient helps your brain and body in many ways — and most of us need more of it

Trending Topics

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

woman snacking on raisins and nuts
52 Foods High In Iron

Pump up your iron intake with foods like tuna, tofu and turkey