Hibiscus tea or Jamaican tea is actually an infusion made from the sepals of the beautiful Jamaican rose ( Hibiscos sabdariffa ) or Hibiscus. It is drunk hot or cold and although it is very popular in Central America, the Caribbean and South America, it is known all over the world.
Although the flower petals are red, when they dry they take on a characteristic shade of violet hues. This gives the tea shades ranging from red to ruby or grape.
Jamaican tea or water is bitter, it is usually taken sweetened. The flavor is very similar to that of blueberries. It is recommended to take it ice cream.
Used in the Caribbean since the earliest cultures as a diuretic, Jamaican tea has other very interesting medicinal properties.
Benefits and Properties of Jamaican tea (Hibiscus)
1. Prevents arterial hypertension
Although the exact mechanism is not known, preliminary studies have shown that drinking Jamaican tea prevents spikes in hypertension .
This effect is most likely secondary to the diuretic, but unlike other known diuretics, the patients studied did not see their blood sodium and potassium balance altered, which is a great advantage. The effect was achieved with a treatment of 2 to 3 weeks, drinking 3 cups of Jamaican tea per day.
2. Lowers cholesterol
One of the great problems of Western society is a diet rich in fats that causes an increase in blood cholesterol, with great cardiovascular risks.
The fight against cholesterol (especially LDL or “bad cholesterol”) ranges from lifestyle changes to specific medication. Jamaican tea has the property of lowering LDL cholesterol and several studies have been carried out in this regard . This drop in blood lipids was more significant in diabetic patients.
Anthocyanins, the pigment that gives Hibiscus tea its characteristic color, are believed to be antioxidants, which would explain their effect on LDL cholesterol.
3. Reduces glucose in type II diabetes
Although Jamaican tea is popularly known as a blood sugar reducer, it has been found to work only in patients with type II diabetes, probably because it improves kidney function often impaired in diabetics.
Jamaican tea treatment improved the membrane of kidney cells that are usually affected when glucose is high. Studies indicate that the polyphenols present in Hibiscus are responsible for this action.
4. Improves liver function
Many studies show that Jamaican tea has properties that benefit the liver. Due to the antioxidants (anthocyanins) it possesses, Jamaican tea is a protector and a great ally in the treatment of liver diseases.
As is common in all antioxidants, Jamaican tea “traps” free radicals that damage cells, in this case, the liver.
5. Pain reliever to treat menstrual cramps
This is also a benefit that is popularly known in Central America. Drinking hot tea is always useful for these cases, but Hibiscus tea has a special effect because it regulates estrogen levels that drop sharply during menstruation. For this reason it is also useful for treating associated symptoms such as bad mood or depression.
6. Natural Antidepressant and Anxiolytic
For the same effect on estrogen hormone levels, Jamaican tea is known to be useful for the treatment of depression in women.
This effect has been studied especially in patients with postpartum depression, and it was observed that although it is accompanied by an anxiolytic effect, it is not sedative as is the case with the drugs most used in depression.
7. Perfect for improving digestion
Hot hibiscus tea stimulates digestive and intestinal function . This property would also be related to the decrease in cholesterol, being the low in lipids a consequence of the elimination of fats via the intestines.
Animal studies indicate that this increased excretion of fats is the explanation why Jamaican tea is digestive and prevents constipation.
8. Hibiscus tea helps control weight
As we mentioned, hibiscus tea helps lower cholesterol, increases intestinal activity, decreases fat absorption, and is a diuretic. These effects bring with them a very positive effect on weight control, which is why it is indicated in diets to lose weight.
Some studies have also shown that Jamaican tea inhibits the formation of fat cells , or adipocytes, known to cause localized fat deposits in the abdomen and legs.
9. It is refreshing and has a diuretic effect
Jamaican iced tea is drunk in the Caribbean throughout the day and is very common to find it for sale in street stalls. This is because it has an important effect on hydration regulation by quenching thirst. Its diuretic effect makes it widely used in athletes who want to eliminate toxins.
10. Anti Aging Effect
As we already know thanks to the well-known “anti-aging” face creams, antioxidants slow down the aging of skin cells. Hibiscus tea is very rich in flavonoids and anthocyanins, both antioxidants, so drinking it is useful to avoid the marks that the years leave on the skin.
Ayurvedic medicine has recommended hibiscus powder for centuries to apply to the skin to improve its elasticity.
11. Vitamin C for the immune system
We know that vitamin C is key to maintaining our immune system. Jamaican tea provides a good part of the daily amount that our body needs. Remember that taking vitamin C in autumn and winter especially protects us from viral diseases of the season.
12. To drink in all seasons
Another great advantage is that this infusion has benefits for both the summer season, due to its refreshing effect, and the winter season.
It is exquisite well chilled and has a very pleasant characteristic flavor when drunk hot, sweetened with a few drops of lemon.
13. It is laxative
By increasing the elimination of fats via the intestines and favoring digestion, Jamaican tea has a laxative effect. The exact mechanism of action is not well known in humans, although experimental studies have been carried out on fats in the laboratory.
14. Helps Prevent Cancer
One of the known agents in the production of tumors are free radicals (oxidants) that are formed in our body by the action of toxins, radiation, etc. As Jamaican tea is rich in antioxidants (polyphenols, anthocyanins, flavonoids), it is believed that it may be useful in the prevention of cancer.
15. Antibacterial Properties
Jamaican tea is a very useful agent in the fight against well-known bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus. They are responsible for gastroenteritis and skin infections.
The known action of Hibiscus in the cure of these two conditions means that it is also being studied to use it as a preservative in food and drinks, since these bacteria are found there when they are not properly preserved. In the meantime, we continue to use hibiscus tea as a natural antibacterial.
Although Jamaican tea is known as a natural medicinal drink, there are some possible side effects. These apply if you drink this infusion in excess.
Jamaican tea has an effect on estrogen, lowering its level, which can affect the effectiveness of menopausal hormone treatment. Also, if you are using any contraceptive or birth control system that uses estrogen, its effectiveness may be diminished.
This same effect on estrogen can affect female reproductive capacity. If you are doing any treatment to get pregnant, it is better to stop drinking Jamaican tea to avoid interactions.
Another side effect if Jamaican tea is taken in excess is the decrease in blood pressure below normal values, especially if you suffer from hypotension . Added to the diuretic effect, the tea would cause the expansion of blood vessels. Therefore, if you suffer from low blood pressure, it is better not to drink a lot of hibiscus tea.
Finally, hibiscus tea has been found to interact with some drugs used in cancer chemotherapy. If you are in this stage of the treatment, it is better to suspend Jamaican tea from your drinks.
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