Hibiscus – proven benefits, uses

The scientific name of the Hibiscus or china rose is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Linn. It is also know as Chinese hibiscus, Red hibiscus, Rose of China, and Shoeflower.

Other names include

CHINESE: Zhu jin, Da hong hua, Fo sang, Fu sang.
DANISH: : Kinesisk rose.
DUTCH: Chinese roos.
FRENCH: Hibiscus de Chine, Hibiscus rose de Chine , Rose de Chine.
GERMAN: Chinesischer Roseneibisch.
ITALIAN: Rosa della Cina.
JAPANESE: Aka-bana, Fusou, Haibisukasu.
MALAY: Bunga raya.
NEPALESE: Baarhmaase phuul, Gudahal, Japaa kusum, Japa puspii, Rakta puspi.
POLISH: Ketmia róza-chinska.
PORTUGUESE: Hibisco, Mimo-chinês (Brazil), Rosa da China, Mimo de Vênus (Brazil).
SPANISH: Rosa de China.
THAI: Chaba.

About 300 species are found worldwide. Its beauty makes it one of the most widely cultivated of flowers, in brilliant hues of red, orange, or purplish-reds, with short-lived but continuing blooms. The red flowered variety has been preferred in medicine.

Hibiscus  is an erect, much-branched, glabrous shrub, 1 to 4 meters high. Leaves are glossy green, ovate, acuminate, pointed, coarsely-toothed, 7 to 12 centimeters long, alternate, stipulate. Flowers are solitary, axillary, very large, about 10 centimeters long, and 12 centimeters in diameter. Outermost series of bracteoles are 6, lanceolate, green, and 8 millimeters long or less. Calyx is green, about 2 centimeters long, with ovate lobes. Petals are red, orange or rose-white, obovate, entire, rounded tip, and imbricate. Stamens form a long staminal tube enclosing the entire style of the pistil and protruding out of the corolla. Ovary is 5-celled, styles are 5, fused below. Fruits are capsules, loculicidally 5-valved, but rarely formed in cultivation.


– Ornamental cultivation throughout the world.
– Commonly planted as a hedge and fence or as landscape shrub.

Medicinal properties of hibiscus 

· Considered emollient, emmenagogue, anodyne, expectorant, refrigerant.

· Anti-infectious, anthelmintic, antiinflammatory, diuretic, antipyretic.

· Hypotensive, antispasmodic.

· Prepared drug has sweet taste, neutral natured.

· The Hibiscus with five petals noted for its medicinal properties, the flowers are considered astringent. The roots contain a mucilage that is soothing on the mucous membranes of the digestive and respiratory tracts.

· Proanthocyanidins are considered antioxidant, antipyretic, analgesic, spasmolytic.


– Flowers reported to yield hisbiscetin.

– Flowers yield polyphenols, flavonoids and anthocyanins.

– Polysaccharides which promote wound healing and are immune-modulating.

– Studies have isolated flavonoids, cyanidin, quercetin, hentriacontane, calcium oxalate, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, ascorbic acid.
– Constituent study of flowers yielded total anthocyanin of 165 mg/kg; tannin, ascorbic acid, and total polyphenol were 11.8g/kg, 478 mg/kg, and 14.4 mg/g respectively. Screening also yielded alkaloids and saponins. (see study)

Parts utilized

· Flowers, roots, and leaves.

· Harvest the roots and leaves anytime of the year.

· Wash, cut into slices, and sun-dry. The flowers should be collected from May to August, sun-dry.

Edibility / Culinary

A tasty tea is brewed from its petal.

Folkloric traditional medicine remedies and uses of hibiscus

· In the Philippines, flower buds, beaten to a paste, applied as poultice to boils, cancerous swellings, and mumps.

·Poultice of leaves and flower buds applied externally to swellings; the same mixture, with the addition of lime, hastens the maturation of tumors.

· Mumps, infection of the urinary tract: use dried drug materials 15 to 30 gms, boil to decoction and drink.

· For abscesses, carbuncles and boils: crush fresh leaves and poultice the infected area.

· Decoction of roots, barks, leaves and flowers used as an emollient.

· Decoction from roots of red and white-flowered plants is a Kelantan antidote for poison. Same decoction is drunk for venereal diseases and fevers.

· Decoction of roots also used for coughs.

· Decoction of flowers and or roots used as natural diuretic.

· Bark is an emmenagogue; also used to normalize menstruation.

· Malays uses a decoction of leaves as a lotion for fevers, and the roots for glands in the neck.

· Infusion or poultice of leaves used for headaches.

· In China, leaves used as emollient, anodyne, and a gentle aperient.

· Decoction of root used as drops for sore eyes.

· Seeds used as a stimulant and for cramps.

· Decoction of leaves for fevers.

· For headaches, an infusion of leaves or poultice of leaves.

· Leaves are mildly laxative.

· Mucilage applied during labor.

· Juice of leaves, along with that of Vernonia cinerea, used by midwives to stimulate the expulsion of the placenta

· In the Dutch Indies the red flowers are used to regulate menstruation; also, considered somewhat purgative and sometimes said to cause abortion

· In Sind, flowers are fried in clarified butter and used for checking excessive menstruation

· Red flowers used for sprue.

· Infusion of flowers and leaves used as expectorant in bronchitis

· The Chinese and Annamites use the flowers for paralysis and dysmenorrhea.

· Infusion of flowers, exposed all night to the dew, used for gonorrhea.

· Flowers fried in ghee, given for menorrhagia. The dark red petals are used as a mucilaginous infusion for painful urination, strangury, cystitis, and other irritable genitourinary conditions

· Infusion used as a refrigerant drink for fevers and as demulcent for coughs.

· Red flowers are purgative; when taken with papaya seeds, may be abortive.

· Hair stimulant: oil made by mixing the juice of fresh petals and olive oil in equal proportions, and boiled till the water has evaporated, used for stimulating hair growth.

· Seeds, pounded to a pulp and mixed with water, used for gonorrhea.

· In Costa Rica, used as a purgative.

· In Venezuela, used to treat tumors.

· In the Caribbean, used as analgesic, anti-inflammatory.

· In the Dominican Republic, used to treat hematomas.

Other uses

· Dye / Coloring:

In Ceylon, juice of flowers reported to serve as shoe-blackening. Chinese and Hindus use the juice of petals for blackening of their eyebrows. Flowers used as food coloring.

· Fibers: Bark contains strong bast fibers.

Scientific proven health and beauty benefits of hibiscus

Biologic Activities:

Studies have demonstrated anti-bacterial, hypotensive, antispasmodic, and chemopreventive activities. It has shown glucose lowering in diabetic rats. Leaf extract has shown to promote hair growth.

Post-Coital Antifertility Activity / Roots:

The study explored the antifertility and estrogenic activity of root extracts of H. rosa-sinensis.

A strong anti-implantation and uterotropic activity was observed.

Post-Coital Antifertility Activity / Flowers:

Study of different extracts on the postcoital antifertility properties showed only the flower extracts were 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. Extracts from H mutabilis, H schizopetalus and M grandiflorus did not markedly affect pregnancy.

Wound Healing Activity:

Results on flower extracts study suggest H. rosa-sinensis aids wound healing in the rat model.

Study on wound healing showed an ethanolic extract of flowers to have greater wound healing activity than the nitrofurazone ointment. The extract treated wound showed much faster healing as indicated by improved rates of epithelization and wound contraction.


Study evaluated the cardioprotective effect of the Hibiscus rosa sinensis flowers in an oxidative stress model of myocardial ischemic reperfusion injury in rat: The study concludes that the flower of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis augments endogenous antioxidant activity and prevented isoproterenol induced myocardial injury.

Spasmogenic / Spasmolytic Constituents:

Presence of cholinergic and calcium channel blocking activities explains the traditional use of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis in constipation and diarrhoea: Study indicates the crude extract had spasmogenic and spasmolytic constituents to explain its traditional use in constipation and diarrhea.

Phytochemical / Hypotensive Activity:

Flowers extract studies isolated four new phytoconstituents. The hydroalcoholic extract showed the most significant hypotensive activity.

Hypoglycemic / Hypolipidemic Activity / Flowers:

Study of ethanol flower extract on lipids and blood glucose of STZ-induced diabetic rats showed a lipid lowering effect (decrease cholesterol and serum triglycerides with increase in HDL) and diminution in blood glucose comparable to that of glibenclamide but through a mechanism other than insulin release.

Hypolipidemic Activity / Roots:

Study showed a hypolipidemic effect compared to the standard drug guggulipid. Histopath findings in rat liver supported the role of H rosa sinensis root extract in preventing cholesterol HFD-induced hepatic steatosis.

Antitumor / Anticancer:

Study to investigate the ameliorative potential of H rosa sinensis extract in mice skin showed the extract of HRS exerts a protective effect against tumor promotion stage of cancer development.

Cytotoxicity / Flowers:

Studies have showed H. rosa-sinensis flower decoction has cytotoxic properties in plant test systems. Decoction of flowers was toxic on root output and length in A. cepa and reduced the mitotic index significantly. Results suggest that H. rosa-sinensis flowers contain antimitotic constituents which stop cell division in anywhere of the cell cycle.

Excipient Potential:

Study concludes that a novel hydrophilic excipient, a mucilage extracted from H rosa sinensis can be used in the development of sustained-release tablets.

Gentisic Acid / Tumor Inhibition / Anti-Carcinogenesis:

Study evaluated the role of gentisic acid, a chemical constituent of H. rosa-sinensis, on DBMA/croton-oil-mediated carcinogenesis in mouse skin. Results suggest the gentisic acid plays a role in the modulatory activity of H. rosa-sinensis extract.

Antianxiety / CNS Effect:

Study showed statistically significant decrease in exploratory behavior, latency, and increased rearing and ambulatory behavior. Results suggest H. rosa-sinensis has significant anti-anxiety associated psychobehaviour modulation.


Study of alcohol and aqueous extracts of dried leaves showed marked dose-dependent analgesic activity.

Blood Pressure Lowering:

Study showed drinking of hibiscus tea lowered blood pressure in a group of pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults.

Hair-Growth Potential:

Petroleum ether extract of leaves and flowers of HRS were studied for hair growth potential over shaved skin of albino rats. Results showed the leaf extracts exhibit more potency on hair growth.

Antibacterial / Leaves and Flowers:

Study evaluated extracts of leaves and flowers against clinical isolates of bacteria. Staphylococcus aureus was most sensitive to extracts of flowers. Flower extracts had stronger antibacterial effects than leaves.

Spermatogenesis Effect / Flowers:

Study evaluated the effect of crude extract of flowers as antifertility agent on male albino rats. Results showed changes in the germinal epithelium of the testes from mild damage to near total sloughing, and suggests a potential role as an anti-fertility agent.

Effect on Androgenic Alopecia / Leaves:

Study showed an ethanolic extract of leaves to possess significant anti-androgenic alopecia activity and is comparable to standard FDA approved drug for androgenic alopecia finasteride.

Antinociceptive / Anti-Inflammatory / Leaves:

Study of a methanol extract of leaves showed dose-dependent peripheral analgesic activity in the acetic acid-induced writhing response and tail flick method. A carrageenan and dextran induced paw edema models using indomethacin as standard showed significant anti-inflammatory activity.

Anti-Ulcer / Roots:

Study evaluated various extracts of roots of H. rosa sinensis in pyloric ligation induced gastric ulcer in albino rats for antiulcer activity. An aqueous extract of roots showed highly significant dose-dependent antiulcer activity.

Lack of Genotoxicity:

Evaluation of a methanol extract of flowers showed no genotoxicity in the micronucleus assay in Balb/c mice. The lack of in vivo genotoxic activity provides potential for the flower extract to be used as a pharmaceutical material.

Fibrinolytic Activity:

The fibrinolytic system’s main function is to dissolve clots in circulation. The inactive precursor plasminogen is converted into plasmin by a plasminogen activator (tPA). An aqueous extract of H. rosa sinensis exhibited significant fibrinolytic activity.

Antihyperlipidemic / Leaves:

A methanol extract of leaves was evaluated for antihyperlipidemic activity against Triton induced hyperlipidemia in mice. Simvastatin was used as reference drug. Results showed a significant decrease in total cholesterol (71%), triglyceride (74%) and LDL (91%).

Anthelmintic / Flowers:

Study showed the anthelmintic activity of aqueous and ethanolic extract of flowers against Indian earthworm Pheretima posthuma. Standard references were Piperazine citrate, Albendazole, and Pyrantel pamoate.


Study investigated the cardioprotective effects of Hemidesmus indicus and Hibiscus rosa-sinensis in ischemia reperfusion injury in isolated rat hearts. Both drugs dose-dependently reduced ectopic beats and duration of ventricular tachycardia. HRS significantly reduced infarct size at all concentrations in a dose-dependent manner. At higher doses, HRS can cause vasodilation, positive inotropic effect and cardioprotection.

Effect on Renal Function in Hypertensive Rats / Leaves:

Study investigated the effect of aqueous leaf extract on renal function of hypertensive rats. Results showed a significant (p<0.05) increase in Na+ level of normotensive rats and produce increased sat retention. Although the leaf extract can reduce blood pressure, the renal integrity may be compromised when used in the treatment of hypertension.

Hair Growth Retarding Agent:

Study evaluated the efficacy of H. rosa-sinensis flower as hair growth promoter. Results showed an ethanolic extract of flowers may have potential as hair growth retarding agent for use in preparations for hair removing creams.

Mucilage as Oral Disintegrant:

Study evaluated the use of mucilage separated from leaves of H. rosa-sinensis as tablet disintegrant. The mucilage was devoid of toxicity. Tablet formulations showed good appearance and better drug release properties. Results showed HRS mucilage powder was effective as disintegrant in low concentrations (4%).

Antioxidant / Membrane Stability Activity:

Evaluation of flower extract showed antioxidant activity significantly lower compared to ascorbic acid. The extract of fermented H. rosa-sinensis showed a concentration dependent, biphasic membrane stability. Results suggest the flower could be a good source of dietary antioxidant and stabilized RBC exposed to induced lyses.


Cultivated for ornamental use.

Read about other interesting fruits

Acai berry        Ambarella         Avocado           Bael       Banana      Bilberry      Cocunut   

 Cantaloupe        Cashew apple      Dragon Fruit        Fig      Jack fruit  Jamun        Kiwi      

 Mango        Mangosteen       Miracle fruit         Pomelo      Papaya            Passion fruit

Phalsa      Pineapple           Plum       Pomegranate        Prickly pear           Quince       

Rambutan           Roselle          Santol          Sapota       Sea buckthorn       Sour Orange     

Soursop           Sweet Lime         Star gooseberry         Star Apple          Strawberry     

Surinam Cherry          Sweet lime              Tamarind               Tomato           Tree tomato     

 Wampi       Watermelon         Wood apple

Read about herbs and spices

Allspice          Alfalfa       Ashwagandha        Bay leaf              Black cohosh           

Black onion seeds       Black pepper        Celery          Chives         Chamomile        Clove

Coriander       Curry leaf         Cumin        Eucalyptus        Fennel            Fenugreek

Garlic      Ginger         Gotu Kola      Holy basil      Kava Kava        Licorice        Lotus

Majoram      Mustard seeds        Neem       Nutmeg       Oregano            Peppermint

Red  clover    Rose         Rosemary           Sage       St.John’s wort        Tarragon 

Thyme      Triphala powder     Turmeric     Wheat grass      Wild amarnath

Exit mobile version