Dried hibiscus flowers, in tea or supplements, can help a person fight off infections and have several other health benefits.
The capsules contain three ingredients shown to fight UTI: D-mannose, the hibiscus flower extract, and dried cranberry extract.
Studies have shown that hibiscus is not just an antibacterial, but also an antifungal and antiparasitic agent. It helps keep the bladder and kidneys healthy and kills bad bacteria that cause pain during urination.
The chemicals in hibiscus extract work quickly, cycling through the body in a day. The hibiscus rids the body of E. coli and up to 95% of the bacteria that cause UTIs.
It is also a diuretic that flushes bacteria to cleanse the urinary system and boost the immune system so it can prevent bacteria from infecting the urinary tract.
Hibiscus: more than an antibacterial
WebMd has an article about hibiscus that says :
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.
WebMd says more study is needed to determine whether hibiscus fights colds, constipation, fluid retention, irritated stomach, loss of appetite, nerve disease, and other conditions.
This video explores the benefits of hibiscus tea.
The several other benefits of hibiscus
Healthline has an article that details the many other benefits of hibiscus. Hibiscus may:
- Be an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals that can damage the cells of your body. So far, studies have just been done on animals, but in lab rats, "hibiscus extract increased the number of antioxidant enzymes and reduced the harmful effects of free radicals by up to 92%.
Another rat study had similar findings, showing that parts of the hibiscus plant, such as the leaves, possess potent antioxidant properties." Healthline says more studies are needed in humans to determine whether hibiscus works well as an antioxidant.
- Hibiscus may lower blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic,several studies have found. High blood pressure can weaken the heart, put extra strain on it and can increase the risk of heart disease. People on hydrochlorothiazide should not take hibiscus because it may interact withe the diuretic.
- Hibiscus may also help lower the levels of fat in the blood. Higher blood fat levels are a risk factor in heart disease. A study of diabetes patients found that good cholesterol increased and bad cholesterol and triglycerides decreased in those who drank hibiscus tea for one month. Results were compared to black tea, which did not show similar benefits. Daily hibiscus extracts were shown to increase HDL (good) cholesterol and decrease total cholesterol. But other studies have conflicted with these findings, so more research is needed. And the blood fat benefits may be for those only diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Hibiscus might promote liver function and health, studies have shown. A study of 19 overweight people who took hibiscus extract for 12 weeks saw an improvement in liver steatosis, which makes fat build up in the liver and can cause it to fail. In hamsters, hibiscus extract might help decrease markers of liver damage. Still another study, in rats, found that the extract boosted concentrations of several healthful enzymes by 65%. More research is needed in humans.
- Hibiscus tea might help people lose weight and help prevent obesity. In one study, 36 overweight people given hibiscus extract reduced weight, fat, body mass index, and hip-to-waist ratio. Similar benefits were not found for those taking the placebo. Another study, using obese mice, found that they lost weight when on hibiscus extract for two months. More studies on humans, weight loss, and hibiscus are needed.
- Hibiscus contains phenols, which help fight cancer. In test tubes, hibiscus extract helped counteract or inhibit mouth, plasma cell, prostate, and stomach cancers. These were test tube studies, not on live humans, so more research is necessary.
Hibiscus fights bacteria (not just UTI)
So hibiscus is an antioxidant and may be a cancer, obesity, and high blood pressure fighter. But some other test tube studies found that it might help ward off bacterial infections. Healthline says:
Another test-tube study showed that the extract fought eight strains of bacteria and was as effective as some medications used to treat bacterial infection.
However, no human studies have looked at the antibacterial effects of hibiscus tea, so it is still unclear how these results may translate to humans.