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Healthy Hibiscus

Drinking tea is an easy and tasty holistic ritual that houses so many health and sensory benefits. I have been a tea drinker since a little kid having tea parties with my Barbie and Cabbage Patch dolls, yet the way I drink them now is starkly different. forever sweetened mine with tons of sugar and sometimes a little sliver of lemon, if I was feeling fancy. As I grew up and realized the multitude of health benefits from drinking herbs, flowers and roots, I used no sweetener and much less water to make my tisanes a healthful shot of vitality. One of my favorites is hibiscus. I was first introduced to this wonderful flower by way of Sorrel, from my beautiful Esthetics instructor from Montego Bay.

Hibiscus is a flowering plant from the mallow family, found in tropical climates around the world. Hibiscus plants are known for their large, colorful flowers. These blossoms can make a decorative addition to a home or garden, but they also have medicinal uses. They can be red, yellow, white, or peach-colored, and can be as big as 6 inches wide. There are several hundred species of hibiscus varying by the location and climate they grow in, but Hibiscus sabdariffa is most commonly used to make hibiscus tea. The flowers and leaves can be made into teas and liquid extracts that can help treat a variety of conditions. People have been drinking hibiscus tea for centuries for its beneficial properties.

I have incorporated drinking hibiscus into my daily ritual as the benefits are astounding. It has a tart flavor similar to that of cranberries and can be enjoyed both hot and cold. Hibiscus tea is rich in powerful antioxidants and may therefore help prevent damage and disease caused by the buildup of free radicals. Antioxidants are molecules that help fight compounds called free radicals, which cause damage to your cells. Several studies have found that hibiscus tea may lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. However, it should not be taken with hydrochlorothiazide to prevent an interaction. Over time, high blood pressure can place extra strain on the heart and cause it to weaken. High blood pressure is also associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Several studies have shown that hibiscus may promote liver health and help keep it working efficiently. Your liver is essential to your overall health, from producing proteins to secreting bile to breaking down fat. There are also studies that suggest that hibiscus tea may be associated with weight loss and protect against obesity.

In addition to having antioxidant and anticancer properties, some test-tube studies have found that hibiscus could help fight bacterial infections. Bacteria are single-celled microorganisms that can cause a variety of infections, ranging from bronchitis to pneumonia to urinary tract infections. One test-tube study found that hibiscus extract inhibited the activity of E. coli, a strain of bacteria that can cause symptoms like cramping, gas and diarrhea. Aside from its multitude of possible health benefits, hibiscus tea is delicious and easy to prepare at home. Simply add dried hibiscus flowers to a teapot and pour boiling water over them. Let it steep for five minutes, then strain, sweeten it if desired and enjoy.

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