Hibiscus is a bright red flower that is often used in juices and flavorings. The leaves and flower have been used to lower cholesterol and ease swelling in the body. Hibiscus can be taken as a pill, powder, or extract. It can also be used as an oil or made into a tea. Hibiscus can also be put on the skin as a cream or lotion.


150 to 250 milligrams once daily

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

May Be Effective

  • Anal fissure —may ease pain and improve healing when applied as an ointmentA1
  • Diabetes —may lower blood pressure and cholesterol B1, B2
  • Metabolic syndrome—may lower total cholesterol and blood pressure E1, E2

Unlikely to Be Effective

Not Enough Data to Assess

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe to use hibiscus on the skin and to take small doses of hibiscus for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period or by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.G1


Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.


A. Anal Fissure

A1. Martellucci J, Rossi G, et al. Myoxinol ointment for the treatment of acute fissure. Updates Surg. 2017;69(4):499-503.

B. Diabetes

B1. Mozaffari-Khosravi H, Jalali-Khanabadi BA, et al. Effects of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on lipid profile and lipoproteins in patients with type II diabetes. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Aug;15(8):899-903.

B2. Mozaffari-Khosravi H, Ahadi Z, et al. The effect of green tea and sour tea on blood pressure of patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized clinical trial. J Diet Suppl. 2013;10(2):105-115.

C. High Blood Pressure

C1. McKay DL, Chen CY, et al. Hibiscus sabdariffa L. tea (tisane) lowers blood pressure in prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults. J Nutr. 2010;140(2):298-303.

C2. Nwachukwu DC, Aneke EI, et al. Effects of aqueous extract of Hibiscus sabdariffa in the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system of Nigerians with mild to moderate essential hypertension: A comparative study with lisinopril. Indian J Pharmacol. 2015;47(5):540-545.

C3. Nwachukwu DC, Aneke E, et al. Effect of Hibiscus sabdariffa on blood pressure and electrolyte profile of mild to moderate hypertensive Nigerians: A comparative study with hydrochlorothiazide. Niger J Clin Pract. 2015;18(6):762-770.

C4. Serban C, Sahebkar A, et al. Effect of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) on arterial hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Hypertens. 2015;33(6):1119-1127.

C5. Nwachukwu DC, Aneke EI, et al. Does consumption of an aqueous extract of Hibscus sabdariffa affect renal function in subjects with mild to moderate hypertension? J Physiol Sci. 2017 Jan;67(1):227-234.

D. High Cholesterol

D1. Kuriyan R, Kumar DR, et al. An evaluation of the hypolipidemic effect of an extract of Hibiscus Sabdariffa leaves in hyperlipidemic Indians: a double blind, placebo controlled trial. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2010 Jun 17;10:27.

D2. Aziz Z, Wong SY, et al. Effects of Hibiscus sabdariffa L. on serum lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Nov 25;150(2):442-450.

E. Metabolic Syndrome

E1. Gurrola-Díaz CM, García-López PM, et al. Effects of Hibiscus sabdariffa extract powder and preventative treatment on the lipid profiles of patients with metabolic syndrome. Phytomed. 2010;17:500-505.

E2. Asgary S, Soltani R, et al. Evaluation of the effects of roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) on oxidative stress and serum levels of lipids, insulin and hs-CRP in adult patients with metabolic syndrome: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Complement Integr Med. 2016 Jun 1;13(2):175-180.

F. Obesity

F1. Chang HC, Peng CH, et al. Hibiscus sabdariffa extract inhibits obesity and fat accumulation, and improves liver steatosis in humans. Food Funct. 2014 Apr;5(4):734-739.

G. Safety

G1. Izzo AA. Interactions between herbs and conventional drugs: overview of the clinical data. Med Princ Pract. 2012;21(5):404-428.

Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
Last Updated: 5/27/2020

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