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The hibiscus flower which is known commonly in India as Jaswanti is common fixture in most Indian gardens and flower nurseries. As kids we have all played with its ruby red petals or sipped on its sweet nectar. This ornamental flower also has religious significance in Hinduism. It is said to be Lord Ganesha's favourite and is offered to him during pujas. Like the Vignaharata himself, the hibiscus is known to remove obstacles and vanquish enemies if it is offered to the lord. This is especially true if your enemy happens to be hypertension! Studies have proven that the hibiscus flower can help lower high blood pressure in humans.
Hibiscus is more effective than hypertension drugs
Studies reveal that even common blood pressure drugs lisinopril and hydrochlorothiazide are pale in comparison to hibiscus. The flower functions as a great ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitor and is even more effective than lisinopril when it comes to lowering blood pressure.  Researchers speculate that anthocyanins (water-soluble vacuolar pigments) that give the flower its bright red colour may be the ingredient that helps in bringing down blood pressure.
In a second study , the same group of researchers tested the efficiency of hydrochlorothiazide against the hibiscus and they were stunned to know that the flower trumped the common hypertension drug. The researchers concluded that the flower was more effective than the drug and did not cause electrolyte imbalance that-- hydrochlorothiazide usually causes-- in the subjects who underwent the test. Additionally, the effects of hibiscus was far more long lasting than hydrochlorothiazide.
How to prepare hibiscus tea
A simple tea with hibiscus petals plucked from your own garden can put an end to your hypertension woes without the harmful side effects of BP medication. You can always order a pack of the tea online or make it from scratch. Here's how you go about; it's as easy as one, two, three.
1 whole hibiscus flower
1 cup of water
1 clove (optional)
1 small cinnamon stick (optional)
Heat water in a sauce pan. Throw in the cloves and the cinnamon and wait for the water to come to a boil. Once it starts boiling, add the hibiscus petals and turn off the heat. Cover the pan with a lid and wait for it to cool. You can either sip it piping hot or with some ice cubes and honey thrown in (Don't add honey to the hot beverage). You will be delighted by its bright red colour and the tangy taste.
Don't fancy tea or coffee? Here are some healthy caffeine-free alternatives.
1. Nwachukwu DC, Aneke EI, Obika LF, Nwachukwu NZ. Effects of aqueous extract of Hibiscus sabdariffa on the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system of Nigerians with mild to moderate essential hypertension: A comparative study with lisinopril. Indian J Pharmacol. 2015 Sep-Oct;47(5):540-5. doi: 10.4103/0253-7613.165194. PubMed PMID: 26600645; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4621677.
2. Nwachukwu DC, Aneke E, Nwachukwu NZ, Obika LF, Nwagha UI, Eze AA. Effect of Hibiscus sabdariffaon blood pressure and electrolyte profile of mild to moderate hypertensive Nigerians: A comparative study with hydrochlorothiazide. Niger J Clin Pract. 2015 Nov-Dec;18(6):762-70. doi: 10.4103/1119-3077.163278. PubMed PMID: 26289514.
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