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Herb Reference Guide



Hibiscus sabdariffa, is a genus of the Malvaceae or Mallow family. In Iran, it is typically known as, “sour tea”, in English-speaking countries it is called “Red Sorrel”. Originally from Angola, it is now cultivated throughout tropical and subtropical regions, especially from Sudan, Egypt, Thailand, Mexico and China. The generic name is derived from the Greek word (hibískos), which was the name Dioscorides (ca. 40-90) gave to Althaea officinalis or Marshmallow. Hibiscus species are used to represent nations: Hibiscus syriacus is the national flower of South Korea, and Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is the national flower of Malaysia. The red hibiscus is the flower of the Hindu Goddess, Kali and appears frequently in depictions of her in the art of Bengal, often with the goddess and the flower merging in form. Hibiscus is used as an offering to goddess Kali and Lord Ganesha in Hindu worship.


Hibiscus flowers contain cyanidin, a naturally occurring pigment also found in healthy berries, cranberry, hawthorn, grapes, raspberry, acai, elderberry, as well as red onions. Studies suggest that extracts of Hibiscus help maintain healthy cholesterol levels that are already in the normal range.* It has also been used traditionally to support healthy fluid retention levels and overall cardiovascular health. Gaia Herbs' concentrates organic Hibiscus flower extract under low temperature and pressure to deliver its pure plant intelligence.

Uses of Hibiscus


This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

Approximately 15%-30% of the plant is made up of plant acids, including citric, malic, tartaric acids and allo-hydroxycitric acid lactone-i.e. hibiscus acid, which is specific to this plant. Other chemical constituents are many, including alkaloids, L-ascorbic acid, anthocyanin, Beta-carotene, Beta-sitosterol, citric acid, polysaccharides arabins and arabinogalactans, quercetin, gossypetin and small amounts of galactose, arabinose, glucose, xylose, mannose and rhamnose.

Parts Used

  • Flowers/Calcyes

Important precautions

Not for use during pregnancy or lactation.

Additional Resources

Herrera-Arellano A, Miranda-Sanchez J, Avila-Castro P, et al. Clinical effects produced by a standardized herbal medicinal product of Hibiscus sabdariffa on patients with hypertension. A randomized, double-blind, Lisinopril-controlled clinical trial. Planta Med 2007;73:6-12.

Lin T, Lin H, Chen C, et al. Hibiscus sabdariffa extract reduces serum cholesterol in men and women. Nutr Res 2007;27:140-145.

Mozaffari-Khosravi H, Jalali-Khanabadi B, Afkhami-Ardehani M, Fatehi F. Effects of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on lipid profile and lipoproteins in patients with Type II diabetes. J Altern and Comp Med 2009;15(8):899-903.