--- By: Kaisha Arnold
The hibiscus tree gives birth to a lovely flower that is seen as a symbol of the Caribbean’s beauty. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, also known as Chinese hibiscus, China rose, Hawaiian hibiscus, rose mallow and shoeblack plant, is not only beautiful to look at, but is also a medicinal powerhouse. The hibiscus flower I’m referring to is not to be confused with sorrel, Hibiscus sabdariffa, another beneficial family member, but the one bush that almost every person has in their yard on our island.
Growing up I saw this beautiful red flower everywhere. Almost every household had at least one of the colored varieties in red, orange, yellow, white, light pink, dark pink, or in the rose shaped, but back then all I knew them for was their beauty. However, as an adult, thanks to my UCA family, I learned that hibiscus was much more than just an ornamental plant. The first time I had the hibiscus drink from UCA I fell in love and immediately started to research the benefits of it, which made me love it even more.
The hibiscus flower is high in phytochemicals such as flavonoids, polyphenols and anthocyanins which are known to be great immune boosters, anti-inflammatory, good for skin and bone health, and cancer fighters. It’s a rich source of vitamin C and provides essential minerals such as calcium, iron, and magnesium, and is high in antioxidants. Once I gained knowledge of this I was sold, but there’s more.
The flower regulates blood pressure, is great for liver health, is a digestive aid, helps with diabetes, reduces cholesterol, regulates menstrual cycles and alleviates cramping, promotes respiratory and kidney health, relieves anxiety, fights cancer, improves heart health, and works as a diuretic pulling away salt from the body all while keeping you hydrated. This flower is also known to stimulate hair growth and combat dandruff by moisturizing the scalp. In addition, hibiscus can be used for vaginal steaming in general, but specifically to support women and young ladies that deal with heavy menstrual flows.
When it comes to cultivating Hibiscus, they are of the easiest plants to grow in our climate, and even easier to plant. Want to grow your own? All you need are some cuttings and you’re good to go. Stick them in a pot with some soil, water regularly, and soon enough you’ll have a beautiful baby hibiscus tree (this works with all the colors, even though some of them are more delicate than others).
My favorite way to drink Hibiscus is by preparing it the same way you would make tea (petals only), then blending the tea with fresh ginger, adding fresh lime juice, and a little bit of sweetener. I have also used the tea as a hair rinse and added the petals to my shake-out mix (shake-out is a mix made from different plants, mainly cactus that’s applied to locs for forming and conditioning).
I’ve learned over the years that most nature is abundant in medicine. And it is the best medicine, especially when incorporated as a regular part of our diet.