Doctor's Note

Here's the beverage comparison video I mentioned with the hibiscus punch recipe: Better Than Green Tea? Note that's erythritol pictured, not sugar (see Erythritol May Be a Sweet Antioxidant) and I also throw in a teaspoon of amla (dried Indian gooseberry powder, see Amla: Indian gooseberries vs. cancer, diabetes, and cholesterol) and my most recent addition is about a half-inch of fresh ginger root—yum! If you throw in some fresh or frozen berries too you're approaching my Pink Juice with Green Foam. The impressive manganese content of hibiscus tea may exceed recommended limits at high intakes, though, so we probably shouldn't drink more than a quart a day.For a primer on the fluctuating levels of oxidant stress, see Antioxidant Level Dynamics.And for more flower power, check out what the saffron crocus can do against depression (Saffron vs. Prozac), PMS (Saffron for the Treatment of PMS), stress (Wake Up and Smell the Saffron), and dementia (Saffron for the Treatment of Alzheimer’s). There are also chamomile flowers (Red Tea, Honeybush, & Chamomile), though Chamomile Tea May Not Be Safe During Pregnancy, and the rose bush: Dietary Osteoarthritis Treatment. More comparisons of herbal teas here: The Healthiest Herbal Tea.Also, check out my associated blog post for more context:  Hibiscus Tea: The Best Beverage?If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.
  • bob

    Do you have a recommended brand of the loose leaf version?

    • Jordaansl

      Mountain Rose Herbs – they sell mostly organic bulk herbs

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=687926548 Mike Speer

    Is there any issue with having too much? I drink about a gallon of the cold-brewed wild berry zinger daily.

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      Just smelling like Wild Berry Zinger. I know personally because I work out a lot and when I have a lot of WBZ or any other Hibiscus tea my sweat smells like flowers. And smelling like flowers is much better than the repulsive, pungent smell that oozes off the meat and dairy eaters when they sweat.

    • http://www.facebook.com/michael.weisensee Michael Weisensee

      I developed a calcium oxalate kidney stone, which my doctor says is due to the tea…

      • http://jolkapolkaskitchen.blogspot.com/ WholeFoodChomper

        I’m not sure about the oxalate content of teas (but that is a good question to ask), however, from this site I have learned that cinnamon and turmeric can contribute to kidney stone formation. Check out the cinnamon and turmeric videos.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1268850618 Devin Wiesner

        Michael, I’m not an expert on kidney stones and was interested in your comment as I consume quite a bit of oxalate and would like to prevent such an occurrence. I did do a search on PubMed and if I’m reading the abstracts properly of the studies I found it sounds like, surprisingly, hibiscus helps prevent kidney stones? I’m so sorry you had a kidney stone. Here’s the link to the studies I referenced: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21075390 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22057204

        • http://www.facebook.com/michael.weisensee Michael Weisensee

          Thanks for the references. Wonder if they translate to humans.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1268850618 Devin Wiesner

      Hi Mike, needless to say (?) just about all substances consumed in excess will have toxic effects. Indeed there was a study on hibiscus and I believe (if I’m interpreting the abstract properly) that providing massive amounts of hibiscus extract did indeed prove toxic. I’m guessing that one gallon a day is fine, especially considering that wild berry zinger has other ingredients as well and overall that’s not a huge amount of hibiscus constituents that you are consuming. Here’s the link to the study I referenced: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19003943

  • Jen

    I love hibiscus ever since you mentioned it I’ve been drinking it. It is so good! Now I know it’s good for my pet rats too I will start giving it to them also :)

  • stevebillig

    This video on hibiscus tea and its impressive antioxidant power yet extremely short term benefits makes me even more focused on endogenous antioxidants and foods that stimulate their production (e.g., turmeric). This also reminds me of the supression of endogenous antioxidant production during supplementation with antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin E. Since the body generates endogenous antioxidants in response to the need (such as after exercising), compared to dietary antioxidants which are not similarly timed, this seems to add support to the strategy of helping the body do its thing.

  • http://www.mycompletelackofboundaries.blogspot.ca/ Ellen Reid

    And where would one get the bulk dried hibiscus?

    • jeebs

      health food stores, online, some major grocery stores.

      • http://www.mycompletelackofboundaries.blogspot.ca/ Ellen Reid

        thanks

    • karoumy

      I found pure hibiscus tea at my local health food store imported from Thailand. You can also try a Mexican supermarket.

    • Jo

      I purchased mine on that online store that’s named after a South American river and forest. It was cheaper there than at the local ethnic supermarkets believe it or not. I put green tea bags in the basket of my coffee pot — sans coffee of course — and the hibiscus leaves in the glass pot and brew.

      One day I’ll be organized enough to cold brew tea instead of hot brew.

    • Guest
    • SillySally

      Maybe you can find some here: http://bit.ly/WLewb8

  • Ed1618

    I buy dried hibiscus tea flowers in bulk at
    my local coop, and grind them down to powder in my coffee grinder. So long as you
    like the flavor in a dish, you can then add the hibiscus powder easily to just
    about anything, smoothies, oatmeal, etc.

    That said, although antioxidant capacity of a food seems important,
    it seems simplistic to rate the value of a food by its antioxidant capacity
    alone.

    First because the tests generally look at the ability of a food to
    inhibit a specific reaction, and free radicals cause a multitude of reactions.
    Use a different test, and you’ll change the rankings – sometimes quite
    significantly. And some reactions seem more biologically relevant than others –
    I prefer those that look at the ability of foods or substances to inhibit
    glycation reactions ( “Inhibition of Protein Glycation by Extracts of
    Culinary Herbs and Spices” by R. P.
    Dearlove et al (J Med Food 11 (2) 2008, 275–281, pdf https://docs.google.com/gview?url=http://www.globalcitizen.net/Data/Pages/1049/papers/2010022311157709.pdf ) , or even better, to inhibit DNA degradation or breakage due to
    free radical reactions.

    However,
    even in the best case scenario, ranking foods by their ability to inhibit
    biologically relevant free radical reactions, one also needs to look at other,
    often more important effects – - such as their epigenetic effects on DNA
    expression. For example, resveratrol in red wine and giant knotweed, fisetin in
    strawberries,
    and quercetin in onions, all activate the human ““longevity gene”” SIRT1.
    Their ability to scavenge free radicals seems pretty much irrelevant with
    respect to this primary epigenetic effect.

    Although
    blueberries rank much lower than hibiscus, as well as a number other berries with
    respect to their antioxidant capacity, I suspect that they have their
    primary effect on an epigenetic level. In
    one research study, simply adding blueberries to the diet of aging rats not
    only prevented declines in mental functions, but actually improved them. Like
    green tea, a plethora of research studies have validated a multitude of
    specific beneficial effects of blueberries in a wide variety of areas.
    Until similar studies validate the effects of hibiscus in other areas,
    blueberries and green tea will continue to outrank it for me as “superfoods” by a wide
    margin.

    • http://jolkapolkaskitchen.blogspot.com/ WholeFoodChomper

      Oh, I like your suggestion of grinding the tea leaves in a coffee grinder.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1268850618 Devin Wiesner

      Hey, Ed. I enjoyed your post. I add hibiscus leaves to my green/white tea each day. There’s a fair bit of research on the benefit of adding an acid to green tea, to make available more catechins. So I figure, in addition to some positive effects of hibiscus (there’s ~630 studies on hibiscus according to PubMed), adding the hibiscus will provide me with more beneficial catechins from the green tea.

  • Thea

    What is interesting to me about this study is that it shows something much more general than just hibiscus tea. I know the study only used hibiscus tea, but we don’t have any reason to believe that any food or liquid high in antioxidants wouldn’t have a similar effect/shape to the graph.

    So, I interpret these results to be showing that: 1) eating foods high in antioxidants does indeed have a significant, measurable impact on the body, 2) as Dr. Greger says, one of the keys to good health is taking in those antioxidant foods and drinks throughout the day – so that our cells are bathed in those cell preserving materials all day long.

    Very cool.

  • john gerry

    We grow Hibiscus. Is a way to tell if ours can be eaten? ie are there different varieties with some inedible?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1268850618 Devin Wiesner

      Hi John. I’ve eaten hibiscus right off the plant before and it tasted just like the dried hibiscus I purchase. Do you know what species of hibiscus you have? If I’m not mistaken the most commonly consumed is Hibiscus Sabdariffa.

    • Veganrunner

      I can barely get a bloom to enjoy. My dogs get to them and eat them before I can enjoy their beauty!

  • Sean Wilhelm

    If I were to cold brew some tea how much loose hibiscus would I use? I got some say the grocery store and would like to give it a try.

  • Sean Wilhelm

    Sorry if this is a double post. How much loose hibiscus should I use with a half gallon of water?

  • Robert

    So, Dr Greger. Several people asked how much loose hibiscus is used. No one answered so I’ll ask you: How much loose hibiscus do you use in how much water?

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/ Michael Greger M.D.

      I use a handful in about a gallon of water.

  • New

    Celestial seasonings tea is contaminated with pesticides! See this report! Anyone know of a safe source for hibiscus tea? http://www.examiner.com/article/dangerously-high-pesticide-levels-found-celestial-seasonings-teas

  • Nutritarian

    Is this statement true: “Medical professionals already know that hibiscus can react with certain drugs and that it isn’t good for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.” It’s from this article:
    http://cooperaerobics.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/can-hibiscus-oust-hypertension/

    From Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s website, he of Aerobics fame.
    My daughter is breastfeeding and she drinks your hibiscus tea daily.
    We’re both big fans of yours. Should she skip the tea until she’s finished breastfeeding? Please advise.
    Thanks.

  • warfield Alexandre

    do you eat the tea leaves afterwards?

  • warfield Alexandre

    do you also eat the hibiscus after it has been brewed?

  • grateful vegan

    I get palpitations – my heart feels like it’s pumping too hard. Since drinking hibiscus tea these palpitations come quite frequently ie a few times a day. Is anything known about this effect?

  • Mark Hazell

    How does this compare to green tea? Does the antioxidants in green tea stay longer in the blood stream than the hibiscus tea?

  • Rita

    Hibiscus plants are sold everywhere, why not just have your plant and pick the flowers from it everyday? They are everywhere here in Texas at least and super easy to grow, you can even neglect them. They bloom lots everyday.

  • Cozmagoz

    Is hibiscus tea safe for children? My 6yo has a rooibos every day, if its good for her I’d like her to have hibiscus also.

  • Sandra

    My dogs used to eat the flowers of my perennial hibiscus plants, and I was worried about that causing a problem so I got rid of the plants. Does anyone know if it was o’kay for them to eat the flowers? I’d love to have them back in my yard!

  • Bataleon

    Dear Doc,

    Yesterday I made a mix of dried hibiscus petals (3 tsp) to 600mL water and sipped it over the course of an hour.

    After a while I started feeling woozy, lightheaded and slightly dizzy.

    Is this likely to be caused by the antihypertensive properties of the hibiscus?

    Many thanks

  • Calvin Leman

    With flowers and water in my bike water bottle, inside or on the bike, the bottle filters the flowers and drink all day.

  • Allen Ingle

    Dr. Greger,

    After looking at the following study: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814613001726

    It appears that daily consumption of more than 1L of Hibiscus tea is too much due to excessive aluminum present in the tea. I would imagine that consuming hibiscus powder or the entire hibiscus flower would be even less than 1L.

    What do you think?

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/ Michael Greger M.D.

      Thank you so much–looking forward to checking it out. Maybe I’ll make a video out of it!

  • Plantbased4life

    Any data on the arsenic contamination found in tea also present in Hibiscus. The question was prompted by this recent article and the safety of tea. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jt/2013/370460/ Thanks!

  • Sheri

    I think you are referring to Roselle Sabdariffa hibiscus, not the picture above which is clearly the ornamental hibiscus. You either dehydrate or simmer raw calyx for tea. You can add cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and a squeeze of lemon.

  • Sheri

    Just for reference the herbal hibiscus Roselle Sabdariffa’s flower looks like an okra flower, and about the same size as the okra flower.

  • Guest

    Hi Doctor. Hibiscus petals are notoriously high in acid content. Is it likely that drinking hibiscus tea over a long period of time may damage tooth enamel? Thanks

  • Sebastian Tristan

    I grind dried Hibiscus petals and then blend it with berries, dates, greens. The taste is indescribably good and original.

  • Anne McKay

    I seem to get palpitations if taking your recommended amount of hibiscus tea. Has anyone else experienced this that you know of? Many thanks Dr. Greger for all your hard work and dedication.

  • Matt

    Have you heard about Celestial Seasonings having pesticides in their tea? I have been drinking celestial teas such as red zinger so I ASSumed that they were a reputable brand.

    Would you care to shed any light on the subject?

    Here is a the source:

    https://glaucusresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2013/02/GlaucusResearch-The_Hain_Celestial_Group_Inc-NasdaqHAIN-Strong_Sell_Febuary_21_2013.pdf

  • Jorge Calvo

    Dr Mcgregor, can you please show us a study with regards to the eficacy of “ecklonia Clava” its aparently a very powerful seaweed antioxidant from japan with a huge whooping 12 hr lifespan effect in body. I’m rather dubious of it being more powerful than resveratrol found in japanee knotwood.

  • Mrs Chin

    Do you recommend drinking hibiscus tea for those already have breast cancer as I read there are some issue with hibiscus tea and estrogen.

  • http://batman-news.com Carl

    should I be worried about the extremely low ph levels of hibiscus tea? Could it wear the enamel off my teeth?

  • CrazyMonkey CrazyMonkey

    How quickly do you have to drink the ice tea before antioxidants start to decrease or do they not decrease?

  • Marie

    Do not take hibiscus with acetaminophen. If you search the web for this topic you will find warnings on medical sites stating studies show hibiscus tea may INCREASE the rate at which your body uses or processes acetaminophen. Not a problem for the occasional user but those with chronic pain who use this as a regular pain it may be worth noting. I will leave the debate about pain meds and their use to others to debate and will focus on the tea. I respect others right to do what they need to as part of an overall pain management plan that works for them.

  • Howard Johnson

    In this piece which I captured somewhere:

    What do you drink,
    Dr. Greger?

    Dr. Greger ~ Are you still
    drinking that yummy Hibiscus Tea? (I did not see it in your “morning mix”!)

    Kenton R. Mullins / Originally Posted in A Better Breakfast

    Answer:

    A half gallon a day Kenton! I no
    longer do the teabags, though, but the bulk dried hibiscus flowers themselves
    (why hibiscus? See Better Than Green Tea?). My current recipe is a handful of dried hibiscus petals
    in 8 cups of water with a penny sized chunk of fresh ginger root (see Plants vs. Pesticides), handful of fresh mint leaves (Antioxidants
    in a Pinch), teaspoon of amla (Amla: Indian gooseberries vs. cancer,
    diabetes, and cholesterol), and erythritol to taste (3 tablespoons for me–see A Harmless Artificial Sweetener)–all blended up in
    a high speed blender and then sipped throughout the day. I’m on the road right
    now and I sure miss my concoction!

    Anyone have any suggestions for improving it even further (taste
    or nutrition-wise)?

    UPDATE: Due to concerns about the
    manganese content, I’ve cut back to a quart a day of filtered.

    oh, here it is:

    http://nutritionfacts.org/questions/what-do-you-drink-dr-greger/

    I am somewhat concerned with the notation about manganese. What does that mean and how should I consider using that information?

    AND I purchased:

    Hibiscus Flowers-5Lb-Bulk Hibiscus Tea Flowers-Bulk

    Sold by Sweet Pea Spice

    Condition: New

    for $45 It says it comes from Jamaica From Amazon
    Anyone see any problem with using these flowers? I’m told by Jamaicans they drink this stuff all the time.

  • mommabearof3

    A friend of mine also has to stay away from oxalates due to kidney stones. She drinks fruit teas instead http://www.mysteepedteaparty.com/DianeForTea has lots of teas with/without hibiscus you can make yourself.

  • kworden

    I am following your advice to drink hibiscus tea made from organic bulk flowers and have been cold brewing it as you suggest. I have two questions: 1) I’ve read that it is a good idea to heat herbal teas to kill possible bacteria contamination because they haven’t been heated in the production process as “regular” (camellia sinensis) teas have. 2) I think i saw in one of your videos that heating actually increases the antioxidant content of teas anyway. Can you please comment? Thank you

  • peseta11

    I have no reference for 2g/day of Hibiscus/roselle calyces being a ‘dose’. but Nnam and Onyeke 2003 in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition vol.58 first article give amazingly high levels of iron in the tea. Aluminum and manganese are also problematic, but if the 2003 figures are near-accurate (and USDA, more modest, seems to lean that way, the prudent limit is 7/8 cup for pre-menopausal women.
    A pity; it tastes so good.