It's absolutely important to keep your blood pressure under control. Nine years ago, Lucy came to see me. She was on Lisinopril, a blood pressure-lowering medication. The medication had lowered her blood pressure some, but not enough to satisfy her doctor. She came to see me because she had tried two additional medicines that gave her side effects. They made her feel tired and, as she described, "depressed."
I recommended Lucy begin drinking hibiscus tea with a squirt of lemon to taste. Lucy sweetened this with stevia and reported enjoying it. She drank three cups a day. In one month, when she returned to her cardiologist, Lucy's blood pressure was the best it had been in four years. It was so good, in fact, that her cardiologist phoned me to inquire about the "red tea." He was impressed.
But Lucy's experience isn't an exception. One study conducted in Nigeria and published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology compared the effects of an extract of Hibiscus sabdariffa and a common blood pressure medication called lisinopril. Hibiscus sabdariffa is the scientific name of a hibiscus species native to West Africa. You can make it into a tea, which has been a mainstay in traditional medicine for centuries.
For this study, researchers divided 75 participants between the ages of 31 and 70 into three groups. All of the participants had newly diagnosed mild to moderate hypertension. One group received a placebo. The second received 10 mg/day of lisinopril. And the third received 150 mg per day of a hibiscus infusion made from 20 g of dried hibiscus calyces infused in 1 L of water for 30 minutes. The study lasted for four weeks, with the researchers monitoring the participants' blood pressure weekly.
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The group receiving the lisinopril fared pretty well. In fact, blood pressure normalized for 65% of them. By week four, both their systolic and their diastolic blood pressure had decreased significantly compared to the placebo group.
But the hibiscus group fared even better. In fact, 76% of them experienced normalized blood pressure by the end of the four weeks. And their systolic blood pressure decreased significantly by week two. Moreover, three of the participants in the lisinopril group developed a cough (a noted side effect of ACE inhibitors) and had to drop out of the study. None of the hibiscus group members experienced any adverse effects.
Hypertension and cardiovascular disease incidence and risk factors vary greatly among populations. However, other studies have confirmed the efficacy of hibiscus in lowering blood pressure among a variety of different people. So the results will likely apply to just about anyone.
If you have high blood pressure or if you are pre-hypertensive, hibiscus tea may help you bring it down. Or if you prefer not to add another beverage to your rotation, you can give Advanced Blood Pressure Support a try. It contains hibiscus, as well as a blend of 11 Chinese herbs, which traditional Chinese medicine has used safely for thousands of years, and magnesium to support your healthy blood pressure levels. But as always, be sure to talk to your doctor before you change any medication to ensure you can do so safely.