What is the Roselle Plant?
Hibiscus sabdariffa, or Roselle, is a shrub belonging to the Malvaceae family. In Iran, it is typically known as sour tea. In English-speaking countries, Roselle is called Red Sorrel. Originally from Africa and Carribean countries like West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago, it is now commonly cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions of the world particularly in India and Southeast Asia.
Roselle has been used as a therapeutic plant for centuries. Traditionally, it treats toothaches, urinary tract infections, colds, and even hangovers. In Senegal, roselle juice extracted from leaves is used to treat conjunctivitis and, when pulverized, soothes sores and ulcers.
One of the main reasons for the cultivation of roselle is to produce bast fibres which are extracted from the stem and are used as a substitute to jute. Hibiscus cannabinus is commonly cultivated in southern Asia for fibre extraction purposes.
Roselle is an easy to grow shrub and reaches tall heights. It can be easily identified with its bright red stems. It produces a lot of appealing flowers which have a distinctive look. And also, at every node, it produces a calyx. Fresh as well as dried calyces are an essential part and are used in food preparation.
Uses of the Roselle Plant
Roselle is an example of a plant that has many beneficial uses. The right person can use all its parts like the roselle calyces, leaves, stem, flower, etc for one purpose or the other. Some of these uses include:
This plant is quite famous for its many and fleshy calyces. The fresh calyces of red roselle are used to produce a bright red-colored, nice-tasting drink called the roselle juice or flor de jamaica. Also, some folks use the leaves of the roselle in their salads. When the roselle leaves are used in salads, they add a taste that is akin to spicy spinach mixed with some sour fruitiness. These leaves always add an exciting flavor.
The dried calyces and as well as the dried flower is also used as an essential ingredient in various recipes.
With a reputation for anti-aging properties, the roselle plant is quite popular in the beauty and skincare world. It has been used to make a face/body scrubs, facial steams, clay masks, etc. The roselle flowers are beneficial because of the antioxidants that they possess – these help to neutralize the effects of free radicals, and leaves you glowing with health.
Primarily, the Roselle is a flower, and so one of its primary uses is as part of flower arrangements. The red roselle flowers themselves can be used for medicinal purposes, or you could use its many fresh calyces as part of a unique touch for your decorative piece.
12 Roselle Plant Health Benefits
1. Menstrual Pain
- Provides relief from cramps and menstrual pain
- Helps in restoring hormonal balance (which can reduce other symptoms of menstruation like mood swings, depression, and overeating)
2. Anti-Inflammatory and Antibacterial Properties
- Hibiscus tea is rich in ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient required by our body to boost and stimulate the activity of your immune system. Fresh or dried flower of roselle contains high quantities of Vitamin C.
- Boosts immune system (prevents cold and flu)
- Anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties
- Helps to treat discomfort caused by fever (due to its cooling effect)
3. Aids Digestion
The seed capsule in the Roselle fruit is known for its diuretic and tonic properties. It is hence used for the following purposes:
- Increases both urination and bowel movements(due to its diuretic properties)
- Treats constipation
- Prevents colorectal cancer
4. Weight Loss
Hibiscus herbal tea is also beneficial for losing weight. If you consume food that is rich in carbohydrates, that means that it contains sugar and starch, so you are likely to gain weight. However, research studies have suggested that hibiscus extract lowers the absorption of starch and glucose and may help with weight loss.
Hibiscus inhibits the production of amylase, which helps in the absorption of carbohydrates and starch, so drinking hibiscus tea prevents that absorption from occurring. Therefore, hibiscus tea is found in many weight loss products.
5. Antidepressant Properties
- Contains antidepressant properties like flavonoids
- Helps to calm down the nervous system
- Helps to reduce anxiety and depression by creating a relaxed sensation in the body and mind.
6. Anti-Cancer Properties
Hibiscus herbal tea contains hibiscus protocatechuic acid which has anti-tumor and antioxidant properties. A study conducted by the Department and Institute of Biochemistry at the Chung Shan Medical and Dental College, in Taichung, Taiwan suggests that hibiscus slows down the growth of cancerous cells by inducing apoptosis, commonly known as programmed cell death.
7. Cough, Colds and Fever Management
According to the book “Healing Herbal Teas,” fresh hibiscus flowers contain around 6.7 mg of ascorbic acid, a form of vitamin C, which is one of the more essential nutrients needed by the body.
Along with this significantly beneficial substance, hibiscus is known to have anti-inflammatory and mild anti-bacterial properties. Thus hibiscus tea is often used as a supplement to help treat coughs and colds. Because of its cooling effect, it is especially effective in reducing the discomfort of fevers that may accompany such ailments.
8. Blood Pressure Management
A report from the AHA (American Heart Association) that was published in November of 2008 states that consuming hibiscus tea lowers the blood pressure in pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults. It also states that 1/3 of adults in the United States suffers from high blood pressure, which is also called hypertension.
A study conducted by Odigie IP suggests that it has anti-hypertensive and cardio-protective properties that can be beneficial to people suffering from hypertension and those at high risks of various cardiovascular diseases.
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, hibiscus tea can reduce blood pressure by up to 10 points, according to research done at Tufts University in Boston. For this drastic improvement to occur, you need to consume three cups every day for a few weeks. Also, hibiscus tea has diuretic properties that increase urination, simultaneously lowering blood pressure.
9. Protects Liver
- Antioxidant properties helps to treat liver diseases (Antioxidants help to protect your body from diseases because they neutralize the free radicals present in body tissues and cells)
10. Maintains Healthy Teeth and Gums
- This is due to the significant calcium content in red roselle
11. Healthy Pregnancy
Pregnant women should consume more iron rich foods than anyone else.
- Red Roselle is rich in iron
12. It tastes great!
Hibiscus herbal tea has a taste that is very similar to cranberry juice. It can definitely be described as tart, so you can add sugar or honey to increase the sweetness. Also, you can try adding spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger depending on your taste preferences