Hibiscus is the name given to more than 250 species of herbs, shrubs, and trees of the Malvaceae family. In southern Africa, the most commonly used species of hibiscus are hibiscus sabdariffa and hibiscus irritants.
Hibiscus is renowned for its beauty as well as its medicinal uses and forms an integral part of African culture. It is used for its beauty in gardens as well as medicinal, cultural and nutritional purposes. Its tea (sour tea) is appreciated for its refreshing properties.
This page will focus on the hibiscus irritants and hibiscus sabdariffa only.
It is commonly found in the Eastern seaboard of South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Two clinical trials have confirmed the antihypertensive effect using hibiscus sabdariffa watery infusions. Considering the high prevalence of hypertension, its debilitating end organ damage, and the side effects of drugs used for its treatment, we conducted this experimental study to evaluate the effect of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on essential hypertension.
The hibiscus irritants and hibiscus sabdariffa are mainly used as teas or washes. Teas are used for bile, coughs, high blood pressure, dysmenorrhoea, menorrhagia, PMS, tonic, dyspepsia, to relieve pressure in the gallbladder, and to relax the uterus. The both plants are used as a wash to treat weeping eczema.
In Kwazulu Natal, Swaziland and southern Mozambique, the fresh leaves of the hibiscus irritants are inserted into the vagina to treat the chronic symptoms of PMS, excessive bleeding and infertility. This plant together with Mathema seems to be particularly effective for endometriosis, menorrhagia and fibrosis.