Hibiscuses leaves contain vitamin C and minerals and are known for their use in teas as a natural diuretic as well as for use traditionally as a mild medicine. In Africa, the hibiscus leaf is consumed as a vegetable and served in soups and sauces. Hibiscus sabdariffa is also used in folk medicine to treat hypertension and liver disorder, and is used to make popular soft drinks in various countries across the world.
In a new study published in the Journal of Food Science by the Institute of Food Technologists, researchers have discovered that Hibiscus sabdariffa leaf polyphenolic extract may induce human melanoma cell death. Melanoma is highly curable if caught early, but is much more likely than other forms of skin cancer to spread if left untreated. They say it may also serve as a chemotherapeutic agent to eliminate cancer cells without significant harmful effects to normal cells.
This studys findings support the idea that cancer patients may benefit from consuming HLP as a complementary medicine to their treatments. Previous studies have demonstrated that polyphenolic compounds in edible plants have various pharmacological benefits including as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carconogenic and for anti-antherogenic effects.
A 2004 study reported that Hibiscus flower extract may have the same health benefits as red wine and tea according to research by scientists in Taiwan. Hibiscus contains antioxidants that help control cholesterol levels and reduce heart disease, says the research in Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
The researchers at Chung Shan Medical University in the Republic of China found that the antioxidant properties of flavonoids, polyphenolic compounds and anthocyanins contained in the flower can prevent the oxidation of Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL), which is associated with the disease. The data strongly suggest that the extract has potential to prevent cholesterol deposition and may therefore be useful in the prevention and even treatment of a number of cardiovascular diseases in which cholesterol plays a major role.