Origin of Karkade (Hibiscus)
Karkade tea, or hibiscus tea, (Hibiscus sabdariffa) originated from North Africa, possibly Egypt, and is said to have been popular with the Ancient Pharaohs. It is mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus of 1550BC (an ancient medical document) for its healing properties. The deep red tangy, fruity flavoured tea, reminiscent of cranberry juice but less sour, is an infusion made from the crimson sepals of the Hibiscus flower and is extremely refreshing. It is a popular drink throughout Africa, served cold in the summer and warm in the winter. Wedding celebrations in Egypt and Sudan are traditionally toasted with a glass of hibiscus tea.
Hibiscus is extremely rich in vitamin C and contains minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, zinc, sodium, potassium, iron, copper, magnesium, plus flavonoids, anthocyanins, pectin, mucus polysaccharides and phytosterols. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, antiasthenic, diuretic, purifying and antispasmodic properties. Since it also contains melatonin, it’s also a great aid to getting a good night’s sleep. Traditionally used as a diuretic, mild laxative, a treatment for cardiac and nerve diseases, as well as being mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus as a remedy for coughs, many studies are now confirming the wonderful health benefits of hibiscus which makes it a fantastic addition to your daily diet.
Detoxify the body, boost the immune system and protect vital organs
Antioxidants, together with the anti-inflammatory properties, can assist in ridding the body of harmful free radicals, helping to protect the body against oxidative stress, ageing and certain chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, neurodegenerative disorders, cancer, ageing and a weakened immune system. Hibiscus tea is known to have one of the highest amounts of antioxidants out of all the herbal teas. In one study the effect of harmful free radicals on rats were reduced by up to 92%. Hibiscus contains a powerful antioxidant called anthocyanin which reduces the risk of chronic diseases. The tea also has a high content of Vitamin C and iron, known to keep the immune system healthy and strong, allowing the body to fight common infections, viruses and afflictions. Preliminary research has shown that Hibiscus does indeed decrease blood pressure and may even be as effective as some prescription drugs for those suffering from high blood pressure in the mild to moderate range. In fact it seems to have many benefits for the cardiovascular system, as it may also stabilise cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Furthermore, studies have shown that it may boost liver health, acting as a diuretic, and improving liver steatosis and increasing detoxifying enzymes in the liver, in addition to also helping to restore and support damaged kidneys. The entire urinary tract is protected by the antimicrobial and antifungal properties, reducing infections. What’s more a study found that people with urinary catheters, living in long-term care facilities and drinking the tea daily, were 36% less likely to have a urinary tract infection. The tea is high in polyphenols, which are known as powerful anti-cancer compounds, and scientific tests have so far been very encouraging against several types of cancer.
Could Promote Weight Loss
Karkade Tea contains flavonoids which help to regulate lipid metabolism and boost fat breakdown, so it’s a great beverage for after a meal. The fresh flavour can also reduce the cravings for something sweet. By lowering blood sugar the tea encourages a healthy metabolism, decreases the appetite and helps to prevent weight gain. Human and animal trials regarding weight loss reported that all subjects showed a reduction in overall weight, body fat, and hip to waist ratio.
Could Help Fight Bacteria and viruses
Antiviral and antibacterial, this tea is perfect to protect the body against viral and bacterial diseases. It may even inhibit E coli activity. A perfect beverage for those suffering from chest and sinus congestion and inflammation through cold, flu, bronchitis or asthma, the anti-inflammatory & antispasmodic properties will relax the trachea and bronchial tract, protecting against a cough and irritated throat.
Karkade Tea contains naturally occurring compounds known as phytoestrogens that function similarly to mammalian oestrogens and increase estrogen levels in the body which can have a multitude of health benefits, including a lowered risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, breast cancer, and promoting a normal menstrual flow, relieving fatigue and depression, and minimising PMT. It will also help to relieve cramps associated with menstruation by smoothing the muscles and acting as a natural painkiller and, since it affects estrogen, can also help to regulate menstruation. This tea is also an excellent remedy to counteract the hormonal changes occurring during menopause and alleviating symptoms.
How to Prepare Karkade (Hibiscus) Tea
Hot drink: pour boiling water over the hibiscus petals and leave to steep for five minutes.
Cold drink: pour cooled boiled water over the hibiscus petals and leave for several hours. Add sugar, honey or a squeeze of lime to taste.
Bear in mind that cold karkade tea lowers blood pressure, while hot karkade tea increases it. Karkade is not recommended for expectant or nursing mothers or for people on blood pressure medication.