Hibiscus Rosa Sinensis

Hibiscus Rosa Sinensis Picture © Vincente Garcia 2002

Authors: Lana Dvorkin PharmD, Julia Whelan MS
This species is the Hibiscus of commerce, used in herbal teas and as a food coloring. Grown as a common ornamental plant with many varieties. Shrubs usually under 8' tall in cultivation but may be 15' tree in tropics. Ovoid glossy green separate leaves 6" long. Flowers in upper leaf axles, solitary, with petals 2-5" long and bright red, or at times pink, purple, orange, yellow, or white. Cultivars may be single, double and colored red, yellow, white or orange. Fruit is a 5-celled capsule each with 3 seeds. Grows primarily in the tropics and was originally cultivated in Asia.
Historical Uses
Antihelmintic, urethritis, headache, toothache, ear ache, asthma, boils, burns, cough, fever, laxative, litholytic, menstrual irregularity, prostate disorders. Used in Haiti and St Lucia for inflammation, trauma, diarrhea. Juice is used in Mexico for prevention of diarrhea. Costa Rica used as a purgative. Venezuela used to treat tumors. Used as analgesic, anti-inflammatory to treat trauma throughout the Caribbean. In the Dominican Republic and Venezuela used to treat hematomas.
Primarily in the tropics
Active Ingredients
Flowers--Flavanoids, apigenidine, palargonidine, cianidine, quercitine, crisantemin, antocyanine, kaempherol ,camphoral, citric and oxalic acids, tartaric acid, Juice--alkaloids, glycosides, triterpenoids, lipids, terpines, beta-sitosterol, teraxeril, cyanidic glycosides Miscellaneous-sucrose,fructose glucose
Proven Scientific Evidence
Hibiscus has demonstrated in-vitro antibacterial activity. It has proven hypotensive activity, and acts as an antispasmodic for uterine and intestinal spasms. There is insufficient data about other effects. Its chemopreventive (anticarcinogenic) activity has been documented. In diabetic rats, hibiscus lowered blood glucose, total cholesterol and serum triglycerides. Leaf extract (1%) in paraffin applied topically is more potent than flower extract in promoting hair growth. Flower extracts demonstrate many cardioactive effects in rats. Its has shown contragestative, antipregnancy, and halted implantation at 4 different doses in animal studies. Implantation failure correlates with increasing doses. One paper indicates that flowers collected in winter spring and rainy season have higher contraceptive action.
Dosage Information
For conjunctivitis, no one specific dose is recommended. As an antipyretic, patients drink 3 glasses per day of a decoction or infusion of 1-2 flowers/ 250 ml water steeped for 3-4 minutes.
No known toxicities aside from action as a contraceptive for both sexes due to antispermatogenic and abortifacient effects. Studied as abortifacient at 73mg/kg and 186mg/ kg in rats and 250mg/kg as antispermatogenic. Avoid in pregnancy.
Where Sold
Botañicas, flower and garden markets

1. Jellin JM. Natural medicines comprehensive database pharmacist's letter. prescriber's letter. Stockton, CA: Therapeutic Research Faculty; .

2. Wyk vB, Wink M. Medicinal Plants of the World: An Illustrated Scientific Guide to Important Medicinal Plants and their Uses. Portland Oregon: Timber Press; 2004.

3. Toll L,L., Hurlbut K,M. (Eds). POISINDEX® system. vol 119 expires 3/2004. Available at: http://www.micromedex.com/products/poisindex/. Accessed 2/22, 2004.

4. Germosén-Robineau L, Enda-Caribe, Universidad de Antioquía. Hacia Una Farmacopea Caribeña : Investigacion Cientifica y Uso Popular De Plantas Medicinales En El Caribe. Santo Domingo; Enda-Caribo: Republica Dominicana; UAG & Universidad de Antioquia; 1995.

5. Harsha VH, Hebbar SS, Hegde GR, Shripathi V. Ethnomedical knowledge of plants used by kunabi tribe of karnataka in india. Fitoterapia. 2002;73:281-287.

6. Shukla YN, Mishra M. An hydroxyacid and sterols from hibiscus rosa sinensis. Indian Drugs. 2001;38:543.

7. Srinivasan D, Nathan S, Suresh T, Lakshmana Perumalsamy P. Antimicrobial activity of certain indian medicinal plants used in folkloric medicine. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2001;74:217-220.

8. Sharma S, Khan N, Sultana S. Study on prevention of two-stage skin carcinogenesis by hibiscus rosa sinensis extract and the role of its chemical constituent, gentisic acid, in the inhibition of tumour promotion response and oxidative stress in mice. European Journal of Cancer Prevention. 2004;13:53-63.

9. Sachdewa A, Khemani LD. Effect of hibiscus rosa sinensis linn. ethanol flower extract on blood glucose and lipid profile in streptozotocin induced diabetes in rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2003;89:61-66.

10. Adhirajan N, Ravi Kumar T, Shanmugasundaram N, Babu M. In vivo and in vitro evaluation of hair growth potential of hibiscus rosa-sinensis linn. .

11. Kumaraguru S, Arul V, Dhananjayan R. Cardio-active effects of extracts derived from the flowers of hibiscus rosa-sinensis linn. Biomedicine. 2002;22:75-82.

12. Kabir SN, Bhattacharya K, Pal AK, Pakrashi A. Flowers of hibiscus rosa-sinensis, a potential source of contragestative agent: I. effect of benzene extract on implantation of mouse. Contraception. 1984;29:385-397.

13. Pal AK, Bhattacharya K, Kabir SN, Pakrashi A. Flowers of hibiscus rosa-sinensis, a potential source of contragestative agent: II. possible mode of action with reference to anti-implantation effect of the benzene extract. Contraception. 1985;32:517-529.

14. Pakrashi A, Bhattacharya K, Kabir SN, Pal AK. Flowers of hibiscus rosa-sinensis, a potential source of contragestative agent. III: Interceptive effect of benzene extract in mouse. Contraception.1986;34:523-536.

15. Singh MP, Singh RH, Udupa KN. Anti-fertility activity of a benzene extract of hibiscus rosa-sinensis flowers on female albino rats. Planta Med. 1982;44:171-174.

16. Kholkute SD. Effect of hibiscus rosa sinensis on spermatogenesis and accessory reproductive organs in rats. Planta Med. 1977;31:127-135.

17. Kholkute SD, Mudgal V, Udupa KN. Studies on the antifertility potentiality of hibiscus rosa sinensis. parts of medicinal value; selection of species and seasonal variations. Planta Med. 1977;31:35-39.

18. Kholkute SD, Udupa KN. Effects of hibiscus rosa sinensis on pregnancy of rats. Planta Med. 1976;29:321-329.

19. Damasceno DC, Volpato GT, Lemonica IP. A review of antifertility folkloric plants tested in laboratory animals. Revista Brasileira de Plantas Medicinais. 2002;5:19-26.

20. Vedavathy S, Mrudula V, Sudhakar A. Herbal medicines for birth control, ante- and post-partum treatments from chittoor district, andhra pradesh, india. Fitoterapia. 1995;66:501-506.

21. Davidow J. Infusions of Healing: A Treasury of Mexican-American Herbal Remedies. New York: Fireside; 1999.

22. Quiros_Moran D. Guide to Afro-Cuban Herbalism. Bloomington IN: 1st Books; 2003.



home BUSM