Could the same flower that lore says raises your chance of finding a heart full of love also lower your blood pressure? Maybe, according to recent research noted in HerbClip, from the American Botanical Council.
Tahitian folklore holds that a hibiscus flower worn over the right ear signals that a person is looking for a mate (over the left ear means “taken”). The study, however, was focused on people looking to lower their blood pressure. Nigerian researchers found that hibiscus did a better job doing so than a leading pharmaceutical.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects about 20 percent of the world’s population, according to HerbClip. It’s one of the risk factors of cardiovascular disease and the main risk factor for stroke. Drugs to lower blood pressure are among the most commonly prescribed medicines in the United States, with more than 700 million prescriptions filled annually.
The small study, published in the Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice, included 75 subjects with mild to moderate hypertension. They were randomly assigned to three groups. For a month, each group received a daily dose of hibiscus, hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, a leading prescription medication) or a placebo.
Those who took hibiscus saw blood pressure lower significantly more than the HCTZ, according to researchers. How might the flower work? HerbClip notes that previous studies have shown that hibiscus appears to act as a vasodilator and diuretic, suppresses uptake of calcium ions, and slows angiotensin-converting enzyme (the “ACE,” in ACE inhibitors).