Every time I look out my window here in South Florida, I’m back in Bali. The vibrant pink and red hibiscus flowers growing in my garden remind me of this island paradise. You see, in Bali, hibiscus is everywhere. It grows wild along roadsides and deep in the jungles.
In all these places, hibiscus has a long history of medicinal use. It’s used for high blood pressure… liver disease… fever… sore throat… wound healing… constipation… and even cancer.In the U.S., these flowers are bright additions to any garden. But in Bali, the Hibiscus sabdariffa plant is powerful medicine. The same is true in other subtropical places like Jamaica, India, Malaysia, Africa and Brazil.
I like it when cultures from all over the world use the same plant for the same remedies. It proves they are true healing agents. But it turns out hibiscus does even more. It’s also a powerful anti-aging force for your whole body.
You see, hibiscus is one of the richest sources of antioxidants in the entire plant world. A team of international researchers ranked it number one. It beat out coffee and even green tea. And it has 3.5 times the amount of antioxidants as red wine.1
Hibiscus came out on top thanks to anthocyanins. These super-antioxidants are in the vivid pigments of the flower. They’re in the same purples and reds that give berries and grapes their superfood status.
Anthocyanins are anti-aging molecules. They work throughout your body. In your skin, they help prevent free radical damage that can make you look tired and old. They protect your collagen matrix, the main support structure of your skin. They also inhibit the breakdown of elastin. So they help maintain your skin’s elasticity and youthful firmness with fewer wrinkles.
Antioxidants in hibiscus also keep you young by protecting your telomeres.
You know by now that telomeres are like little fuses at the ends of your DNA strands. As your cells divide, the fuses burn down. When your telomeres get too short, your cells stop dividing. New cells no longer replace damaged ones. You’re left with older cells that lead to wrinkles, dull skin and all the other annoying signs of aging.
Studies show antioxidants like the ones in hibiscus turn on your body’s natural enzyme called telomerase. This enzyme preserves and even lengthens telomeres. In other words, these antioxidants slow down telomere shortening and delay the aging of cells.2
Hibiscus also acts as an astringent. It tightens up pores and makes them appear smaller. That’s because it’s rich in alpha hydroxy acid, the active ingredient in many chemical facial peels. These chemical peels erase fine lines and wrinkles, and give skin a smoother appearance. They exfoliate your skin, remove surface scars and speed up cell renewal.
Hibiscus can give you the same results without the harsh effects of a chemical peel… like severe redness, flaking and oozing that can last for up to a month. You see, it never strips your skin of its natural oils or dries it out.
In other words, hibiscus can keep your skin looking naturally young and vibrant. It works so well at firming, lifting and reversing the look of skin aging that it’s been called the “botox plant.”
Because it is such a powerful antioxidant, I like getting some hibiscus every day. I often make a big pitcher of cold hibiscus tea and sip it throughout the day. Studies show it can restore antioxidant levels within just one hour of drinking it.3
Hibiscus tea is easy to make. I use Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger tea. It has a nice blend of hibiscus, rosehips, orange peel and lemongrass. But you can use any tea that lists hibiscus as the first ingredient. You might also see it called sour tea, red tea, flor de Jamaica, sorrel or roselle.
Just place four tea bags in 8 cups of water and let it steep overnight in the refrigerator. Remove the bags in the morning and add the juice of one lemon. The brewed tea will have a tart taste, almost like cranberry. You may want to add some honey or stevia as a sweetener.
In beauty products, look for natural facial toners, serums and moisturizers containing hibiscus or an extract of hibiscus.
You can also find hibiscus in supplement form. The exact dosage depends on the condition you are using it to treat. But for anti-aging benefits, 40-50 mg a day is enough.
I’ve also added hibiscus extract to a new skin care formula I’ll be releasing soon. A few of the women on my staff have already sampled it — and they’re going crazy for it!
I’ll have more details for you very soon…
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Carlsen MH et al, “The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide.” Nutr J. 2010 Jan 22;9:3.
2. Furumoto K et al, “Age-dependent telomere shortening is slowed down by enrichment of intracellular vitamin C via suppression of oxidative stress.” Life Sci 1998;63:935–48.
3. T. Frank et al, “Consumption of Hibiscus sabdariffa L. Aqueous extract and its impact on systemic antioxidant potential in healthy subjects.”J. Sci. Food Agric. 2012; 92(10):2207 – 2218.