By Thomas Cowan, M.D.
A meta-analysis published in a medical journal is a compilation of all the recently published articles in peer-reviewed medical journals about a particular subject. One such article in the leading hypertension journal in the world (called The Journal of Hypertension) in 2015 announced that extracts of Hibiscus Sabdariffa lowered both systolic and diastolic pressures a significant amount and roughly equivalent to the lowering one sees with front-line hypertension drugs.
Unlike hypertensive drugs and their myriad side effects, hibiscus extracts were also shown to reduce inflammation, lower abdominal fat, reduce serum triglyceride levels, improve liver function and protect the kidneys. Yet, despite this breakthrough, it is rare for a medical doctor to prescribe hibiscus extracts to the millions of patients in this country on hypertensive drugs.
One response I’ve heard to explain why hibiscus is not used as a first-line hypertensive therapy is, “we don’t understand how hibiscus extracts work, therefore, we can’t use it.” My first reaction is, given the evidence of its effectiveness and safety, it is hard to understand why this question is even relevant. However, let me try to address the possible mechanism whereby hibiscus not only lowers blood pressure but also provides many other benefits.
Those who have read my new heart book, Human Heart, Cosmic Heart, know that I reject the commonly held idea that the blood in the human body flows because the heart pumps it. Rather, the blood flows as a result of the interaction of the hydrophilic substances in the blood vessel walls and the water in the blood. The charged substances in the blood vessel walls, along with sunlight, the electromagnetic energy from the earth and the energy transmitted by human touch, work together to structure the water in the blood. This structured water in the blood forms a gel-like, charged plasma phase, which is easily able to propel the blood along its course.
If this system breaks down, as a result of insufficient sun exposure, consumption of dead or unstructured water, or insufficient hydrophilic substances in the blood vessel walls, the flow weakens. The body’s only possible response to this weakened flow is to “squeeze” the vessels (thereby increasing flow) but at the cost of increasing the pressure. This is a costly compromise the body has to make. Our goal in treating or preventing this increase in blood pressure should be to keep this healthy system intact so the response of increasing the pressure never needs to occur.
This is where hibiscus extract comes in. We know from research that the active components of the hibiscus extract are the chemicals known as polyphenols. Without the polyphenols, blood pressure is not lowered. Polyphenols are highly charged chemicals that can interact with and be incorporated into the blood vessel walls. These strengthened blood vessels become more resistant to inflammation, and the polyphenols – which are highly charged molecules — structure the water in the blood, hence increasing the charge of the blood and, ultimately, the flow of the blood. Once the flow is restored, the system is restored to health and the pressure can relax.
This explanation is also exactly why I use the hibiscus concentrate made for us by Agroindustries Rosas in Santa Barbara. Not only is this a cold-pressed extract of the finest organically grown hibiscus flowers, but they also make the concentrate with structured water to further enhance its effect on the blood pressure.
The usual dose is 1 to 3 teaspoons twice a day in a cup of water. It can take three to four weeks to start to lower the pressure, but it has proven for years to be a very effective first-line treatment for this common problem affecting millions of Americans.