I walked slowly from an early morning workout and lifted my head to the sight of a delicate yellow hibiscus flower greeting me on my path. I stopped to enjoy and breathe in her beauty and remembered her story. I recalled a recent trip to Egypt and being greeted by the hotel staff with a refreshing chilled glass of hibiscus tea after a sweltering day of sight-seeing.
Hibiscus tea, Karkady, as it is called, is a luscious deep ruby red drink made from the Hibiscus sabdariffa plant using the dried calyces. It is refreshing served cold in the summer or hot and warming in winter. This herbal beverage provides relief during hot weather by increasing the flow of blood to the skin surface and dilating the pores to cool the skin. (4)
Herbal infusions with hibiscus have been used throughout Africa, Asia, India and the Middle East for millennia. They likely were introduced and spread by the trade and maritime routes. Approximately 50% of the plants, used in ancient Egypt for medical treatment, were in clinical use until the mid-twentieth century, and some of them are still in use today. The hibiscus flower is mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus (an ancient Egyptian medical document considered the most important text on Egyptian medicine and pharmacy written circa 1550 BC,) as a remedy for coughs and colds(1). Chinese folk medicine suggests a tea made from the calyces of the H. sabdariffa were used to treat liver disorders, high blood pressure and bacterial infections. (3,7)
Hibiscus is a genus of flowering plants in the mallow family, comprising several hundred species that are native to warm temperate, subtropical and tropical regions throughout the world (2). The one that graced me on my journey was Hibiscus brackenridgei, the state flower of Hawaii. Despite the flower’s fragility, it means immortality, life and courage. In other cultures, hibiscus means femininity, beauty and charm (5).
I arrived home shortly and reflected on my walk from the gym. I thanked the heavens for putting this beautiful treasure in my path and reminding me of the simple pleasures’ life offers daily. The universal suggestion of a chilled glass of hibiscus tea, provided perfect hydration and just what the doctor ordered.
Disclaimer- This blog is for information purposes only and does constitute nor substitute for medical advice nor recommendations for your health. Consult your physician or medical professional for advice pertaining to your health needs and concerns.