Hibiscus sabdariffa L. (Hs, roselle; Malvaceae) has been used traditionally as a food, in herbal drinks, in hot and cold beverages, as a flavouring agent in the food industry and as an herbal medicine. In vitro and in vivo studies as well as some clinical trials provide some evidence mostly for phytochemically poorly characterized Hibiscus extracts. It shows antibacterial, anti-oxidant, nephro- and hepato-protective, renal/diuretic effect, effects on lipid metabolism (anti-cholesterol), anti-diabetic and anti-hypertensive effects among others. This might be linked to strong antioxidant activities, inhibition of a-glucosidase and a-amylase, inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzymes (ACE), and direct vaso-relaxant effect or calcium channel modulation. Phenolic acids (esp. protocatechuic acid), organic acid (hydroxycitric ac and hibiscus acid) and anthocyanins (delphinidin-3-sambubioside and cyanidin-3-sambubioside) are likely to contribute to the reported effects. More well designed controlled clinical trials are needed which use phytochemically characterized preparations. Hibiscus has an excellent safety and tolerability record.
Hibiscus sabdariffa L. (Hs), also known as roselle, is an ideal crop for developing countries as it is relatively easy to grow, can be grown as part of multi-cropping systems and can be used as food and fibre. In China the seeds are used for their oil and the plant is used for its medicinal properties, while in West Africa the leaves and powdered seeds are used in meals. Additionally, it is used in the pharmaceutical and food industries. A limited number of reviews on Hs have been conducted. Only one detailed review on the phytochemical, pharmacological and toxicological properties of Hs (Ali, Al Wabel, & Blunden, 2005) and two more focused, later reviews are available: One on the effectiveness of Hs in the treatment of hypertension (Wahabi, Alansary, Al-Sabban, & Glasziuo, 2010) and another on the treatment of hypertension and hyperlipidemia (Hopkins, Lamm, Funk, & Ritenbaugh, 2013). This review will focus not only on the phytochemistry and pharmacological properties of Hs in more detail, but also on economic-botanical aspects of Hs, its scientific applications and translational research.