ABC's Headquarters as an Educational Tool
ABC is headquartered on the east side of Austin, Texas, in a renovated historic homestead which was built in the 1850s. The 2.5-acre site is landscaped with more than 30 demonstration herb gardens, mostly medicinal, and features a greenhouse, a rainwater collection system and incorporates “green” practices in the buildings and grounds. The “Annex” or Herbal Education and Research Center houses the library, an archive of resources and historical documents, plus a conference room used for classes and events.
While ABC grounds are open during working hours to the public, on October 4th, from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., ABC will host a special Open House for the public. It will include an Herb Walk led by Roy Upton, Executive Director of the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia. Come see us if you can.
Herb of the Month
Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa, Malvaceae)
Known as hibiscus, roselle, karkadé, and jamaica (ha-MIKE-ah), Hibiscus sabdariffa is a shrubby plant native to the Old World tropics, specifically North Africa and Southeast Asia. A heat and sun-loving plant, hibiscus produces light yellow or cream flowers with reddish-purple centers in summer. After the petals drop, deep red calyces (cup-like structures formed by the sepals) remain that resemble flower buds. Most of the plant's commercial and medicinal value is contained in these calyces.
Hibiscus teas (infusions) and other beverages are drunk in Jamaica, Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Panama, Egypt, Sudan, Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, Thailand, and Malaysia. It is a relatively common ingredient in commercial herbal teas and can be found readily in herb, health food, and Mexican grocery stores. It makes an interesting background plant in the sunny, warm climate garden but, for those who enjoy hibiscus tea, it would be hard to grow enough in a home garden to satisfy their needs.
Hibiscus has antioxidant, antihypertensive, diuretic and uricosuric (increases the excretion of uric acid in the urine) properties. Recent studies suggest that hibiscus may help with metabolic syndrome, specifically in lowering blood glucose, triglyceride, and total cholesterol levels. It has been shown to lower blood pressure in pre- and mildly hypertensive adults and may prove to be an effective dietary control for blood pressure in this population.
Read the Hibiscus profile in HerbalGram 74.
Read the latest Hibiscus sabdariffa research in HerbMedPro...
ABC members have access to additional hibiscus resources online.
September's selected book excerpt comes from The H.E.R.B.A.L. Guide: Dietary Supplement Resources for the Clinician, edited by Robert A. Bonakdar and published in 2010. This excerpt contains the book's foreword, preface, table of contents, and Chapter 31, "Supplements Evaluated in Clinical Trials: Why Specific Formulations Matter," contributed by Marilyn Barrett. All are available here.
©2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Herbal Recipe of the Month
Making Hibiscus Herbal Tea Blends
In truth, "teas" made with hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) should be called tisanes (tĭ-zănz, -zänz), herbal infusions made from anything other than true tea (Camellia sinensis) drunk for their medicinal effect. In addition to its antihypertensive, antioxidant and diuretic effects, hibiscus is a mild refrigerant so it makes a great iced summer beverage, alone or in combination with other herbs. However, it can also be combined with warming herbs for a warm winter beverage.
A traditional Christmas drink is made in Jamaica by putting hibiscus into an earthenware container with a little grated ginger and sugar as desired, pouring boiling water over it and letting it steep overnight. The liquid is drained off and served over ice, often with a smidge of rum.
Brewing Basic Hibiscus Tea
Heat 1 cup filtered or spring water to just before boiling for each teaspoon of hibiscus (1 gallon per cup of hibiscus for a larger batch). Pour over the hibiscus, cover, and let steep until cool enough to drink for hot tea or until cool enough to refrigerate or pour over ice for iced tea. The longer it steeps, the stronger it will be. Hibiscus is normally a bit tart and tangy (it's called sour tea in Iran) so sweeten it a little if you need to. Agave nectar, honey and raw sugar all work but, if you are trying to stay away from these sweeteners, try adding a little white grape juice instead.
Hibiscus has no caffeine but, when drinking it in the evening, keep in mind that it is mildly diuretic!
Below are some suggested herbs and other things to combine with hibiscus. These are all 1 cup ratios unless stated otherwise but remember that these are just guidelines. Experiment a little to learn what appeals to your personal palate. If you make it too strong, you can always water it down. When you find a blend you like, make up a batch to share with loved ones over the holidays. A jar of hibiscus blend tea makes a cheerful gift.
- Combine with 1 teaspoon mint for a cooling, refreshing drink. If you use peppermint, you will get the added benefit of soothing the tummy.
- Pair with 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger for a warming drink.
- For a warming drink that also settles digestion, combine with 1/4 teaspoon each ginger, clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- Simmer 1/2 cup hawthorn berries, 1/2 cup rose hips, 1/2 cup elderberries, 1/2 cup lemon or orange peel, 1/2 cup other dried berries or cherries in 3 quarts water for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and add 1 cup hibiscus and 1 cup mint. Steep for 5-10 minutes. Can be served warm or iced. Combine 1/3 cup white grape juice or sparkling water to each 2/3 cup tea and add ice for a great party punch.
- Add 1 teaspoon lemon balm for a yummy tea that will help you relax.
- Add a squeeze of lime to a glass of iced hibiscus tea for a summer afternoon cooler.
- Another summer cooler idea - Combine 3 cups hibiscus tea with 1 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup lime juice, lime zest, sweetener. Serve over ice.
- Pink lemonade: 1 qt. hibiscus tea, juice of 4-5 lemons, 1 cup white grape juice.
There are many other possible combinations. Just use your imagination and...
HerbalGram Issue #87 Available Online
HerbalGram 87 includes a review of the historic and current medicinal uses for hops, highlighting the plant's value beyond beer production. Also included is a Dear Reader column on the Journal of the American College of Cardiology's refusal to retract an error-riddled herb-drug interaction article and research reviews on green tea and pelargonium.
ABC members have full access to the entire Magazine online in addition to having the gorgeous 4-color, 84-page magazine mailed to them on a quarterly basis. Join ABC or learn about more membership benefits.
Check out the newest e-cards at ABC's e-card page...