Hibiscus Flower (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
Hibiscus sabdariffa is an annual herb with a woody lower stem and long narrow leaves. It is thought to be native to India, Indonesia, Malaysia and West Africa. Sabdariffa is also known as roselle, karkade, jelly okra, Java jute, Jamaican sorrel and Florida cranberry.
Roselle’s flowers are pale yellow with deep red or purple colored centres. A fleshy, fruit calyx forms once the flowers have bloomed and withered. The fruit’s kidney shaped seeds are encased within the calyx.
The calyxes are harvested by hand in the autumn, and the juicy outer covering is separated from the seed pods. They are left to dry, processed immediately or sold fresh; the seed pods are opened to process the seeds.
All above ground parts of the roselle have been used and valued for centuries in traditional herbal medicine; the roselle has long been used in herbal medicines, particularly in Indian Ayurveda, Thai traditions, Mexico and parts of Africa.
The plant contains some of the same flavonoids, polyphenols and anthocyanins as red wine. Taken internally these anti-oxidants have been shown to lower bad cholesterol and blood pressure.
Hibiscus seed oil is high in linoleic and oleic fatty acids, and contains a form of vitamin E, a fat soluble antioxidant.
Vitamin E has many benefits. It is considered important for cell protection, and for the healthy maintenance of our immune system and skin. It is said to be both anti-inflammatory and analgesic. Studies have shown that topical application can decrease roughness of the skin, dryness and fine lines.
Oleic acid (omega-9) is also found in olive oil and is one of the most beneficial substances for our internal and external health. Linoleic (omega-6) is an essential fatty acid required for wound healing and for the formation of healthy cells.
These fatty acids in hibiscus seed oil, combined with vitamin E, means that topical application will likely help to alleviate dry skin and discoloration.