It is already known that hibiscus tea, the infusion prepared with hibiscus flowers, is a healthy drink. And from today we add a new, very important benefit. In fact, a compound isolated from hibiscus flowers has been shown to effectively counter Alzheimer's, as emerges from a very recent scientific research published in the journal Alzheimer's Research and Therapy by a Korean team (Kyung Won Jo et al, Alzheimer's Research and Therapy, Oct 2022).
The healthy properties of hibiscus tea
Hibiscus flowers, scientific name Hibiscus Sabdariffa, are commonly found in dried form and are used to prepare a well-known and appreciated infusion. From previous studies, the antihypertensive action of hibiscus is known, capable of reducing blood pressure, when elevated. Not only that, hibiscus tea has been shown to improve cholesterol values, increasing good cholesterol and at the same time reducing bad cholesterol and triglycerides (Hopkins et al, Phytotherapy, 2013). In addition, hibiscus tea is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and counteracts obesity, inhibiting the accumulation of fat (Ojulari et al, Molecules, 2019). Precisely because of the richness in antioxidant substances, the researchers of the study we are talking about today wondered if hibiscus could also be an ally against Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer's, what it is and its causes
Alzheimer's is a degenerative disease characterized by the presence of toxic accumulations of beta amyloid and tau proteins in the brain. Microglia cells, which are cells involved in the defense of the central nervous system, become activated and engulf these aggregates, removing them and thus protecting the brain. However, a continuous and high production of these aggregates weakens the microglia cells, which are gradually no longer able to cope with their task. The protein aggregates continue to accumulate, an inflammatory response is triggered and this is the beginning of the development of Alzheimer's disease, with damage to neurons, memory loss and decline in cognitive function.
Hibiscus gossypetin fights Alzheimer's, the study
Scientists have isolated from hibiscus flowers a compound, called gossypetin, with antioxidant, anticancer and anti-arteriosclerotic properties and with an action, proven in vitro, against the accumulations of beta amyloid and tau proteins. The study therefore wanted to test the neuroprotective action of gossypetin in vivo. The research was carried out in the laboratory on a population of mice that presented brain alterations similar to human Alzheimer's. The researchers gave the mice gossypetin for three months. What emerged was that, at the end of the study, memory and cognitive function had been almost completely restored, returning to normal levels. Not only that, the intake of gossypetin also made it possible to reduce the values of the aggregates of tau and beta amyloid proteins. Analyzing in more detail, it was found that gossypetin acted with a dual action. On the one hand, it inhibited chronic inflammation, on the other it activated microglia cells, promoting their phagocytosis action on toxic aggregates. The study also made it possible to demonstrate that the action of removing these aggregates is valid as prevention and treatment for dementia.
Conclusions and suggestions for the preparation of hibiscus tea
Gossypetin is therefore a candidate to be the basis for future treatments against Alzheimer's disease. While waiting for science to take its course and develop drugs with this natural substance, we can resort to hibiscus flowers by preparing a good tea. As we have seen, hibiscus tea is healthy, it helps us fill up on antioxidants, counteracts cellular degeneration and protects the heart, reducing cholesterol and blood pressure. And we now know that it helps keep our brain healthy by promoting the removal of toxic aggregates. We add that the antihypertensive action of hibiscus tea also contributes to brain health, since high blood pressure is related to an increased risk of developing neurodegeneration. And how to prepare hibiscus tea? Bring a liter of water to a boil. Remove from the heat and add two tablespoons of dried hibiscus flowers for about 6-8 minutes. Filter and drink hot or cold. An extra note? You can add a small glass of pomegranate juice, which gives sweetness and other precious antioxidants and anti-aging substances.