Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

scientific name: 
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Shrub, 1-4 m high.  Leaves 15cm x 10cm, spiraling around the stem,ovate, acute to acuminate at the tip, marginsserrate; flowers solitary, born on long stalks, in the axils of the upper leaves, epicalyx of 5-7 bractioles about 1 cm long, calyx cup-shaped 2.5cm long, corolla short-lived, showy, mainly red, but other varieties range frompurplish-red, yellow or orangeto white,variable in size,from 6-10cm,staminal tube longer than petals; capsules, rarely produced are oblong ca. 3 cm long, seeds globose ca.3 mm in diameter.


Rouzier,252,SOE Longuefosse&Nossin,19,HAVPM Martínez,4739,ROIG


  flower or leaf, infusion or decoction, orally2-3


  flower or leaf, infusion or decoction, orally2-3


  flower or leaf, infusion or decoction, orally2-3


  leaf, juice, instillation1

The flower of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is widely used for human consumption or as a spice.

For conjunctivitis:

There is no available information establishing a means of preparation and dosage other than that referred to by traditional use.

For fever, flu and cough:

Prepare a decoction or infusion with 1–2 flowers in 250 mL (1 cup) of water.

For decoction, boil for at least 3-4 minutes2-3 in a covered pot; for infusion, add boiling water to the flowers, cover and leave to cool down.  Filter and drink 1 cup 3 times a day.

According to published and other information:

Topical use for conjunctivitis is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use (OMS/WHO)4 documented in the TRAMIL surveys.

In the event of conjunctivitis, there is a risk of increasing irritation further as a result of applying the leaf juice.  In any application to the eye, strict hygienic measures should be observed in order to avoid contamination or additional infection.  Contact with any substances that may be irritating to the conjunctiva should be avoided.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should conjunctivitis last more than 3 days, seek medical attention.

Oral use for fever, flu and cough is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use (OMS/WHO)4 documented in the TRAMIL surveys.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should fever last more than 2 days, or cough persist for more than 5 days, seek medical attention.

Due to risk of abortion, not for oral use during pregnancy nor during lactation or by children under 10 years old.

TRAMIL Research13

The aqueous extract (30%) from the leaf, using the Draize method for eye toxicity in New Zealand rabbit, did not cause irritation.

TRAMIL Research24

The crushed fresh leaf was applied topically on the skin (0.6 g plant material on an area of approximately 6 cm2) of male New Zealand rabbits. After 6 hours the compress was removed and observations made of erythema and edema after 24, 48 and 72 hours. No evidence of irritation was found and the fresh crushed leaf may therefore be categorized as non-irritant.

The hydroethanolic extract (50%) from the dried aerial parts, administered orally to male and female mice, gave an LD50 = 1 g/kg15.

The alcoholic extract (70%) from the dried leaf, administered intraperitoneally to mouse, resulted in an LD50 = 1.53 g/kg16.

The fraction of benzene extract from the fresh flower, which is insoluble in water and soluble in ether, when administered orally to pregnant mice (73 and 186 mg/kg), proved abortifacient19.

The benzene extract from the flower, administered orally to rats (186 mg/kg), caused abortifacient effects; while the ethanolic extract (95%), at a dose of 250 mg/animal, caused antispermatogenic effects20.  Other reports on the flower extract cite contraceptive activity in human adult22, antispermatogenic activity in male rat and embryotoxic properties in the fetus of rat21.

In a screening of 1,083 adult women, 500 received 800 mg tablets of a mix of the flower and other plants (Embelia ribes and Ferula foetida in equal proportions) 3 times/day during 6 months.  No evidence of toxicity was reported23.

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or women while breast feeding.

The flower contains flavonoids: apigenin, pelargonidin5, cyanidin, quercetin, chrysanthemin (cyanidin 3-O-glucoside); organic acids: citric, oxalic, tartaric6-7.

The leaf contains lipids, alkanes, triterpenes: taraxerol; sterols: b-sitosterol8-11.

Proximate analysis of 100 g of flower12: calories: 36; water: 89.8%; protein: 0.4%; fat: 0.4%; carbohydrate: 8.8%; fiber: 1.6%; ash: 0.6%; calcium: 4 mg; phosphorus: 27 mg; iron: 1.7 mg; thiamine: 0.03 mg; riboflavin: 0.05 mg; niacin: 0.60 mg; ascorbic acid: 4 mg.

TRAMIL Research13

The aqueous extract (30%) (decoction) from the leaf, using the Draize method for assessment of ocular anti-inflammatory activity in New Zealand rabbit, reduced experimentally-induced inflammation in a minor degree, as well as inflammatory injuries in cornea and iris.

TRAMIL Research25

The aqueous extract (maceration) from the flower, did not show any antimicrobial activity in vitro (359 µg/mL) against Staphylococcus aureus nor Haemophilus influenzae.

The ethanolic extract (80%) from the entire dried plant did not show any antiviral activity in vitro14.

The hydroethanolic extract (50%) from the aerial parts, administered intraperitoneally to mouse (500 mg/kg), showed antipyretic activity and depressed the central nervous system, enhancing the action of barbiturics15.

The ethanolic extract (70%) from the dried leaf, administered intraperitoneally to rats (100 mg/kg), displayed antipyretic and anti-inflammatory activity. When administered orally (125 mg/kg) to mouse analgesic activity was indicated16.

The hydroethanolic extract (50%) from the aerial parts, administered intravenously to dog (50 mg/kg), exhibited hypotensive activity15.

Several reports indicate the anti-estrogen properties of the flower17-18.




1 WENIGER B, ROUZIER M, 1986 Enquête TRAMIL. Service Oecuménique d'Entraide SOE, Port au Prince, Haïti.

2 LONGUEFOSSE JL, NOSSIN E, 1990-95 Enquête TRAMIL. Association pour la valorisation des plantes médicinales de la Caraïbe AVPMC, Fort de France, Martinique.

3 EDOUARD JA, 1992 Enquête TRAMIL. Lycée agricole, Baie-Mahault, Guadeloupe.

4 WHO, 1991 Guidelines for the assessment of herbal medicines. WHO/TRM/91.4. Programme on Traditional Medicines, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland.

5 MEDITSCH J, BARROS E, 1978 Hibiscus dyes as acid-base indicators. An Assoc Bras Quim 29(1):89.

6 SHRIVASTAVA D, 1974 Phytochemical analysis of japakusum. J Res Indian Med Yoga Homeopathy 9(4):103-104.

7 LIN Y, 1975 The study of red pigments in Taiwan plants. Proc Natl Sci Counc Part I (Taiwan) 1975(8):133-137.

8 PATTANAIK S, 1949 A comparative study of the catalase activity of the petals and leaves ofHibiscus rosa-sinensis. Curr Sci 18:212-213.

9 GRIFFITHS L, 1959 On the distribution of gentisic acid in green plant. J Exp Biol 10:437.

10 AGARWAL S, SHINDE S, 1967 Studies onHibiscus rosa-sinensis II. Preliminary pharmacological investigations. Indian J Med Res 55:1007-1010.

11 SRIVASTAVA D, BHATT S, UDUPA K, 1976 Gas chromatographic identification of fatty acids, fatty alcohols, and hydrocarbons ofHibiscus rosa-sinensis leaves. J Amer Oil Chem Soc 53:607.

12 DUKE JA, ATCHLEY AA, 1986 Handbook of proximate analysis tables of higher plants. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press. p84.

13 HERRERA J, 1994 Determinación de actividades biológicas de vegetales utilizados en medicina tradicional. Informe TRAMIL. Dep. de Farmacología, Facultad de Salud, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia.

14 VAN DEN BERGHE D, IEVEN M, MERTENS F, VLIETINCK A, LAMMENS E, 1978 Screening of higher plants for biological activities II: Antiviral activity. J Nat Prod 41:463-467.

15 BHAKUNI O, DHAR M, DHAWAN B, MEHROTRA B, 1969 Screening of Indian plants for biological activity. Part II. Indian J Exp Biol 7:250-262.

16 SINGH N, NATH R, AGARWAL A, KOHLI R, 1978 A pharmacological investigation of some indigenous drugs of plant origin for evaluation of their antipyretic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities. J Res Indian Med Yoga Homeopathy 13:58-62.

17 KHOLKUTE S, CHATTERJEE S, UDUPA K, 1976 Effect ofHibiscus rosa-sinensis on estrous cycle and reproductive organs in rats. Indian J Exp Biol 14:703-704.

18 PRAKASH A, 1979 Acid and alkaline phosphatase activity in the uterus of rat treated withHibiscus rosa-sinensis Linn. extracts. Curr Sci 48:501-503.

19 SINGH M, SINGH R, UDUPA K, 1982 Antifertility activity of a benzene extract ofHibiscus rosa-sinensis flowers on female albino rats. Planta Med 44:171-174.

20 PRAKASH A, 1984 Biological evaluation of some medicinal plant extracts for contraceptive efficacy. Contracept Deliv Syst5(3):9-10.

21 KHOLKUTE S, UDUPA K, 1974 Antifertility properties ofHibiscus rosa-sinensis. J Res Indian Med Yoga Homeopathy 9(4):99-102.

22 TIWARI P, 1974 Preliminary clinical trial on flowers ofHibiscus rosa-sinensis as an oral contraceptive agent. J Res Indian Med Yoga Homeopathy 9(4):96-98.

23 TRIVEDI V, SHUKLA K, 1980 A study of effects of an indigenous compound drug on reproductive physiology. J Sci Res Pl Med 1(3/4):41-47.

24 LOPEZ M, MARTINEZ MJ, MOREJON Z, BOUCOURT E, FERRADA C, FUENTES V, MORON F, 2005 Irritabilidad dérmica primaria de hoja fresca de Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L.Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio Central de Farmacología, Facultad de Medicina “Dr. Salvador Allende”, Cerro, C. Habana, Cuba.

25 LUCIANO-MONTALVO C, GAVILLAN-SUAREZ J, 2009 Actividades antimicrobianas de partes de plantas con usos significativos en encuestas etnofarmacológicas TRAMIL.Informe TRAMIL,Instituto de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias, Cayey, Universidad de Puerto Rico.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.