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Flower Power: Hibiscus sabdariffa extract to prevent UTIs and dyslipidemia

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Mostly because of their agreeable appearance and smell, flowers are particularly loved by humans. In fact, flowers are a real treasure of nature and often also a powerful source of high-value nutraceutical ingredients.

Naturalea, a Swiss company founded in 2014 specialised in the production of active ingredients extracted from nature via a patented proprietary sustainable process that makes no use of excipients or additives, is proposing to the North American market Hibex, a nutraceutical ingredient extracted from a wonderful flower.

Hibiscus sabdariffa

The Hibiscus sabdariffa​ plant is widely grown in tropical areas including the Caribbean, Australia, Brazil, Central America, India, Africa, the US and the Philippines.

In Asia and Africa, its seeds are roasted or ground into powder for use in meals, while leaves and shoots are eaten raw or cooked. In Egypt, calyces are used to make tea; in Sudan, Nigeria and Mexico, they are boiled with sugar to produce a hot drink. 

The hibiscus flowers, calyces (sepals) and leaves are used in local cultural medicine too. In Asia hibiscus extract is used to lower blood pressure or improve liver function. Around the world, hibiscus extracts are consumed in the form of dietary supplements and nutraceuticals.

Hibiscus sabdariffa​, also know as Roselle, is a species of Hibiscus, ​a plant probably native to West Africa and Asia.Hibiscus sabdariffa​ has long been used in traditional cultural medicine for bladder and kidney health.      Dried calyces of this flower are used to produce an infusion popularly known as hibiscus tea, a calorie- and caffeine-free tea with acidic and antibacterial properties thought to protect against  urinary tract infections (UTIs). 

Hibiscus tea is popular in Western cultures too and in African countries to decrease body temperature, treat heart disease, and sooth a sore throat. The plant and its flowers are traditionally used in Asia as a herbal remedy to treat high blood pressure and liver disorders.

More recently several studies have been carried out to confirm the effect of hibiscus on high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Hibiscus sabdariffa ​is also traditionally known for its anti-oxidative properties, thanks to the very high content in bioflavonoids and anthocyanins, especially hibiscin, which has proven to be useful also in the prevention of UTIs.

Hibiscus sabdariffa extract: a nutraceutical alternative for treating UTIs

A UTI is a painful infection of kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra. UTIs seem to affect the female population more than men due to their anatomy. Studies report one in three women experience a clinically significant UTI by the time they reach 24. Around 50% of women will experience at least one UTI in their lifetime. 

The most common UTI infections occur in the bladder, causing cystitis, and the urethra (urethritis). Up to 90% of bladder infections involve Escherichia Coli (E. coli)​ bacteria commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract. UTIs occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract. This can result from wiping habits after using the toilet, or from sexual activity.

Several studies have shown that hibiscus extracts seem to have preventative effect on UTIs.

A University College London (UCL) School of Pharmacy review published in the journal Food Chemistry examined phytochemical and pharmacological research on Hibiscus sabdariffa​. Several in vitro and in vivo studies have shown a potent antioxidant effect due to its “strong scavenging effect on reactive oxygen and free radicals”.

 

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Hibiscus sabdariffa extract to help against dyslipidemia

Dyslipidemia is the technical name describing unhealthy levels of lipids, or fats, in the blood, including low-density lipoproteins (known as LDL cholesterol), high-density lipoproteins (HDL cholesterol) and triglycerides. 

Popularly known as ‘bad’ cholesterol, LDL can cause plaques on blood vessel walls, which can impair blood flow, while HDL is described as  ‘good’ as it helps remove LDL.

While primary dyslipidemia is genetic and inherited, secondary dyslipidemia is caused by conditions affecting blood lipid levels, e.g. obesity, diabetes, hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome, alcoholism, excess dietary saturated fats, chronic kidney or liver conditions, IBS and metabolic syndrome. Other factors like the lack of exercise and smoking can increase the risk, as well as menopause and aging.

Hibiscus tea is rich in polyphenols, anthocyanins and flavonoids that may make it suitable to help prevent cardiovascular disorders.  Researchers at Chun Shan Medical University in Taiwan worked on scientific studies to support health claims.

ln the clinical study scientists tested any cholesterol reducing effect on human subjects due to the intake of Hibiscus sabdariffa​ extract. Researchers concluded that two capsules of Hibiscus sabdariffa​ extract taken with food for one month can significantly lower serum cholesterol level. 

Naturalea’s Hibiscus extract  - proposed on the market and the brand name HIBEX - is made from premium choice, fresh flowers, applying a proprietary process without damaging the healthful components of the plant.

Rich in anthocyanin and bioflavonoids this extract is characterised by a particularly gorgeous and vibrant red color. Hibex is water soluble and can be used to formulate dietary supplements, functional foods, functional beverages, foods (drinks, jellies, ice creams,confectionery), and is certified ISO9001. It is a vegan, gluten free, no GMO extract.

Hibex is a nutraceutical ingredient distributed on the North American market by Faravelli Inc, the US subsidiary of Faravelli. Faravelli began operating in its native Italy in 1926, before going on to establish a presence in North America in 2014.

 

REFERENCES

1)      HTTPS://WWW.SCIENCEDIRECT.COM/SCIENCE/ARTICLE/PII/S030881461400692X

2)      LIN, TZU-LI & LIN, HUI-HSUAN & CHEN, CHANG-CHE & LIN, MING-CHENG & CHOU, MING-CHIH & WANG, CHAU-JONG. (2007). HIBISCUS SABDARIFFA EXTRACT REDUCES SERUM CHOLESTEROL IN MEN AND WOMEN. NUTRITION RESEARCH - NUTR RES. 27. 140-145. 10.1016/J.NUTRES.2007.01.007.

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