Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa), also known as Roselle, is one of the ingredients chosen by I Coloniali to create the Invigorating & Toning body care line because of its toning, emollient and moisturising properties.
Hibiscus flowers, feminine symbols of beauty and sensuality, are of great importance for the cosmetics industry; Asian women have used the oily extracts of this flower since time immemorial to improve the appearance of their skin and hair. Even today these oils are still used in the preparation of body scrubs and soaps.
In beauty products, because of their emollient properties Hibiscus extracts are recommended for softening the skin. However, they are also recommended as a skin tonic and detoxifier.
This powerful moisturising agent has a soothing effect which reduces wrinkles, giving a youthful, healthy appearance. Hibiscus is considered an alternative to intensive skin lifting and firming anti-ageing procedures. It is active against acne and is antimicrobial and purifying.
The flowers are used as natural dyes in place of synthetic dyes, whilst in many Asian and African countries both the flowers and the seeds of Hibiscus are eaten as food and used for medicinal purposes. Nutrition studies have revealed that the flowers contain high levels of vitamins C, B, iron and calcium whilst the main bioactive constituents, such as anthocyanins, polysaccharides, flavonoids and organic acids, are responsible for their antioxidant properties and their healing abilities.
Infusions with Hibiscus leaves, calyxes or petals, are considered to cure febrile conditions, decrease blood pressure and have an overall stimulant effect on the entire digestive process.
Ayurvedic medicine was the first to recognise Hibiscus as a medicinal plant. Commonly known as “Gongura” in Hindi, it was used to treat a wide range of diseases including hypertension, liver disorders and poisoning. Research undertaken to prove the effects attributed to Hibiscus by eastern alternative medicine have demonstrated that it has antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, anti-obesity and antidiabetic activities.
The antioxidant activity of Hibiscus and its ethanolic extracts has been studied. This has confirmed that they act as scavengers of free radicals whilst inhibiting the harmful enzyme which has a protective action against oxidative damage and peroxidation. The overall effect is optimisation of the detoxifying, antihypertensive and antidiabetic activities.
Hibiscus: origins and history
It is believed that Hibiscus was originally from India and Malaysia and from here the plant spread to West Africa. Because it grows easily in tropical and subtropical regions, its current cultivation also extends to Central America, where it is considered the national flower of Haiti. The Hibiscus is also the state flower of Hawaii and girls wear it to indicate whether they are single or married. In India these flowers have acquired a spiritual value in that they are the main offering of the Hindu goddess Kali; it is often depicted in various art forms in all the Bengali states.
Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is a widely cultivated perennial plant which grows in tropical and subtropical regions. It is an ideal crop for developing countries because it is easy to grow and has many uses in the food industry and beyond.
Hibiscus plants are famous for their bright colours which catch the eye and inspire many famous poets and artists. Nowadays, Hibiscus flowers are gaining the interest of the food and drinks producers, as well as the producers of veterinary medicines and those in the cosmetics industry.
In addition to their history and symbolism, all the parts of the plant above the surface are very popular in Ayurvedic, shamanic and tribal medicine. The edible parts of the plants are representative of various cultures all over the world.
Hibiscus calyxes are used both to prepare drinks and for other foodstuffs such as jams, ice creams, chocolate and cakes. For example, Hibiscus is used in many local dishes in the Philippines, one of the most well-known of which is chicken soup.
The Hibiscus plant can grow up to 2.4 metres and has alternate, long, veined, green and reddish leaves. The flowers are pale yellow or yellow-brown, with a pink or brown eye. The typically red calyx consists of five large petals. The calyx, stems and leaves have an acidic taste and their flavour is very reminiscent of that of cranberries. The plants have a life cycle of four to eight months, depending on the reason for cultivation.