A Haitian Treasure: Hibiscus, Haiti's National Flower

Hibiscus is a genus of flowering plants of the Malvaceae amily, and is native to warm-tempered regions in the world, like Haiti.  In fact, Hibiscus, known as choeblack or rose kayenn in Haitian Kreyol, is Haiti's "unofficial" National flower. Apart from being beautiful and serving as a common ornamental plant, it has many different medicinal and culinary uses.

You may be wondering how Hibiscus got the name choeblack, which is the "Kreyol version" of shoeblack (what it is called in Jamaica).  Lo and behold, hibiscus has historic uses as a shoe-polisher, hence shoeblack!

In Haiti, Hibiscus is often used to treat inflammation, diarrhea, and hematomas. It is antibacterial, antispasmodic, and anti-hypertensive by nature. Hibiscus is also jam-packed with vitamin C, flavonoids, and other healing constituents. In some places, such as Venezuela, it is used to treat tumors due to its well-documented anti-carcinogenic activity. On a daily basis, hibiscus is known to successfully treat different kinds of aches (headaches, toothaches, earaches), boils, burns, and menstrual irregularities.

I have read and heard that hibiscus can also bring down the body's heat. When you add the flower concentrate to water with a little bit of sweetener if desired, you have a cooling concoction to make the harsh heat a little bit more tolerable.

Some more benefits:
  • helps decrease blood pressure and increase good cholesterol (HDL)
  • can boost immunity
  • natural diuretic
  • high in antioxidants
Suggested uses:
  • drink as tea or juice (as it is known for having a delicious tart cranberry-like flavor)
  • as a hair conditioner, anti-dandruff treatment, and growth stimulant in Ayurveda
  • to make syrups, jams, and sauces
  • as a natural coloring and flavoring agent
You can find Hibiscus in local floral shops, garden shops, and health food stores. But if you're lucky to live in climates where this flower is bountiful....happy pickings!

In health,
Dr. Naika

The "Haitian Treasures" series was created by Dr. Naika in 2012. This series explores the magnificent benefits and uses of Haiti's natural resources, which Dr. Naika calls "Haitian Treasures". In this series, Dr. Naika explores the tie between Haiti's natural resources and natural, traditional, and holistic healing.

This blog post was originally posted on Dr. Naika's lifestyle blog, Naika in Balance. Dr. Naika's work is copyrighted. Please do not copy or repost Dr. Naika's work without citing her content as the original source.