The Medicine of Sour and The Benefits of Hibiscus

The Actions Of the Flavours

Traditional Chinese medicine teaches us that each flavour has a unique remedial action; such as warming, cooling, moistening, drying, astringent, purgative, antibiotic, tonifying, etc. The taste of a food or herb can tell us where the energy of that food or herb will be directed and what their action on each organ system will be. 


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  • Sour flavour enters the liver and gallbladder
  • Bitter flavour enters the heart and small intestine
  • Sweet flavour enters the spleen-pancreas and stomach
  • Pungent flavour enters the lungs and large intestine
  • Salty flavour enters the kidneys and bladder

A healthy diet should consist of all the flavours in order to balance each organ system. It's not as complicated as it might sound - it means that each day the sweet flavour should be accompanied by small amounts of bitter, salty, pungent and sour foods. Unfortunately many of us tend to have a diet that mainly consists of sweet and salty flavours, leading to imbalances in the body that may show up as feeling excessively hot, swollen, cold, dry, and can even manifest as blood sugar imbalances, hormonal imbalances, liver stagnation, mucus accumulation, weight gain, high blood pressure, and more.


Properties: A yin, cooling quality that reduces excess heat and chronic sweating. Firms or tightens tissues and is helpful for hemorrhaging, diarrhea, internal bleeding, and uterine prolapse. 

Stimulates liver detoxification which can counteract the negative effect of heavy, greasy, fried foods.

Sour is the proper flavour for heart-mind union and can assist in one operating from the heart rather than a scattered mind. 

Sour is often used for excess heat conditions in 'pitta', Mars, or Sun and can be used to treat damp or relaxed tissues expressed by Kapha or Venus

A few sour herbs include Hibiscus, Hawthorn Berry, Elderberry, Rosehips, Lemon Balm and some sour foods include lemon, lime, sauerkraut, sour apples, sour plums.


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Hibiscus as Medicine

One of my favourite sour plants is hibiscus, it feels incredibly nourishing in the Summers heat and provides a potent dose of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Not to mention its absolutely delicious when paired with honey and other herbs like rose, ginger, and orange peel.

1. Hibiscus is Packed with Antioxidants

Both the leaves and the calyces of hibiscus are packed with some of the most powerful antioxidant compounds such as anthocyanins (also found in blueberries) and chlorogenic acids (found in coffee).

Studies have shown that both hibiscus extract and tea may be helpful in reducing the harmful effects of cellular damage caused by free radicals.

2. Hibiscus For Anemia

Because they contain iron, hibiscus calyces can be used to help support healthy iron levels in those with anemia. Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world. Studies have shown that both hibiscus leaves and the calyces may be of benefit in improving iron deficiency anemia.

3. Hibiscus For Heart Health

Due to its high polyphenol and antioxidant content, hibiscus is a fantastic heart-healthy herb that helps to protect the overall function of the heart.

4. Hibiscus For Skin & Hair Health

Because hibiscus is such a nutritive plant, its great for skin and hair health. The high antioxidant content helps to prevent premature aging caused by chemicals, makeup, and UV rays from the sun. The high Vitamin C content stimulates new collagen production and supports skin elasticity. Its naturally anti-inflammatory and reduces excess heat in the body, which makes it great for getting rid of acne and redness in the skin.

5. Hibiscus For Hydration

Hibiscus tea is a delicious way to stay hydrated, especially during the sweltering heat of the summer thanks to its high mineral and electrolyte content. Cool your hibiscus tea in the hot months for a nice refreshing drink.

6. Hibiscus For Liver Health

Many studies have concluded that hibiscus has a liver-protecting effect. Again, the high antioxidant content of hibiscus is to thank for this. Hibiscus has also been shown to increase important liver enzymes crucial in our natural detoxification, decrease fatty liver, and reduce markers of liver damage.

7. Hibiscus As an Aphrodisiac 

In herbalism, aphrodisiac herbs nourish the nervous system, heart, and reproductive organs on both a physical and energetic level. Physically, they tonify (tighten or firm) the tissues and support balanced hormonal function, enhance physical desire (libido), and may improve performance. Energetically, they move stagnant energy and open the heart and sacral chakras to increase a sense of love and relaxation. You may notice that many of these plants are also nervines — plants that are relaxing to the nervous system — and this is part of their aphrodisiac effect. By calming stress and soothing tension in the mind and heart, they enable one to focus on other sensations in the body.

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How To Use Hibiscus

There are many ways to enjoy Hibiscus but perhaps the most effective way of getting its nutritional value is through a steeped tea. Be sure to cover your tea while steeping.

  • Steep the flowers in hot water for ten minutes or longer to make a caffeine free herbal tea.
  • Find a liquid extract such as a tincture or glycerite.
  • Make hibiscus infused honey.
  • Add cooled hibiscus tea to smoothies.
  • Use hibiscus powder or tea for drinks, cocktails or cocktails.

Pairing Hibiscus in Herbal Blends

Hibiscus blends especially well with flavours such as Rose, Ginger, Orange Peel, Lemon, Orange Juice, Honey, Hawthorn, Lemon Balm, and Chamomile. Play around with different recipes to find your preference and check out or Hibiscus Tea Refresh Me here.refresh me herbal hibiscus tea wild bloom botanicals

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