Extracts from numerous plants have been employed since eons to address many of mankind's health needs. Aphrodisiac plants, also known as androgenic plants, are those that exhibit anabolic properties -- they help enhance sexual abilities and protein synthesis. Hibiscus rosasinensis, or hibiscus, is one such plant. The species comprises several hundred members that are native to the tropical and sub-tropical regions. While all parts of the plant are significant medicinally, its leaves are especially important for their numerous benefits and uses.
Hibiscus leaves are simple, alternate, auriculate and have ovate stipules. Leaves are between 7 and 15 centimeters long, and the axis of each leaf adorns a solitary flower. A hibiscus leaf exhibits two different shades of green on its upper and lower surfaces. Its upper surface is typically bright green while its lower surface is dull green. Younger leaves are a lighter shade of green than older leaves.
Chemical and Physiochemical Constituents
Fresh hibiscus leaves are primarily comprised of moisture (more than 85 percent), researchers from the Department of Pharmacognosy of the ISF College of Pharmacy report. Other physiochemical constituents include fat, ash, fiber, phosphorus, thiamine and calcium. Chemical constituents of the leaves include anisaldehyde, isoamyl alcohol, methanol, malic acid, benzyl alcohol, iso-propyl alcohol, niacin and 3-methyl-1-butanol.
Medicinal Usage Facts
The hibiscus leaf has various medicinal uses. According to the authors of the book "Green Remedies," hibiscus leaf extract/juice makes an effective antidote to skin rashes and allergies. The authors report that the juice is a major ingredient of many hair care concoctions, including anti-dandruff shampoos and conditioners.
Barbara Perry Lawton in the book "Hibiscus" states that hibiscus leaves have aphrodisiac, antiseptic, cholagogue, astringent, emollient, diuretic, resolvent, refrigerant, sedative and stomachic properties. Hibiscus leaf extract is also used to treat menstrual problems in women and to regulate the menstrual cycle.
G. J. H. Grubben in the book "Vegetables" reports that the leaves of hibiscus have shown an inhibitory effect on Staphylococcus aureus -- the bacterium causing staph infections.
Researchers from the Monash University Sunway Campus in Malaysia report that leaves of six hibiscus species exhibit antioxidant properties by producing flavonoids and other phenolic compounds that reduce the harmful effects of UV radiation.
Nutritional Usage Facts
According to G. J. H. Grubben, the leaves of hibiscus are eaten as a salad in many areas of Asia and Africa. Young leaves are added to groundnuts, peas and sesame paste and served with food.