This is not a food post!
Hibiscus or shoe flower (common name)/ Dasavala (Kannada) is an evergreen shrub grows easily in tropical climate. This medicinal plant is grown as show plant in many home gardens. Plant lovers like this plant for its beautiful large flowers with number of colours & varieties along with ease of growing. Plant does not need much water & care after it starts growing fine. Hibiscus being referred as ‘Japa’ in Sanskrit & Hindi, it has importance in Ayurveda. This edible flower has greater medicinal properties and has numerous health benefits when used orally or externally.
Hibiscus flower is used in cooking in various ways either in the form of tea or tambuli or salads to stew/rasam. It is well known in many countries and used worldwide in various forms.
To highlight few benefits of hibiscus when used as food:
- They are rich in many vitamins, minerals, fiber.. Hence it is useful in treating conditions like constipation/ piles, Anemia and even useful in cough & cold as it helps in expelling sputum.
- These flowers or tender leaves have cooling property on body.
- It helps in treating heavy menstrual bleeding and sleeplessness (insomnia).
- It is believed to be good for heart health.
External (cosmetic) or religious uses:
When coming to religious activities/ Pooja, it is used to offer Hindu gods in many places of India.
Now let us focus on our today’s topic that is hibiscus used externally for improved hair & scalp health. In Indian system, postpartum care has high importance as this is the time for new mother to regain her energy & rejuvenate body. Bathing is a lengthy process for initial 30-40 days after childbirth. After oil massage, hot water bath is given and everyday showering with hot water and herbal conditioner for hair. It helps in growth of hair and stops hair fall which is very common in case of nursing mother. There are couple of wild plants used for this purpose; I will talk about them in other post. As hibiscus is easily available in Indian home gardens it is used commonly too.
Following are some of the benefits of hibiscus flower & leaves when used as shampoo/ conditioner or in the form of oil.
- Hibiscus works as hair tonic. It helps in repairing damaged hair by using shampoo or conditioners having harmful chemicals. It helps in restoring natural oil/ moisture of scalp & hair.
- It prevents dandruff or cures dandruff especially when it is due to dryness.
- It is beneficial in new hair growth and stops hair fall.
- When hibiscus conditioner (we call it as gompu in Kannada) is used after shower it helps in getting good sleep with its cooling property.
- It works as eye tonic and helps in relieving burning sensation of eyes.
- Though it is safe, be little observant if using for the first time as it may cause cold in few individuals.
- Collecting these leaves & making of this conditioner is so therapeutic especially if making with kids involved.
- It is safe to use for kids too as it is chemical free!
- Grey water after using this for shower is again safe to use on garden plants.
Fresh hibiscus leaves – 12-15
Fresh hibiscus flower/ a day older flowers – 6-8 (optional)
Water – as required (2 mugs or more)
- Check leaves & flowers carefully to remove any bugs if present.
- Wash well couple of times with clean water.
- Take 1 mug water (room temperature) in a wide vessel. Tear leaves and flowers with your finger and put into the water in vessel. Don’t use hot water here. Set aside for 5 minutes.
- Squeeze well, sticky gel kind of substance will be released to water which is to be used as hair conditioner.
- You can add 1 more mug of water either hot or cold. Strain or remove all the flower & leaves pieces carefully with fingers.
How to use?
- Take regular head bath initially. After cleaning hair and scalp, pour little water with hibiscus gel. Apply properly on scalp with fingers.
- Pour remaining herbal conditioner/ gel too, so that it is applied on hair and scalp.
- Wipe gently to dry.
If the plant is not available at home, then you can make dry powder of the hibiscus leaves and use as and when required.
To make it:
- Collect leaves when available.
- Dry under sun for couple of days.
- Powder dry leaves and store in air tight container.
- Before using, Boil 2 tbsp powder in 1 mug water. Strain and use after cooling.
- It will be difficult to clean bathroom if not strained.
- The hibiscus discards after straining water can be used for seasoning iron griddle too.
- Warning: Pregnant women should not consume hibiscus orally in any form!