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When the summer sun is high in the sky and warms the earth with its rays, there is nothing better than a cool cup of tea. Hibiscus tea is excellent for this purpose. When chilled, the tea from the mallow plant fills you up and provides a particularly intense kick of freshness. Even in winter, hibiscus is a real treat for the body. But what about children and pets? Is hibiscus toxic to these?


ingredients of hibiscus

Before the question of whether hibiscus is poisonous or not can be answered, the components of the plant must be examined more closely. These provide information about possible toxicity that could affect children, dogs and cats. The following ingredients are found in all hibiscus species.

1. Fatty oil

Hibiscus species contain a vegetable oil that consists of a large number of fatty acids, which, due to their composition, have different effects on the human body and organs. In the case of Hibiscus, the following two fatty acids are particularly noteworthy, from which the oil is formed.

  • Sterculic acid in roots, leaves, seeds and stems
  • Malvalic acid in leaves and seeds

Due to their similarity, the two cyclic fatty acids are often difficult to distinguish when extracting the oil. However, they have one thing in common: both occur most frequently in the plant species of the mallow family. There they work together as protection against predators and pests, so that they do not attack the plant parts of the hibiscus.

Hibiscus bush in the garden

2. Acids

Marshmallow has a large number of different acids that not only give the plant its classic aroma, but also have a variety of other functions. The main acids of hibiscus include the following.

  • malic acid
  • citric acid
  • hibiscus acid
  • tartaric acid
  • ascorbic acid

They work together as a unit and support the plants in a variety of vital processes. For example, the malic acid works for a smooth metabolism, while the natural ascorbic acid is used as vitamin C.

3. Secondary plant substances

Like all plants, hibiscus species also develop secondary plant substances that are responsible for the coloring of the marshmallows or support important functions in the organism. Of these, hibiscus mainly contains those listed below.

  • Pectins: multiple sugars and therefore dietary fibre
  • Phytosterols: component of the cell membrane
  • Flavonoids: Flower pigments
  • Anthocyanins: plant pigments

4. Mucilage

Slime is another component produced by the mallow family. These have an effective effect on the growth and protection of the plant. The substances are another protective mechanism of the plant. These are polysaccharides (multiple sugars) that are found in the plant in a viscous state and often have a healing effect on them.

Please note that the substances listed above are usually only found in the wild forms of marshmallow. Cultivated forms often have slightly different compositions, but it should be assumed that they have some of these as well, since the structure of the plants does not differ much from the wild form.


Toxic or not?

It is confirmed that hibiscus is non-toxic as long as they are used properly. There are no toxins in the plant itself that could harm humans. This is also the reason why numerous parts of the plant can easily be used for drinks, in naturopathy and dishes, even the flowers and roots. Especially for adults, cats and dogs there is no problem in consuming the plant. Although some parts, except for the fruit and flowers, are inedible in terms of taste, they are not poisonous. Nevertheless, there are slight problems with the ingredients that could be harmful in the long run.

Hibiscus with white flowers

vegetable oil

Fatty Oil

The vegetable oil formed inside hibiscus is minimally toxic and is considered of concern once incorporated into the diet on a regular basis. At first glance there is no problem with the oil, but the two fatty acids mentioned above could have a lasting effect on certain processes in the body.

1. Malvalic acid

Inhibits the liver's ability to metabolize certain fats in order for cell membranes within the body to function properly. This leads to problems with the metabolism. So far, however, this is only listed with references, not with evidence.

2. sterculic acid

Has a negative effect on reproduction, especially in animals, and the smaller the organism, the higher the probability of a lethal dose, such as in rodents. It also has a negative effect on the composition of body fat. Evidence has been found that the acid may have a carcinogenic effect, but this has not been confirmed.

Still, you don't have to worry so much that hibiscus could become really dangerous for you and even your children, since the leaves, flowers and fruit of the plants are not made up solely of the acid. Extremely large amounts would have to be consumed over a long period of time for these effects to set in.

Hibiscus is a mallow family

Possible dangers

However, hibiscus is not always safe to eat, especially if you have children or small animals like hamsters or mice. The numerous ingredients have a stronger effect on these organisms and could therefore have a faster impact. Indigestion and heartburn are a typical problem for children, especially toddlers, with too much hibiscus due to the numerous acids. Also, people with an allergy to the individual acids should absolutely refrain from ingesting Hibiscus, as this could lead to dangerous situations. Otherwise there are no concerns about the marshmallow.


  • acid

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