•Expert says research finding shows therapy potent

•Industrialists should commercialise effort –UNN VC

From Magnus Eze, Enugu


•Habiscus Sabdariffa

Hypertension is a leading cause of sickness and death in Africa, and Nigeria, the most populous country in the continent, hugely contributes to this burden.


•Prof Nwachukwu delivering inaugural lecture

According to National Institutes of Health (NIH) (.gov), from the random-effects meta-analysis, they estimated an overall hypertension prevalence of 28.9% (25.1, 32.8), with a prevalence of 29.5% (24.8, 34.3) among men and 25.0% (20.2, 29.7) among women. They also estimated a prevalence of 30.6% (24.5, 36.6) and 26.4% (19.4, 33.4) among urban and rural dwellers, respectively.

The foregoing confirms that high blood pressure is one of Nigeria’s most prevalent disease conditions.


But researchers said that there is light at the end of the tunnel for Nigerians to use indigenous, readily available and cheaper therapy in managing the condition.

Deputy Vice Chancellor of University of Nigeria Enugu Campus (UNEC), Prof. Daniel Nwachukwu, recently confirmed that hibiscus sabdariffa, popularly called zobo, has all the curative potential as an antihypertensive therapy.

•Scholars at inaugural lecture

After research and clinical trials in both animals and human, the Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology in the university stated that the antihypertensive effectiveness of the hibiscus sabdariffa (zobo) was comparable to those of known antihypertensive drugs that are popular in the retail pharmacies.

He added that zobo’s availability, cheapness and absence of side effects make it attractive as an alternative therapeutic agent in mild to moderate hypertensive subjects.

According to him, age-long research and findings had found zobo to be very effective in checking hypertension for those having the ailment and prevent others without the disease/ailment from having it.

He said when zobo leaf liquid extract is taken daily in moderate quantity, it has a way of balancing and rejuvenating the function of the heart and the cardiovascular system as a whole.

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Nwachukwu said zobo also has special anti-blood sugar (diabetes) and obesity (especially type-2 obesity) checking property and propensity.

“Hibiscus sabdariffa (zobo leaf) has been found to help the cardiovascular muscles and system (totality of the heart) to be working optimally and with vigour.

“Through research over the years, we have found out that hibiscus sabdariffa (zobo leaf) works better than any anti-hypertensive drug.

“Zobo leaf is found around us; it is very cheap and does not have any medical side effect if taken moderately.

“Zobo should be prepared by oneself to get the medicinal effect, as you only need the zobo leaves and you boil it in hot water and sieve to get your healthy heart-helpful drink.

“People should sieve it and drink it without adding anything although it is sour but that is the best natural taste and good for your heart, kidney and urinary tract as well.

“We have done years of research and clinical trial on hibiscus sabdariffa (zobo) and found out that it will be the best thing or marriage (union) one’s heart can have,” he said.

The erudite scholar, however, warned that care should be applied to avoid abuse in the consumption of hibiscus sabdariffa (zobo), adding that the therapy could interfere with some anti-malaria drugs while its high dose was also reported to have toxic effects on the liver and kidney.

He further cautioned that zobo consumption is not recommended for persons with low blood pressure because of its well-established hypotensive action, instructing that during combined therapy with antihypertensive drugs, the blood pressure must be carefully monitored.

These discoveries were contained in the don’s 201st inaugural lecture of the University of Nigeria on the topic: “The marriage between the cardiovascular system and hibiscus sabdariffa: Let no one put asunder,” delivered at the University of Nigeria, Enugu campus, on March 7, 2024.

He recommended that industrialists and investors should support large scale production of hibiscus sabdariffa beverage and its distribution even to rural communities for the benefit of the health of Nigerians, particularly since the raw materials (hibiscus sabdariffa calyx and water) are cheap and readily available.

He declared that this will definitely create jobs and wealth for industrialists that can tap into the huge health benefits of zobo.

“This lecture is intended to draw the public attention to our research efforts and unveiling the antihypertensive ability of hibiscus sabdariffa, which is called zobo in our common parlance. What we used for our studies was the same concentration as the locally produced zobo and we found out that it exerted significant antihypertensive ability, in some cases even higher than the antihypertensive drugs and also did combination therapy with other antihypertensive drugs.

“What is significant is that this zobo is within us. It’s very cheap and it does not have any side effects compared to other antihypertensive agents. The raw material is just to buy zobo, prepare it under hygienic conditions, boil water and put it, sieve it and drink. It may have a sour taste but we do not encourage people to add things like pineapple or sugar in order to make it sweet because once you do that, you are diluting or reducing its antihypertensive effectiveness.

“We have demonstrated it, both in animal studies and in humans. We are the first to do clinical trials, using mild to moderate antihypertensive Nigerians and we found it very useful. Some of the results show that one can actually use it and we equally saw that you can use it to prevent even diabetes from occurring because it reduces the rise in glucose level,” Nwachukwu explained.

Vice Chancellor of UNN, Professor Charles Igwe said that the lecture was topical and in three dimensions: one on health grounds, another in academics and the third an economic value, adding that “everybody here has gained a new knowledge and has something to take home.”

Explaining the economic dimension of the lecture, he said that “we can also begin to use what God has given us to make money. Maybe because God gave us everything in abundance in this country, we don’t recognize the simplest things God gave us in our environment. Therefore, what we are saying is that we should begin to, at all these pure water productions and incorporate zobo production so as to make money out of it.”

According to the VC, the university had made its contribution through their laboratories, so, it was now left for the business community and the industries to come and buy into it and start widening it and make it very economic.

“We are also calling on industrialists and investors to come and partner the institution by taking advantage of our research findings and works here. This I know when converted to commercial purpose will make good business for them.

“Through the institution’s Lion Bottle Water venture, we will see how possible to add zobo drink production as I know everyone wants the great health benefits of zobo and want to live longer,” Igwe stated.

Many people that attended the event poured encomium on Nwachukwu for the great work and were upbeat that his research findings would boost the management of high blood pressure in the country.

Traditional ruler of Okposi Okwu autonomous community in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, where the inaugural lecturer hails from, Onyibe Chuku Agwu (Eze Odenigbo) described him as an excellent academic in terms of cerebral capacity.