Insight into the molecular evidence supporting the remarkable chemotherapeutic potential of Hibiscus sabdariffa L

Biomed Pharmacother. 2020 Jul:127:110153. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2020.110153. Epub 2020 Apr 27.


Hibiscus sabdariffa or roselle tea is popular around the globe for its antioxidant capability along with various other health benefits. Besides, it has uses in Ayurvedic and Chinese herbal medicines for the treatment of several diseases. However, the investigation for the anticancer potential of the plant began roughly in the last decade that emerged with encouraging results. Both crude extracts and pure compounds of the plant were reported to induce chemoprevention, selective cytotoxicity, cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, autophagy and anti-metastasis effects in varied types of human cancer cells. The plant contains a high quantity of polyphenolic compounds and at least two of them were proven to induce potent anticancer effects. Although, the molecular mechanism underlying the anticancer activity was roughly estimated in several studies. The present review aimed to assemble all ambiguous information to report the molecular evidence establishing the potent anticancer activity of Hibiscus sabdariffa and its implication for cancer therapy. This study suggests that Hibiscus sabdariffa is an ideal candidate to investigate its role as a herbal supplement for cancer prevention and treatment. With excellent safety and tolerability record, polyphenolic compounds from the plant need better designed clinical trials.

Keywords: Anti-cancer; Anti-metastasis; Apoptosis; Chemotherapeutic; Hibiscus sabdariffa; Phytochemical.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / isolation & purification
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / isolation & purification
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Hibiscus / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Antioxidants
  • Plant Extracts