Abelmoschus esculentus

scientific name: 
Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench
synonym: 
Hibiscus esculentus L.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Erect undershrub 2-4 m high. Leaves orbicular and lobed 10-30 cm long; lanceolate to obovate, acute or obtuse; calyx 2 cm long, yellow corolla with a 3-4 cm purple area at the base; angular capsule (fruit), up to 20 cm long.

Voucher(s)

Jiménez,683,JBSD

ocular affections:

  fruit, macerated, prepared as an eye wash

boil:

  fruit, crushed, applied locally

The fruit of the Abelmoschus esculentus is widely used for human consumption.

TRAMIL Research23

There is documented information indicating that it has traditionally been used in the following ways:

For eye conditions:

To prepare an aqueous maceration, wash and cut 4-5 medium sized fruits (5 cm), and add them to 1 liter (4 cups) of boiling water; let the mixture stand until mucilaginous, then filter the preparation before applying as a wash.

For boils:

Wash the fruit well, then crush it.  Apply 2 to 5 g of this crushed matter to the affected area twice a day.

According to published and other information:

Uses for eye conditions and boils are categorized as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, and on available published scientific information.

The fruit should be properly washed and cleaned, and all external trichomes (hairs) should be removed, as they can be irritating to the skin and the mucous membranes.

For eye application, strict hygiene measures should be observed in order to avoid contamination with pathogenic germs or foreign matter that may irritate the conjunctiva.

Limit use to three days.  If no improvement is observed, seek qualified medical attention.

In the event of local adverse reactions, discontinue treatment.

The available inconclusive information suggests that the external hairs of the fruit may induce skin irritation21.  Contact dermatitis has been reported in agricultural workers, with an immediate hypersensitivity reaction resulting from the production of IgE antibodies.  These workers show positive reaction to intradermal and nasal administration of fruit extracts22.

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or in pregnant or lactating women.

The fruit is rich in phosphorous and calcium3.  It also contains the following:  carbohydrates (mucilages)4, amino acids (alanine, arginine, and g-aminobutyric acid)5, terpenes (gibberellins6, carotenoids7, gossypol and hemi-gossypol8), lipids  (saturated and unsaturated fatty acids)9, flavonoids (quercetin, hyperoside10, and 3’,4’–dimethylquercetin11), essential oil (citral)12, coumarin (scopoletin), miscellaneous (0.05% oxalic acid), and vitamins (C and B6)13.

Proximate analysis of 100 g of fruit14: calories: 36; water: 88.9%; proteins: 2.4%; fat: 0.3%; carbohydrates: 7.6%; fiber: 1%; ash: 0.8%; calcium: 92 mg; phosphorus: 51 mg; iron: 0.6 mg; sodium: 3 mg; potassium: 249 mg; carotene: 312 µg; thiamine: 0.17 mg; riboflavin: 0.21 mg; niacin: 1 mg; ascorbic acid: 31 mg.

TRAMIL Research24

The decoction of the young leaf, at a concentration of 1000 µg/mL, did not show antimicrobial activity in vitro against Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella gallinarum, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Candida albicans orMycobacterium smegmatis.

TRAMIL Research25 (will be translated in 3rd Ed.)

El extracto acuoso (maceración) del fruto, no mostró actividad antimicrobiana in vitro a una concentración de 252 µg/mL contra Staphylococcus aureus ni Haemophilus influenzae.

A 95% ethanolic extract from the dried fruit, undiluted15, and the extract from the dried fruit (1 g/100 mL of 95% ethanol), upon application of 0.1 mL per well in a petri dish16, showed antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus by diffusion assay.

The hydroalcoholic tincture (50% ethanol) of the fruit at a concentration of 50 mL/disk was active in vitro against Neisseria gonorrhoeae by diffusion with 80% inhibition on agar plate diffusion17-18.

The methanolic extract of the fruit showed a local anti-inflammatory effect on administration to the inflamed ears of mice (2mg/ear) after inflammation was induced by 12-0-tetradecanoylphorbol acetate (TPA)19.

A secretion produced by the outer skin of the unripe fruit showed proteolytic activity and increased the capillary permeability in vivo on the skin of Guinea pigs.  These properties were neutralized upon heating.  This could explain the contact dermatitis seen in agricultural workers20.

References:  

1 WENIGER B, 1987-88 MODIFIÉ EN TEST
Encuesta TRAMIL. enda-caribe, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana.

2 CHARLES C, 1988
TRAMIL survey. Movement for Cultural Awareness MCA, Roseau, Dominica.

3 BASU KP, GHOSH D, 1943
Availability of Ca in lady's finger (Hibiscus esculentus), cabbage (Brassica oleracea capitata), drumstick (Moringa oleifera), and amaranth tender (Amaranthus gangeticus). I. Experiments. Indian J Med Res 31:29.

4 WOOLFE ML, CHAPLIN MF, OTCHERE G, 1977
Studies on the mucilages extracted from okra fruits (Hibiscus esculentus) and baobab leaves (Adansonia digitata). J Sci Food Agr28:519.

5 DEMETRIADES SD, 1956
Chromatographic detection of free amino-acids in normal iron-deficient plants of Hibiscus esculentus. Nature 177:95.

6 KOSHIOKA M, NISHIJIMA T, YAMAZAKI H, 1996
Endogenous gibberellins in the immature seeds of okra. J Plant Physiol 149(1-2):129-132.

7 BUREAU JL, BUSHWAY RJ, 1986
HPLC determination of carotenoids in fruits and vegetables in the United States. J Food Sci(51)1:128-130.

8 SCHMIDT JH, WELLS R, 1990
Evidence for the presence of gossypol in malvaceous plants other than those in the "cotton tribe". J Agr Food Chem 38(2):505-508.

9 BERRY SK, 1980
The fatty acid composition and cyclopropene fatty acid content of the maturing okra (Hibiscus esculentus L.) fruits. Pertanika3(2):82-86.

10 BANDYUKOVA VA, LIGAI LV, 1987
A chemical investigation of the fruit of Abelmoschus esculentus. Chem Nat Comp 23(3):376-377.

11 DANIEL M, 1989
Polyphenols of some Indian vegetables. Curr Sci 58(23):1332-1334.

12 OSMAN AM, YOUNES MEG, ATA FM, 1974
Chemical examinations of local plants: Part X. Comparative studies between the constituents of some parts of Hibiscus esculentus (Egyptian okra). Indian J Chem 12:1019A.

13 DUKE JA, 1992
Handbook of phytochemical constituents of GRAS herbs and other economic plants. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press.

14 DUKE JA, ATCHLEY AA, 1986
Handbook of proximate analysis tables of higher plants. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press. p7.

15 GEORGE M, PANDALAI KM 1949
Investigation on plant antibiotics. Part IV. Further search for antibiotic substances in Indian medicinal plants. Indian J Med Res37:169-181.

16 VERPOORTE R, DIHAL PP, 1987
Medicinal plants of Surinam. IV. Antimicrobial activity of some medicinal plants. J Ethnopharmacol 21(3):315-318.

17 CACERES A, MENENDEZ H, MENDEZ E, COHOBON E, SAMAYAO BE, JAUREGUI E, PERALTA E, CARRILLO G, 1992
Antigonorrhoeal activity of plants used in Guatemala for the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. Facultad de Ciencias Químicas y Farmacia, Universidad de San Carlos, Guatemala, Guatemala. TRAMIL VI, Basse Terre, Guadeloupe, UAG/enda-caribe.

18 CACERES A, MENENDEZ H, MENDEZ E, COHOBON E, SAMAYAO BE, JAUREGUI E, PERALTA E, CARRILLO G, 1995
Antigonorrhoeal activity of plants used in Guatemala for the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. J Ethnopharmacol 48(2):85-88.

19 YASUKAWA K, YAMAGUCHI A, ARITA J, SAKURAI S, IKEDA A, TAKIDO M, 1993
Inhibitory effect of edible plant extract on 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate-induced ear oedema in mice. Phytother Res 7(2):185-189.

20 MANDA F, TADERA K, AOYAMA K, 1992
Skin lesions due to okra (Hibiscus esculentus L.): proteolytic activity and allergenicity of okra. Contact Derm 26(2):95-100.

21 MORTON JF, 1981
Atlas of medicinal plants of Middle America. Springfield, USA: Charles C. Thomas Publisher.

22 UEDA A, MANDA F, AOYAMA K, UEDA T, OBAMA K, LI Q, TOCHIGI T, 1993
Immediate-type allergy related to okra (Hibiscus esculentus L.) picking and packing. Environ Res 62(2):189-199.

23CARBALLO A, 1995
Plantas medicinales del Escambray cubano. Apuntes científicos. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio provincial de producción de medicamentos, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba.

24 Olmedo D, RODRIGUEZ N, ESPINOSA A, VASQUEZ Y, Gupta MP, 2005
Ensayo antimicrobiano de algunas especies con usos significativos TRAMIL-Centroamérica. Informe TRAMIL. Centro de Investigaciones Farmacognósticas de la Flora Panameña CIFLORPAN, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Panamá, Panamá, Panamá.

25 LUCIANO-MONTALVO C, GAVILLAN-SUAREZ J, 2009
Actividades antimicrobianas de partes de plantas con usos significativos en encuestas etnofarmacológicas TRAMIL.Informe TRAMIL,Instituto de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias, Cayey, Universidad de Puerto Rico.

DISCLAIMER

The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.