Abelmoschus (Hibiscus) Esculentus – Okra (bhindi) Benefits

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Okra (also known as Bhindi and ladies’ finger) is a mucilaginous seed pods (fruits) used as vegetable in India and Africa.

Botanically, it is Abelmoschus esculentus (Hibiscus Esculentus) and it belongs to MALVACEAE Family.

Unripe seedpods (fruits) contain mucilage substance, which is beneficial for increasing muscular strength and improving skin health.

Botanical Description

Basic Information

Scientific NameABELMOSCHUS ESCULENTUS (HIBISCUS ESCULENTUS)
Plant FamilyMALVACEAE (MALLOWS)
Hindi NameBHINDI
Sanskrit NameTINDISHA, PITALI, GANDHAMULA
English NameOKRA, LADIES’ FINGER, EDIBLE HIBISCUS, OCKRO
Other NamesBENDI, RAMTURAI, DUK

Botanical Classification (Taxonomy)

KingdomPLANTAE
Sub-KingdomVIRIDIPLANTAE
Infra KingdomSTREPTOPHYTA  (land plants)
Super DivisionEMBRYOPHYTA
DivisionTRACHEOPHYTA (TRACHEOPHYTES or Vascular Plants)
Sub DivisionSPERMATOPHYTINA (SPERMATOPHYTES or Seed Plants)
ClassMAGNOLIOPSIDA
Super OrderROSANAE
OrderMALVALES
FamilyMALVACEAE (MALLOWS)
GenusABELMOSCHUS (OKRA)
SpeciesABELMOSCHUS ESCULENTUS (OKRA)

Plant Description

Type of PlantPerennial flowering plants
Native Range (Geographic Distribution)India, North Africa, South Africa
Height (grows up to)1 to 2 meter
Habitat (type of environment)Warm temperate and tropical regions
Leaves10–20 cm long having 5 to 7 palmate lobes and broad in shape
Flowers4–8 cm in diameter with 5 light yellow petals
Fruits/Pods5 to 10 cm long Fibrous fruits (seedpods) containing mucilage substance and white seeds
SeedsRound and white seeds

Medicinal Parts

  • Ripe Seeds (okra seeds)
  • Immature capsules or Unripe fruits

Medicinal Properties

Okra (Bhindi) has following healing properties.

  1. Emollient (softening and soothing effect on skin) – bland viscid mucilage
  2. Demulcent (soothes the inflamed skin) – bland viscid mucilage
  3. Diuretic
  4. Aphrodisiac (mucilage substance in unripe pods)
  5. Nutritious

Therapeutic Indications

Okra (Bhindi) is helpful in following health conditions.

Digestive Health

  • Constipation
  • Chronic dysentery

Skin & Hairs

  • Used as soothing and softening poultice

Kidney & Bladder

  • Dysuria (painful urination)
  • Gonorrheal cystitis
  • Cystitis
  • Urethritis

Other

  • Diabetes

Okra Benefits & Medicinal Uses

Okra (Bhindi) is nutritious and healthy food used as vegetable in Indian and African recipes. It provides Vitamin A, C and K. 100 grams okra immature seedpods provide only 30 calories, so it is also a great weight loss food. It reduces cholesterol and prevents atherosclerosis, so it is also beneficial for cardiac health.

Constipation

100 grams okra contains 3.2 grams fiber content, which helps keeping digestive system healthy. It also contains mucilage substance, which softens the stools and lubricates the intestines. Thus, it helps in a proper peristalsis and movement of fecal matter through the gut.

Chronic dysentery

Bland mucilage present in okra (bhindi) is beneficial in chronic dysentery. In this condition, cooked or raw pods are not used. Okra soup is more beneficial in the treatment of chronic dysentery.

You can prepare soup using raw okra and boil them in 200 ml water. Then simmer the water with okra and until water remains half. Now, add a pinch of black pepper, a slice of ginger, a pinch of long pepper and 1 to 2 grams nut grass powder. This remedy helps in acute as well as in chronic dysentery.

Dysuria (painful urination), Cystitis, Urethritis & Gonorrheal Cystitis

Okra mucilage substance also has anti-inflammatory properties and antibacterial action. It is also diuretic, which means it can increase urine output. Due to these characteristics, it helps in almost all problems related to kidneys, urinary balder and urethra. It reduces inflammation of these organs, eases in a proper urination, and alleviates pain during urination.

Diabetes

According to recent researches, okra can help in diabetes by reducing blood sugar level. Okra seeds help in this matter.

Animal studies showed that okra seeds could reduce the glucose absorption, which could also lead to reduction in the blood sugar level.

Dosage

There is no restriction for food amounts, but daily and regular consumption of a single food is not suggestible.

Okra (Bhindi) seeds are used for therapeutic purposes, so we should consider the dosage of okra seeds. The maximum of okra seed powder should not exceed from 5 grams a day.

Caution & Side Effects

Okra (Bhindi) as a vegetable is LIKELY SAFE in food amounts. You can eat it as cooked veggie or raw, but daily consumption may not be suitable for some people and can result in loss of appetite.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

Okra as vegetable is LIKELY SAFE in pregnancy and breastfeeding. The information about safety profile of okra seeds in pregnancy and breastfeeding is unknown, so be on safer side and avoid using okra seeds in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Drug Interactions

Okra seeds can interact with METFORMIN, a drug used in diabetes. Excess okra intake can reduce METFORMIN absorption and result in treatment failure, which ultimately lead to increased blood sugar level instead lowering it.

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