Abelmoschus (Hibiscus) Esculentus – Okra (bhindi) Benefits

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 Name ABELMOSCHUS ESCULENTUS (HIBISCUS ESCULENTUS)
Plant Family MALVACEAE (MALLOWS)
Hindi Name BHINDI
Sanskrit Name TINDISHA, PITALI, GANDHAMULA
English Name OKRA, LADIES’ FINGER, EDIBLE HIBISCUS, OCKRO
Other Names BENDI, RAMTURAI, DUK

Botanical Classification (Taxonomy)

Kingdom PLANTAE
Sub-Kingdom VIRIDIPLANTAE
Infra Kingdom STREPTOPHYTA  (land plants)
Super Division EMBRYOPHYTA
Division TRACHEOPHYTA (TRACHEOPHYTES or Vascular Plants)
Sub Division SPERMATOPHYTINA (SPERMATOPHYTES or Seed Plants)
Class MAGNOLIOPSIDA
Super Order ROSANAE
Order MALVALES
Family MALVACEAE (MALLOWS)
Genus ABELMOSCHUS (OKRA)
Species ABELMOSCHUS ESCULENTUS (OKRA)

Plant Description

Type of Plant Perennial 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
Leaves 10–20 cm long having 5 to 7 palmate lobes and broad in shape
Flowers 4–8 cm in diameter with 5 light yellow petals
Fruits/Pods 5 to 10 cm long Fibrous fruits (seedpods) containing mucilage substance and white seeds
Seeds Round 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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2 Comments
  1. Jolly says

    In this article, you did mention that okra can be used for skin as soothing and softening. But you didn’t mention the safety dosage for skin. May I know the toxicology of dermal contact or safety dosage of okra for skin?

    1. Ayur Times says

      Yes, okra has soothing and softening effects on the skin. Fresh okra should be boiled and then crushed to make paste. You can also add olive oil in it. Powder made from dry okra can be mixed in water and oil to make paste. This is pasted is applied to the skin for soothing and softening effects.

      For hair, okra is boiled in water and this water is used to wash hair.

      Precaution: If you are using it on face, avoid its contact to eyes. It may cause irritation in eyes.

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