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SYSTEMATIC PHARMACEUTICAL OVERVIEW ON: ABELMOSCHUS ESCULENTUS

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About Author:
Shankul kumar
Assistant professor, Dept. of Pharmacognosy
GHB Pharmacy College, Aniyad, Shehra, Gujarat, India
Kumar.sankul@gmail.com

Abstract:
Abelmoschus esculentusL., is commonlyknown as lady's fingers, bhindi, okra or gumbo, is a flowering plant belongs to family malvaceae. The geographical origin of okra is disputed, with supporters of South Asian, Ethiopian and West African origins. The plant is cultivated in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions around the world.The species is an annual or perennial, growing to 2 m tall. Okra is a popular health food due to its high fiber, vitamin C, and folate content. It is also a good source of calcium and potassium. In addition, the plant has been used medicinally in treatment of several disorders like Anti-cancer, antimicrobial, hypoglycaemic and anti-ulcer activity etc.It is also known for being high in antioxidants.The aim of present review is to highlight the Pharmacognostical, phytochemical, pharmacological, and pharmaceutical investigation carried out on the plant and its constituents.

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REFERENCE ID: PHARMATUTOR-ART-1861

Introduction
Plants have been the traditional source of raw materials for medicines. A rich heritage of knowledge on preventive and curative medicines was available in ancient scholastic work included in the Atharva veda, Charaka, Sushrutha, etc. An estimate suggests that about 13,000 plant species worldwide are known to have use as drugs. Thus from the very beginning of his existence, man has familiarized himself with plants and used them in a variety of ways. Therefore some plants came to be widely used as food, while other showed beneficial effects against various human sufferings such as injuries and diseases. This relationship has grown between plants and knowledge to cure diseases continues at an accelerating pace and the number of new plants.      According to an all India ethno biological survey carried out by the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India, there are over 8000 species of plants being used by the people of India1,2.There has been resurgence in the consumption and demand for medicinal plants. These plants are finding use as pharmaceuticals, neutraceuticals, cosmetics and food supplements. Even as traditional source of medicines and they continue to play pivotal role.

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Abelmoschus esculentusL., is commonlyknown as lady's fingers, bhindi, okra or gumbo, is a flowering plant belongs to family malvaceae. The geographical origin of okra is disputed, with supporters of South Asian, Ethiopian and West African origins. The plant is cultivated in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions around the world.The species is an annual or perennial, growing to 2 m tall. It is related to such species as cotton, cocoa, and hibiscus. Okra is a popular health food due to its high fiber, vitamin C, and folate content. It is also a good source of calcium and potassium. Greenish-yellow edible okra oil is pressed from okra seeds has a pleasant taste and odor, and is high in unsaturated fats such as oleic acid and linoleic acid3,4.In addition, the plant has been used medicinally in treatment of several disorder5,6 like Anti-cancer, antimicrobial, hypoglycaemic and anti-ulcer activity7,8 etc.It is also known for being high in antioxidants.The aim of present review is to highlight the Pharmacognostical, phytochemical, pharmacological, and pharmaceutical investigation carried out on the plant and its constituents so that the more scientific studies could be conducted to investigate the unexploited potential.

Plant Profile:
Abelmoschus esculentusL., is commonlyknown as lady's fingers, bhindi, okra or gumbo, is a flowering plant belongs to family malvaceae. It is valued for its edible green seed pods. The geographical origin of okra is disputed, with supporters of South Asian, Ethiopian and West African origins. The plant is cultivated in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions around the world.The species is an annual or perennial, growing to 2 m tall. It is related to such species as cotton, cocoa, and hibiscus.

Botanical Description4:

  • The leaves are 10–20 cm long and broad, palmately lobed with 5–7 lobes,Alternate and stipulate.
  • Stem is erect, aerial, herbaceous or woody, usually solid, cylindrical and branched.Herbaceous portion of stem is covered with scaly hairs, woody part is fibrous.
  • The flowers are 4–8 cm in diameter, with five white to yellow petals, often with a red or purple spot at the base of each petal.
  • The fruit is a capsule up to 18 cm long, containing numerous seeds.


Other Names:
Kacang Bendi, qiu kui, Okra, okura, Okro, Quiabos, Ochro, Quiabo, Okoro, Gumbo, Quimgombo, Bamieh, Bamya, Quingumbo, Bamia, Ladies Fingers, Bendi, Gombo, Bhindi, Kopi Arab

History: Okra was first found in former Abyssinia (present Ethiopia), and was later distributed to the Caribbean, South America, North America, Africa, India, and Eastern Mediterranea.

Chemical Composition:
The chemical composition of okra bast fibre (Abelmoschus esculentus variety) are 67.5% a-cellulose, 15.4% hemicellulose, 7.1% lignin, 3.4% pectic matter, 3.9% fatty and waxy matter and 2.7% aqueous extract.

Edible Uses:

  • Immature fruit - cooked on their own or added to soups etc. They can be used fresh or dried. Mucilaginous, they are commonly used as a thickening for soups, stews and sauces. The fruits are rich in pectin and are also a fair source of iron and calcium. The fresh fruits contain 740 iu vitamin A.
  •  Seed - cooked or ground into a meal and used in making bread or made into 'tofu' or 'tempeh'. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute. The seed contains up to 22% of an edible oil.

Medicinal Uses

  • As Antispasmodic; Demulcent; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Emollient; Stimulant; Vulnerary.
  • The roots are very rich in mucilage, having a strongly demulcent action. This mucilage can be used as a plasma replacement. An infusion of the roots is used in the treatment of syphilis. The juice of the roots is used externally in Nepal to treat cuts, wounds and boils.
  • The leaves furnish an emollient poultice. A decoction of the immature
  • Capsules are demulcent, diuretic and emollient. It is used in the treatment of catarrhal infections, ardor urinae, dysuria and gonorrhoea.
  • The seeds are antispasmodic, cordial and stimulant. An infusion of the roasted seeds has sudorific properties9.

According to Sylvia Zook, a qualified nutritional specialist, states that okra can favour one's body due to its properties4:

  • Okra contains special fibre which takes sugar levels in blood under control, providing sugar quantity, acceptable for the bowels.
  • Mucilage, found in okra, is responsible for washing away toxic substances and bad cholesterol, which loads the liver.
  • Purgative properties okra possesses are beneficial for bowel purification. Due to okra fibre content, sufficient water levels in faces are ensured. Consequently, no discomfort and constipation bothers the patient. Wheat bran, applied for this purpose, can impose certain irritation on the bowels, while okra makes it smooth and all-convenient and safe for the user. Mucilage provides soft effect on the bowels. Stimulating bile movement, okra washes excess cholesterol and harmful substances from the body. This benefits the organism in general, as the toxins and bad cholesterol can induce various health conditions. Okra poses no threat to the organism, causes no addiction; it is completely safe and reliable. Moreover, it contains a bunch of useful nutrients and is cheaper than chemical alternatives.
  • Fibre okra contains is a valuable nutrient for intestine microorganisms. This ensures proper intestine functionality.
  • Okra ensures recovery from psychological and mental conditions, like anxiety, depression and general weakness.
  • Okra is an effective remedy for ulcers and joint healthiness. It is used to counteract the acids, due to its alkaline origin. It also guards the mucous membranes of the digestive system, by covering them with additional layer.
  • Okra is additionally applied for pulmonary inflammations, bowel irritations, and sore throat.
  • According to Indian researches, okra is a complex replacement for human blood plasma.

Other Uses
A fibre obtained from the stems is used as a substitute for jute. It is also used in making paper and textiles. The fibres are about 2.4mm long. When used for paper the stems are harvested in late summer or autumn after the edible seedpods have been harvested, the leaves are removed and the stems are steamed until the fibres can be stripped off. The fibres are cooked for 2 hours with lye and then put in a ball mill for 3 hours. The paper is cream coloured. A decoction of the root or of the seeds is used as a size for paper10.

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Phytochemistry
The preliminary phytochemical screening shows the presence of various phytoconstituent like Carbohydrate, Gum and Mucilage, Protein, Amino acid, Flavonoid, Phytosterol, Tannin and Phenol. Other phytochemical work done on plant is:

  • In an earlier study, Karakottsides and Constantinides (1975) found that the Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER) of Gumbo seed flour heated at 130ºC for 3hr was not different from the nonheated flour, indicating the absence of anti-nutritional factors. According to these authors, the amino acid composition of gumbo seed protein is similar to that of soybean and the PER is higher than that of soybean11.
  • Rubatzky and Yamaguchi (1997) reported that the seed is a rich source of protein and oil; contains cyclopropenoid fatty acids which cause some toxicity concerns and is used as a substitute for coffee in some countries12.
  • Hydrolysis of okra mucilage revealed that the polysaccharide was composed of galacturonic acid, galactose, rhamnose and glucose13 (1.3 : 1 .O : 0.1 : 0.1)
  • A new flavonol glycoside characterized as 5,7,3′,4′-tetrahydroxy-4′′-O-methyl flavonol -3-O-β-D- glucopyranoside (1) has been isolated from the fruit of A. esculentus together with one known compound 5,7,3′,4′-tetrahydroxy flavonol -3-O-[β-D-glucopyranosyl-(1→6)]-β-D-glucopyranoside (2). The structure of the new compound was elucidated on the basis of its spectral data, including 2-D NMR and mass (MS) spectra14.
  • Twelve compounds were isolated from petroleum ether portion of Abelmoschus esculentus and identified as 9,19-23 (Z)-cycloart-23-en-3beta, 25-diol, ergost-7,22-diene-3beta,5alpha,6beta-triol,5alpha, 6alpha-epoxyergost-8(14), 22-dien-3beta, 7alpha-diol, 5alpha,8alpha-epidioxyergost-22-en-3beta-ol, stigmast-5-ene-3beta,7alpha-diol, stigmast-5, 22-diene-3beta,7alpha-diol, stigmast-4-en-3beta,6beta-diol, stigmast-4,22-diene-3beta,6beta-diol, stigmast-4-ene-3, 6-dione, stigmast-4-ene-3-one ,beta-sitosterol, daucosterol15.
  • The two major constituents of the lipid fraction, palmitic and stearic acids, were apparently responsible for the antimicrobial properties of the okra extract16.
  • The pulp of Abelmoschus esculentus L. presented the lowest amount of total phenolic content (10.75±0.02 mg Gallic acid equivalent per 100 gm of extract) while a higher value was observed from the seeds 142.48±0.02 mg Gallic acid equivalent per 100 gm of extract17.
  • The qualitative and quantitative analysis of methanolic and acetone extracts from seeds and pulp of Abelmoschus esculentusL.  Using RP-HPLC shows phenolic compounds found in the extracts include catechin, procatechin, procyanidin B1, procyanidin B2, quercetin,rutin which is identified by comparisons to retention time and UV spectra18.
  • Nine flavonol glycosides – quercetin-4’-glucoside, quercetin-7-glucoside, quercetin-5-glucoside, quercetin-3-(O-glucosylglucoside)-4’-(O-glucosylglucoside), quercetin-3-(di-O-glucosylglucoside), quercetin-5-(O-rhamnoglucoside), gossypetin-8-glucoside, gossypetin-8-(O-rhamnoglucoside), gossypetin-3-8-(O-rhamnosylglucoside)- and two anthocyanins – cyaniding-4-glucoside and cyaniding-3-glucoside-4’-glucoside – isolated from flower petals. (Rastogi and Mehrotra, 1960-1969)
  • Okra-mucilage R, isolated from roots, found to be a partially acetylated polysaccharide composed of rhamnose, galactose, galacturonic acid in molar ratio of 1.1:1.9:1.0:1.0. (Rastogi and Mehrotra, 1970-1979)a.
  • Malvalic, sterculic and vernolic acids identified in seed oil. (Rastogi and Mehrotra, 1970-1979)b.
  • Quercetin and hyperin identified in ripe fruits; hydrolysis of fruit extract yielded glucose and glucuronic and galacturonic acids. (Rastogi and Mehrotra, 1970-1979)c.
  • Volatile compounds liberated on rubbing the seeds of Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench were identified. These substances were shown to be stored in lenticular formations extending along the surfaces of the seeds. Fractionation of an ethanolic extract of the seed teguments led to identification of more than 40 compounds new to A. esculentus, including a major proportion of aliphatic esters and aldehydes such as undecanal and isododecanal, which are largely responsible for the fragrance of the seeds.(Camciuc et al., 1999).

Pharmacological studies

Antimicrobial activity
Six different organic solvents such as n-butanol, petroleum ether, methanol, ethyl acetate and chloroform were used to extract the bioactive compounds from the fruits of Abelmoschus esculentus to screen the antibacterial activity against infectious disease causing bacterial pathogens such as Bacillus subtilis, Streptococcus pyogens, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Proteus mirabillis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa by paper disc method. The butanolic extract of Abelmoschus esculentus was more active against almost 90% of the organism tested19.

The antimicrobial properties of both lyophilized and fresh water extracts of the okra pods were assessed against Rhodococcus erythropolis and R. opacus, Mycobacterium sp. and M. aurum, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Xanthobacter Py2. The extracts were effective against all bacterial strains tested, except R. erythropolis and the fresh extract displayed better antimicrobial properties than the lyophilized extract16.

Antidiabetic activity or hypoglycaemic effect
The anti diabetic activity of Abelmoschus Esculentus (ladiesfinger )fruit extract was observed in rabbits (2.5 kgs).Artificial Diabetic nature was induced in rabbits by injecting ALOXAN. Here the suspending agent is SPAN-90. The standard drug METFORMINE 1mg/ml and Abelmoschus esculentus 1 mg/ml were dissolved in saline water and given orally. The blood glucose level of rabbits was noted at regular intervals of time. A gradual decrease in the blood glucose levels was observed by regular feeding of “okra” Abelmoschus esculentus ( ladiesfinger) fruit extract for about ten days20.

The hypoglycemic effect of ethanolic and aqueous extract of Abelmoschus esculentus Linn fruit were studied, aqueous extract at a dose- level of 300 mg/kg, Showed significant activity (P< 0.001) when compared with control group. Comparatively aqueous extract have shown better activity than the ethanolic extract21,22.

Hypolipidaemic Activity
The hypolipidemic effect of extracts from Abelmoschus esculentus L. on tyloxapol – induced hyperlipidemia in mice. Preliminary experiments demonstrated that 24h after administration, all 4 extracts from total plant by dichloromethan (AE1) and by methanol (AE2), also from fruit by dichloromethan (AE3) and by methanol (AE4) remarkably reduced the cholesterol and triglycerides levels in the plasma of hyperlipidemic mice. The hypocholesterolemic effect of 4 extracts was equivalent with this effect of simvastatine. The hypotriglyceridemic effect of AE1, AE2, and AE3 was similar to simvastatine effect but AE4 extract effect reduced triglycerides levels less than simvastatine23.

Antioxidant activity
A new flavonol glycoside characterized as 5,7,3′,4′-tetrahydroxy-4′′-O-methyl flavonol -3-O-β-D- glucopyranoside (1) has been isolated from the fruit of A. esculentus together with one known compound 5,7,3′,4′-tetrahydroxy flavonol -3-O-[β-D-glucopyranosyl-(1→6)]-β-D-glucopyranoside (2). The structure of the new compound was elucidated on the basis of its spectral data, including 2-D NMR and mass (MS) spectra. The antioxidant activities of the isolated compounds 1 and 2 were evaluated by 2 assays, the 1,1-diphenyl-2-picryl-hydrazyl (DPPH) and ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP). The results show that the two flavonol glycosides have strong ability for scavenging DPPH and FRAP free radical by the experiment of antioxidant activities, so A. esculentus may be a natural antioxidants resource24,25.

Neuroprotective effects
okra (Abelmoschus esculentus Linn.) extract and its derivatives (quercetin and rutin) to protect neuronal function and improve learning and memory deficits in mice subjected to dexamethasone treatment. Learning and memory functions in mice were examined using the Morris water maze test. The results showed that the mice treated with dexamethasone had prolonged water maze performance latencies and shorter time spent in the target quadrant while mice pretreated with quercetin, rutin or okra extract prior to dexamethasone treatment showed shorter latencies and longer time spent in target quadrant. Morphological changes in pyramidal neurons were observed in the dexamethasone treated group. The number of CA3 hippocampal neurons was significantly lower while pretreated with quercetin, rutin or okra attenuated this change. Prolonged treatment with dexamethasone altered NMDA receptor expression in the hippocampus. Pretreatment with quercetin, rutin or okra extract prevented the reduction in NMDA receptor expression. Dentate gyrus (DG) cell proliferation was examined using the 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU) immunohistochemistry technique. The number of BrdU-immunopositive cells was significantly reduced in dexamethasone-treated mice compared to control mice. Pretreatment with okra extract, either quercetin or rutin was found to restore BrdU-immunoreactivity in the dentate gyrus. These findings suggest that quercetin, rutin and okra extract treatments reversed cognitive deficits, including impaired dentate gyrus (DG) cell proliferation, and protected against morphological changes in the CA3 region in dexamethasone-treated mice26.

Antiulcer activity
Five herbal remedies used as gastroprotective crude drugs in Turkey were assessed for anti-ulcerogenic activity using the EtOH-induced ulcerogenesis model in rat. The crude drugs investigated comprises fruits of Elaeagnus angustifolia L. (Elaeagnaceae), fresh fruits of Hibiscus esculentus L. (Malvaceae), fresh roots of Papaver rhoeas L. (Papaveraceae), leaves of Phlomis grandiflora H.S. Thomson (Lamiaceae) and fresh fruits of Rosa canina L. (Rosaceae). Extracts were prepared according to the traditional indications of use. Under our experimental conditions, all extracts exhibited statistically significant gastroprotective effect with better results for Phlomis grandiflora and Rosa canina (100%). At the concentration under study, both crude drugs were more effective than the reference compound misoprostol at 0.4 mg/kg27.

Miscellaneous information: Pharmaceutical aid

Suspending agent
The mucilage from the pods of Abelmoschus esculentus was subjected to Preformulation study for evaluation of its safety and suitability for use as suspending agent. The mucilage extracted is devoid of toxicity. Suspensions of paracetamol were prepared and compared with different concentrations (1%, 2%, 3% and 4% w/v) of Abelmoschus esculentus mucilage, sodium CMC and tragacanth gum. Their sedimentation profile, redispersibility, degree of flocculation and rheolgical behavior were compared. The mucilage was found to be a superior suspending agent than tragacanth and is comparable to sodium CMC28.

Binding agent for Tablet
The effectiveness as binder, two models, including a placebo formulation (lactose) and a drug formulation (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, and/or Calcium acetate) were evaluated. Granules were prepared by different concentrations (0.5-6 %w/w) of Okra gum and tabletted using a Kilian single punch press. Cornstarch (12.5 % w/w) and P.V.P (22 %w/w) were employed as the standard binders for comparison. The physical properties of the granulates and those of the tablets including disintegration time and dissolution rate were studied. The properties of placebo granulates (bulk and tapped density, granule strength, flowability) as well as those of tablets (hardness, friability, disintegration time) were generally good. Moreover, the physical properties of Ibuprofen and Calcium acetate tablets containing Okra gum showed sufficient hardness, desirable disintegration time and low friability29,30.

Acknowledgment
The authors are thankful to, The Chairman, Director, and Principal of GHB college of Pharmacy for providing facilities.

References
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18.Panadda K, Walaiporn T, Noppakun P, Maitree S, Piyanete C. Antioxidative activities and phenolic content of extracts from okra (Abelmoschus esculentus Linn.). Research Journal of Biological Sciences 2010;5(4):310-13.
19.Yogesh Chaudhari , E. P. Kumar, Manisha Badhe, Hardik R. Mody, Vamshikrishna B. Acharya. An Evaluation of Antibacterial Activity of Abelmoschus esculentus on ClinicallyIsolated Infectious Disease Causing Bacterial Pathogen from Hospital. Int.J.Pharm.Phytopharmacol.Res. 2011, 1(3): 107-111.
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