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Ceratonia siliqua

Botanical Name :Ceratonia siliqua
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Ceratonia
Species: C. siliqua
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Common Names:  carob tree, St John’s-bread, Locust Bean

Habitat  :Ceratonia siliqua is native to the Mediterranean region including Southern Europe, Northern Africa, the larger Mediterranean islands; to the Levant and Middle-East of Western Asia into Iran; and to the Canary Islands and Macaronesia. It grows in the  rocky places near the sea shore.

Description:
The Ceratonia siliqua tree grows up to 15 metres (49 ft) tall. The crown is broad and semi-spherical, supported by a thick trunk with brown rough bark and sturdy branches. Leaves are 10 to 20 centimetres (3.9 to 7.9 in) long, alternate, pinnate, and may or may not have a terminal leaflet. It is frost-tolerant.

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Most carob trees are dioecious. The trees blossom in autumn. The flowers are small and numerous, spirally arranged along the inflorescence axis in catkin-like racemes borne on spurs from old wood and even on the trunk (cauliflory); they are pollinated by both wind and insects. Male flowers produce a characteristic odour, resembling semen.

The fruit is a pod that can be elongated, compressed, straight or curved, and thickened at the sutures. The pods take a full year to develop and ripen. The ripe pods eventually fall to the ground and are eaten by various mammals, thereby dispersing the seed.

The seeds of Ceratonia siliqua contains leucodelphinidin, a colourless chemical compound

Cultivation:
Ceratonia siliqua is widely cultivated in the horticultural nursery industry as an ornamental plant for planting in Mediterranean climate and other temperate regions around the world, as its popularity in California and Hawaii shows. The plant develops a sculpted trunk and ornamental tree form when ‘limbed up’ as it matures, otherwise it is used as a dense and large screening hedge. When not grown for legume harvests the plant is very drought tolerant and part of ‘xeriscape’ landscape design for gardens, parks, and public municipal and commercial landscapes.

Propagation:
Seed – pre-soak for 24 hours in warm water prior to sowing. If the seed has not swollen then give it another soaking in warm water until it does swell up. Sow in a greenhouse in April[200]. Germination should take place within 2 months. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual deep pots and grow them on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Give them some protection from the cold for their first few winters outdoors.

Edible Uses:
Carob consumed by humans is the dried (and sometimes roasted) pod, and not the ‘nuts’ or seeds. Carob is mildly sweet and is used in powdered, chip, or syrup form as an ingredient in cakes and cookies, and as a substitute for chocolate.

Chocolate contains theobromine, which is poisonous to some mammals, but carob does not, and is used to make chocolate-flavored treats for dogs.

The seeds, also known as locust beans, are used as animal feed, and are the source of locust bean gum — a food thickening agent. Crushed pods may be used to make a beverage; compote, liqueur, and syrup are made from carob in Turkey, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Sicily. Several studies suggest that carob may aid in treating diarrhea in infants.[13] In Libya, carob syrup (there called rub) is used as a complement to Asida. The so-called carob syrup made in Peru is actually from the fruit of the Prosopis nigra tree.

Carob is rich in sugars – Sucrose = 531g ± 93 g/kg dry weight for cultivated varieties and 437 ± 77 g/kg in wild type varieties. Fructose and glucose levels do not differ between cultivated and wild type carob

Carob is a healthy substitute for  chocolate that is lower in calories. Roasted carob is naturally sweeter, (or not as bitter), as unsweetened chocolate, so it can be made palatable with less added sugar in recipes. Carob has a number of advantages over chocolate: it is hypoallergenic, and hypoglycemic. 55 The true trick to enjoying carob is to not expect it to taste exactly like chocolate,(and be forever disappointed), but to learn to appreciate carob for its own unique taste.

Traditional uses:
Carob was eaten in Ancient Egypt. Carob juice drinks are traditionally drunk during the Islamic month of Ramadan. It was also a common sweetener and was used in the hieroglyph for “sweet” (nedjem). Dried carob fruit is traditionally eaten on the Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat. Also it is believed to be an aphrodisiac.

In Cyprus, carob syrup is known as Cyprus’s black gold, and is widely exported.

In Malta, a syrup (?ulepp tal-?arrub) is made out of carob pods. This is a traditional medicine for coughs and sore throat. A traditional sweet, eaten during Lent and Good Friday, is also made from carob pods in Malta. However, carob pods were mainly used as animal fodder in the Maltese Islands, apart from times of famine or war when they formed part of the diet of many Maltese.

In the Iberian Peninsula, carob pods were used mainly as animal fodder, especially to feed donkeys.

Carob pods were an important source of sugar before sugarcane and sugar beets became widely available.

Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Aggressive surface roots possible. Requires a very sunny position in any well-drained moderately fertile soil[200]. Does well in calcareous, gravelly or rocky soils. Tolerates salt laden air. Tolerates a pH in the range 6.2 to 8.6. The tree is very drought resistant, thriving even under arid conditions, the roots penetrating deep into the soil to find moisture. This species is not very hardy in Britain but it succeeds outdoors in favoured areas of S. Cornwall[1], tolerating temperatures down to about -5°c when in a suitable position. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun. The carob is frequently cultivated in warm temperate zones for its edible seed and seed pods. Mature trees in a suitable environment can yield up to 400 kilos of seedpods annually. There are named varieties with thicker pods. Seeds are unlikely to be produced in Britain since the tree is so near (if not beyond) the limits of its cultivation. The seed is very uniform in size and weight, it was the original ‘carat’ weight of jewellers. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. Special Features:Edible, Not North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – pre-soak for 24 hours in warm water prior to sowing. If the seed has not swollen then give it another soaking in warm water until it does swell up. Sow in a greenhouse in April[200]. Germination should take place within 2 months. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual deep pots and grow them on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Give them some protection from the cold for their first few winters outdoors.

Medicinal  Uses::
Parts Used: Seed Pod
Constituents:  arginine, benzoic-acid , gallic-acid , glucose , pectin ,starch, sucrose ,tannin,tocopherol,tyrosine

Antidiarrhoeal;  Antiemetic;  Astringent;  Demulcent;  Emollient;  Purgative.

The pulp in the seedpods of carob is very nutritious and, due to its high sugar content, sweet-tasting and mildly laxative. However, the pulp in the pods is also astringent and, used in a decoction, will treat diarrhoea and gently help to cleanse and also relieve irritation within the gut. Whilst these appear to be contradictory effects, carob is an example of how the body responds to herbal medicines in different ways, according to how the herb is prepared and according to the specific medical problem. The seedpods are also used in the treatment of coughs. A flour made from the ripe seedpods is demulcent and emollient. It is used in the treatment of diarrhoea.   The seed husks are astringent and purgative. The bark is strongly astringent. A decoction is used in the treatment of diarrhoea.

Other Uses:  A flour made from the seedpods is used in the cosmetic industry to make face-packs. Tannin is obtained from the bark. Wood – hard, lustrous. Highly valued by turners, it is also used for marquetry and walking stick.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

 

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceratonia_siliqua
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ceratonia+siliqua
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail462.php

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Aerva lanata

Botanical Name :Aerva lanata Linn
Family: Amaranthaceae
Subfamily: Amaranthoideae
Genus: Aerva
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales
Species: A. lanata
Common Names:Cheroola, Chaya, Gorakha ganja, Kapurijadi, Cherupula, Kapur-madhura, Paunsia, Buikallan, Poolai, Pindiconda.

Vernacular Names:-
Bengali: Chaya.
Duk.: Kul -ke -jar, Khul.
Hindi:Gorakhbuti or Kapuri jadi.
Kannada: Bilesuli.
Malayalam: Cherula.
Marathi: Kapuri-madhura.
Punjabi: Bui-kaltan (flowers as sold in bazaars).
Rajasthani: Bhui.
Sanskrit: Astmabayda
Sindhi: Bhui, Jari.
Sinhalese-Pol pala.
Tamil: Sirru -pulay -vayr.
Telugu: Pinde-conda, Pindi-chetter.
Trans-Indus: Asmei, Spirke, Sasai.
Swahili: Kinongo
Akan-Asante bameha
Abure n-tanfa
Akye: munongbe
Baule akopinolé
Guere (Chiehn) ura ore, wore oré (K&B) wulo wulé (B&D)

Habitat :- Native to
Afrotropic:
Northeast Tropical Africa: Ethiopia, Somalia
East Tropical Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda
West-Central Tropical Africa: Cameroon, Rwanda, Zaire
West Tropical Africa: Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo
South Tropical Africa: Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe
Southern Africa: South Africa – Natal, Transvaal
Western Indian Ocean: Madagascar
Arabian Peninsula: Saudi Arabia
Indomalaya:
Indian Subcontinent: India, Sri Lanka
Malesia: Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines
Australasia: Queensland

Description:
A semi erect many branched under shrub grows up to 50 cm in height. Leaves are simple, alternate, short petioled, tomentose, and become smaller in the flowering twigs. Flowers are small sessile, greenish or whitish, often found in spikes. Fruits are greenish round compressed utricle, seeds kidney shaped and small.

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Aerva lanata  is a common weed which grows wild everywhere in plains of India. The root has a camphor like aroma. The dried flowers which look like soft spikes, are sold under the commercial name as Buikallan or Boor.

Edible Uses:
The whole plant, especially the leaves, is edible. The leaves are put into soup or eaten as a spinach or as a vegetable. The plant provides grazing for stock, game in and chickens.

Medicinal Uses:

The plant is said to be diuretic and demulcent. Its diuretic action is said to be very effective in the treatment of urethral discharges and gonorrhoea and is of value in cases of lithiasis and as an anthelmintic. A trace of alkaloid has been detected.

As per Ayurveda
Plant pacifies vitiated pitta, urinry infection, vesical calculi, cough, and boils.

Leaves
A leaf-decoction is prepared as a gargle for treating sore-throat and used in various complex treatments against guinea-worm. to wash Babies that have become unconscious during an attack of malaria or of some other disease are washed with a leaf decoction at the same time smoke from the burning plant is inhaled. The leaf-sap is also used for eye-complaints. An infusion is given to cure diarrhoea and in an unspecified manner at childbirth, and on sores.

Decoction of the flowers is said to cure stones in any part of the stomach and that of the root is diuretic and cure for kidney stones

Root
The root is used in snake-bite treatment.

Flowers
For pains in the lower part of the back leaves and flowers are reduced to ash which is rubbed into cuts on the back.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Other Uses:

Spiritual
It gives protection against evil spirits, is a good-luck talisman for hunters, and safeguards the well-being of widows.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerva_lanata
http://enchantingkerala.org/ayurveda/ayurvedic-medicinal-plants/cherula.php
http://vaniindia.org.whbus12.onlyfordemo.com/herbal/plantdir.asp

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Acalypha fruticosa

 

Botanical Name :Acalypha fruticosa Forssk.
Famille :   Euphorbiaceae
Genus: Acalypha

Synonyms:Acalypha betulina Retz, Acalypha capitata Wall. , Acalypha chrysadenia Suess. & Friedrich, Acalypha fruticosa var. villosa Hutch, Acalypha paxiana Dinter ex Pax & K.Hoffm.

Common Names: Cinna, Birch-leaved acalypha, Chinni, Sinnimaram, Sinni, Chinniaka.

Habitat :Africa, East Tropical Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda , Northeast Tropical Africa, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan  , Southern Africa, Namibia, Asia-Temperate, Arabian Peninsula, North Yemen, Saudi Arabia Asia-Tropical, Indian Subcontinent, Sri Lanka

Description:
An aromatic shrub up to 4 m tall.Stems pubescent and greenish at first, later glabrescent and reddish-brown.Petioles 0.53 cm long.Leaf blades 27 14.5 cm, ovate to rhombic-ovate, shortly caudate-acuminate at the apex, crenate-serrate to dentate on the margin, rounded to wide-cuneate or subtruncate at the base, membranous to thinly chartaceous, sparingly or evenly yellowish-pellucid gland-dotted beneath, sparingly to evenly pubescent on both surfaces, and usually more densely so along the midrib and main nerves beneath, 5(7)-nerved from the base; lateral nerves in 24 pairs.Stipules 34 mm, narrowly lanceolate, puberulous, chestnut-brown.Plants usually monoecious.Inflorescences rarely exceeding 2 cm in length, spicate, axillary, usually androgynous with a densely congested terminal male portion and with 14 bracteate female flowers at or near the base; male bracts 1 mm long, ovate, densely white-pubescent; female bracts foliaceous, accrescent to c. 810 1015 mm, broadly ovate to reniform, crenate or repand-dentate, sparingly yellow gland-dotted and often fairly prominently ribbed on the lower surface, sparingly pubescent, 1-flowered.Male flowers subsessile; buds tetragonous-subglobose, densely pubescent or white-tomentose.Female flowers sessile; sepals 3, 1 mm long, ovate-lanceolate, ciliate; ovary 0.7 mm in diameter, 3-lobed to subglobose, smooth, yellow-glandular in the grooves, densely pubescent; styles 4 mm long, free, laciniate, pink or red.Fruits 2 3 mm, 3-lobed, yellow gland-dotted, evenly pubescent-pilose.Seeds 1.52 11.3 mm, ellipsoid-ovoid, smooth, brown, with an elliptic vulviform caruncle.

You may click to see the pictures of  Acalypha fruticosa  

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Leaves: Ovate to rhombic-ovate, shortly caudate-acuminate at the apex, crenate-serrate to dentate on the margin . Stems: Pubescent and greenish at first, later glabrescent and reddish-brown . Flowers: Female flowers are arranged singly or up to threes in the inflorescence . Flowers: Female flowers are broadly ovate to reniform, crenate or repand-dentate, sparingly yellow, gland dotted and often fairly prominently ribbed on the lower surface . Flowers: Male flowers are ovate, densely white-pubescent . Fruits: Yellow gland-dotted, evenly pubescent-pilose, 3-lobed . Height: 0.1-2 m [5104]. Height: 1-2 m . Height: Up to 4 m tall.

Medicinal Uses:
Roots, humans, gonorrhoea: In East Africa the root is used for gonorrhoea (Bally 1937) . Leaves, humans, cholera: In Tanzania the leaves of variety villosa are used as a remedy for cholera (Brenan and Greenway 1949) . In East India and Arabia the leaves are used in cholera (Dragendorff 1898) . Roots, humans, venereal diseases (non-specified) : In central Africa venereal disease is treated with the root . Roots, humans, fever: A decoction of the root is used as a febrifuge ( Brenan and Greenway 1949) . Humans, fever: The Sukuma regard the plant as an active febrifuge . Roots, humans, venereal disease (non-specified) , oral ingestion: The Pare drink an infusion of the root for chancre (Bally 1937, 1938) . Humans, fever: The plant is said to be effective for fever.

Digestive System Disorders, leaves, humans, stomach; humans, stomach  Infections/Infestations, roots, humans, venereal diseases (non-specified); humans, fever ; leaves, humans, cholera; roots, humans, gonorrhoea; roots, humans, venereal diseases (non-specified) , oral ingestion; roots, humans, fever Inflammation, leaf juice, humans, eyes ; leaf juice, humans, eyes, inflammation, eye drops  Injuries, humans, wounds, dressings; humans, wounds Pain, humans, chest ; leaves, humans, stomach  Poisonings, humans, snake bites Respiratory System Disorders, humans, coughs Sensory System Disorders, leaves, humans, eyes, eye drops.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.prota4u.org/protav8.asp?fr=1&g=pe&p=Acalypha+fruticosa+Forssk.
http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?423292
http://vaniindia.org.whbus12.onlyfordemo.com/herbal/plantdir.asp

http://plants.jstor.org/specimen/b%2010%200153973

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Okra

Okra growing in a Sub-urban garden

Image via Wikipedia

Botanical Name:Abelmoschus esculentus
Family: Malvaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Malvales
Genus: Abelmoschus
synonym: Hibiscus esculentus L.

Other Names:
Okra, Okro, Ochro, Okoro, Quimgombo (Cuba), Quingumbo, Ladies Fingers,gombo, quingombo, Gombo, Kopi Arab, Kacang Bendi, Bhindi (S. Asia), Bendi (Malaysia), Bamia, Bamya or Bamieh (middle east), Gumbo (Southern USA), Quiabo, Quiabos (Portugal and Angola), okura (Japan), qiu kui (Taiwan),in India it is bhindi,eastern Mediterranean and Arab countries bamies.

Parts Used: Immature pods

Etymology, origin and distribution
The name “okra” is of West African origin . In various Bantu languages, okra is called “kingombo” or a variant thereof, and this is the origin of its name in Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and French. The Arabic “bemyah” is the basis of the names in the Middle East, the Balkans, Turkey, Greece, North Africa and Russia. In Southern Asia, its name is usually a variant of “bhindi” or “vendi.”

The species apparently originated in the Ethiopian Highlands, though the manner of distribution from there is undocumented. The Egyptians and Moors of the 12th and 13th centuries used the Arab word for the plant, suggesting that it had come from the east. The plant may thus have been taken across the Red Sea or the Bab-el-Mandeb strait to the Arabian Peninsula, rather than north across the Sahara. One of the earliest accounts is by a Spanish Moor who visited Egypt in 1216, who described the plant under cultivation by the locals who ate the tender, young pods with meal.

From Arabia, the plant spread around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and eastward. The lack of a word for okra in the ancient languages of India suggests that it arrived there in the Common Era. The plant was introduced to the Americas by ships plying the Atlantic slave trade by 1658, when its presence was recorded in Brazil. It was further documented in Suriname in 1686. Okra may have been introduced to the southeastern North America in the early 18th century and gradually spread. It was being grown as far north as Philadelphia by 1748, while Thomas Jefferson noted that it was well established in Virginia by 1781. It was commonplace throughout the southern United States by 1800 and the first mention of different cultivars was in 1806

Description:
Okra is a member of the Mallow family, related to cotton, hibiscus and hollyhock. It has heart shaped leaves (one species is cultivated for its edible leaves), and large, yellow, hibiscus-like flowers.
The species is an annual or perennial, growing to 2 m tall. The leaves are 10–20 cm long and broad, palmately lobed with 5–7 lobes. The flowers are 4–8 cm 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.

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It is a tall-growing, warm-season, annual vegetable from the same family as hollyhock, rose of Sharon and hibiscus. The pods, when cut, exude a mucilaginous juice that is used to thicken stews (gumbo), and have a flavor somewhat like a cross between asparagus and eggplant.

Cultivation:
Abelmoschus esculentus is among the most heat- and drought-tolerant vegetable species in the world. It will tolerate poor soils with heavy clay and intermittent moisture. Severe frost can damage the pods.
It is an annual crop in the southern United States.

Recommended Varieties :
Annie Oakley (hybrid; 52 days to harvest; compact plant; extra tender pods)

Dwarf Green Long Pod (52 days; ribbed pods)

Clemson Spineless (56 days; AAS winner)

In cultivation, the seeds are soaked overnight prior to planting to a depth of 1-2 cm. Germination occurs between six days (soaked seeds) and three weeks. Seedlings require ample water. The seed pods rapidly become fibrous and woody and must be harvested within a week of the fruit being pollinated to be edible.

The products of the plant are mucilaginous, resulting in the characteristic “goo” when the seed pods are cooked. In order to avoid this effect, okra pods are often stir fried, so the moisture is cooked away, or paired with slightly acidic ingredients, such as citrus or tomatoes. The cooked leaves are also a powerful soup thickener.

Based on the rising experiences with its country cousin, kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus), okra could, at least in principle, have a future producing yet more things that are strange for a vegetable crop, including:

*Construction materials: Kenaf-blend panels are said to perform better than the present particleboard.

*Handicrafts: Kenaf fiber makes excellent mats, hats, baskets, and more.

*Forage: Chopping up the whole kenaf plant and feeding it to animals has proven successful.

*Fuel: Kenaf roots and stems burn fiercely.

Uses:
Abelmoschus esculentus is cultivated throughout the tropical and warm temperate regions of the world for its fibrous fruits or pods containing round, white seeds. The fruits are harvested when immature and eaten as a vegetable.

The immature pods are used for soups, canning and stews or as a fried or boiled vegetable. The hibiscus like flowers and upright plant (3 to 6 feet or more in height) have ornamental value for backyard gardens.

A traditional food plant in Africa, this little-known vegetable has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.

In Egypt, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Yemen, and other parts of the eastern Mediterranean, okra is widely used in a thick stew made with vegetables and meat. In Indian cooking, it is sauteed or added to gravy-based preparations and is very popular in South India. In Caribbean islands okra is cooked up and eaten as soup, often with fish. In Haiti, it is cooked with rice and maize; it is also used as a sauce for meat. It became a popular vegetable in Japanese cuisine toward the end of the 20th century, served with soy sauce and katsuobushi or as tempura. It is used as a thickening agent in gumbo. Breaded, deep fried okra is served in the southern United States. The immature pods may also be pickled.

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Okra leaves may be cooked in a similar manner as the greens of beets or dandelions. The leaves are also eaten raw in salads. Okra seeds may be roasted and ground to form a non-caffeinated substitute for coffee. As imports were disrupted by the American Civil War in 1861, the Austin State Gazette noted, “An acre of okra will produce seed enough to furnish a plantation of fifty negroes with coffee in every way equal to that imported from Rio.

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Okra forms part of several regional “signature” dishes. Frango com quiabo (chicken with okra) is a Brazilian dish that is especially famous in the region of Minas Gerais. Gumbo, a hearty stew whose key ingredient is okra, is found throughout the Gulf Coast of the United States and in the South Carolina Lowcountry. The word “gumbo” is based on the Central Bantu word for okra, “kigombo”, via the Caribbean Spanish “guingambó” or “quimbombó”. It is also an expected ingredient in callaloo, a Caribbean dish and the national dish of Trinidad & Tobago. Okra is also enjoyed in Nigeria where okra soup (Draw soup) is a special delicacy with Garri(eba) or akpu.

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In Vietnam, okra is the important ingredient in the dish canh chua.

Mature okra is used to make rope and paper! (Avoid those old woody pods!).

Medicinal Uses:
Nutrition:
Okra is a good source of vitamin C and A, also B complex vitamins, iron and calcium. It is low in calories, a good source of dietary fiber, and is fat-free.

Okra oil is a pressed seed oil, extracted from the seeds of the okra. The greenish yellow edible oil has a pleasant taste and odor, and is high in unsaturated fats such as oleic acid and linoleic acid. The oil content of the seed is quite high at about 40%. Oil yields from okra crops are also high. At 794 kg/ha, the yield was exceeded only by that of sunflower oil in one trial.

Unspecified parts of the plant reportedly possess diuretic properties.

Contains male contraceptive gossypol.

According to Sylvia W. Zook, Ph.D. (nutritionist) Okra has several benefits.

1. The superior fiber found in okra helps to stabilize blood sugar by curbing the rate at which sugar is absorbed from the intestinal tract.

2. Okra’s mucilage binds cholesterol and bile acid carrying toxins dumped into it by the filtering liver.

3. Okra helps lubricate the large intestines due to its bulk laxative qualities. The okra fiber absorbs water and ensures bulk in stools. This helps prevent and improve constipation. Unlike harsh wheat bran, which can irritate or injure the intestinal tract, okra’s mucilage soothes, and okra facilitates elimination more comfortably by its slippery characteristic. Okra binds excess cholesterol and toxins (in bile acids). These, if not evacuated, will cause numerous health problems. Okra also assures easy passage out of waste from the body. Okra is completely non-toxic, non-habit forming, has no adverse side effects, is full of nutrients, and is economically within reach of most unlike the OTC drugs.

4. Okra fiber is excellent for feeding the good bacteria (probiotics). This contributes to the health of the intestinal tract.

5. Okra is a supreme vegetable for those feeling weak, exhausted, and suffering from depression.

6. Okra is used for healing ulcers and to keep joints limber. It helps to neutralize acids, being very alkaline, and provides a temporary protective coating for the digestive tract.

7. Okra treats lung inflammation, sore throat, and irritable bowel.

8. In India, okra has been used successfully in experimental blood plasma replacements.

To retain most of okra’s nutrients and self-digesting enzymes, it should be cooked as little as possible, e.g. with low heat or lightly steamed. Some eat it raw.

Specific Ailments:-

Acid Reflux and Constipation
A person, suffering from constipation for the past 20 years and recently from acid reflux, started eating 6 pieces of Okra. Since then, has not taken any other medication. Now, his blood sugar has dropped from 135 to 98 and his cholesterol and acid reflux are also under control.

Asthma
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. This anti-inflammatory activity may curtail the development of asthma symptoms. A large preliminary study has shown that young children with asthma experience significantly less wheezing if they eat a diet high in fruits rich in vitamin C. 1/2 cup of cooked Okra contains over 13 mg of vitamin C.

Atherosclerosis
Diets high in insoluble fiber, such as those containing okra, are associated with protection against heart disease in both men and women.

Cancer
The insoluble fiber found in Okra helps to keep the intestinal tract healthy, decreasing the risk of some forms of cancer, especially colo-rectal cancer.

Capillary fragility
Eating plenty of flavonoid and vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables such as okra helps to support the structure of capillaries.

Cataracts
1/2 cup of cooked okra contains 460 IU of vitamin A. Some studies have reported that eating more foods rich in beta-carotene or vitamin A was associated with a lower risk of cataracts.

Cholesterol
A study (JAMA July 23, 2003) showed that consuming a “dietary portfolio” of vegetarian foods lowered cholesterol nearly as well as the prescription drug lovastatin (Mevacor). The diet was rich in soluble fiber from oats, barley, psyllium, eggplant and okra. It used soy substitutes instead of meat and milk and included almonds and cholesterol-lowering margarine (such as Take Control) every day.

Depression and Lack of Energy
Okra is a supreme vegetable for those feeling weak, exhausted, and suffering from depression.

High homocysteine
A controlled trial showed that eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables containing folic acid, beta-carotene, and vitamin C effectively lowered homocysteine levels. Healthy people were assigned to either a diet containing a pound of fruits and vegetables per day, or to a diet containing 3 1/2 ounces (99g) of fruits and vegetables per day. After four weeks, those eating the higher amount of fruits and vegetables had an 11 percent lower homocysteine level compared to those eating the lower amount of fruits and vegetables. Okra is a storehouse of vitamins and folic acid.

Multiple sclerosis (MS)
In one survey, researchers gathered information from nearly 400 people (half with MS) over three years. They found that consumption of vegetable protein, fruit juice, and foods rich in vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, and potassium correlated with a decreased MS risk.

Click & read……..>To deliver drugs, try veggies

Known Hazards  : The hairs on the seed pods can be an irritant to some people and gloves should be worn when harvesting. These hairs can be easily removed by washing.

Known Hazards :  The hairs on the seed pods can be an irritant to some people and gloves should be worn when harvesting. These hairs can be easily removed by washing.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okra#cite_note-tamu-1
http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/veggies/okra1.html
http://www.foodreference.com/html/artokra.html
http://www.holisticonline.com/herbal-med/_Herbs/h_okra.htm

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Abelmoschus+esculentus