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Abelmoschus esculentus – Okra – Ajaytao

 

Abelmoschus esculentus - Okra - Ajaytao

Abelmoschus esculentus – Okra – Ajaytao

Common name: Ladies Finger, Okra

Vernacular names: Common okra, okra, okro, lady’s finger (En), Gombo commun, gombo, gumbo (Fr), Quiabeiro (Po), Mbamia, mbinda (Sw), China: qiu kui, Middle East (in Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew, and Turkish), it is called bamia or bamyeh, Bosnia and Herzegovina: bamija, Dominican Republic: molondron, Sinhalese : Bandakka, Spanish : Gombo, Ají turco, Thai : Krachiap, Ton krachiap, Polish : Czyli okra, Ketmia jadalna, Romanian: Bame.

Bhindi भिन्डी (Hindi), Belendri (Manipuri), Vendaikkaay (Tamil), Sanskrit : Bhenda, Darvika, Gandhamula, Pitali, Tindisa, Tindisha.

Botanical name: Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench

Family: Malvaceae (mallow Family)
Genus: Abelmoschus
Species: A. esculentus

Synonyms: Hibiscus esculentus L. (1753).

A member of the hibiscus family, okra is an annual that gets 3-8′ tall (depending on the cultivar) and bears yellow flowers that give rise to the familiar okra pods so valued in Cajun gumbos. It is valued for its edible green seed pods The plant is a rather coarse annual with large lobed, slightly spiny leaves and a thick, semiwoody stem with few branches and bears yellow flowers that give rise to the familiar okra pods so common in India as a fried vegetable.

The genus Abelmoschus originated in South-East Asia. Abelmoschus esculentus, however, is a cultigen of uncertain origin. It is widespread in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions, but is particularly popular in West Africa, India, the Philippines, Thailand and Brazil. Abelmoschus esculentus has been reported from the whole of tropical Africa, whereas West African okra (Abelmoschus caillei (A.Chev.) Stevels) is restricted to the humid and perhumid climates of Africa.

Okra’s attractive blossoms are ivory or yellow in color, funnel-shaped and resemble hibiscus flowers. The throat of the flower is maroon. The plant is a rather coarse annual with large lobed, slightly spiny leaves and a thick, semi woody stem with few branches. The flowers are showy: hibiscus-like with pale yellow or cream colored petals and purplish hearts.

Okra blooms and produces over an extended season, usually until first frost. Cornucopia II lists 25 varieties of okra available from American seedsmen. They come in green, pale lime, purple and red pod colors. Some are adapted especially for northern climates, even performing well in southern Canada. Some are dwarf varieties, suited for small gardens; some are spineless and some are velvety until cooked. The standard American okra is ‘Clemson Spineless”, accounting for some 90% of commercial production, and serving the home gardener well for many decades.

Abelmoschus esculentus - Okra - Ajaytao

Abelmoschus esculentus – Okra – Ajaytao

Stout, annual, erect herb up to 4 m tall, more or less strongly branched; stem terete, with scattered, stiff hairs, glabrescent, often red-blotched; branches erect to curved downwards. Leaves arranged spirally, simple, variable in shape and size; stipules filiform, up to 2 cm long, often split to the base, covered with stiff hairs; petiole up to 50 cm long, often red-tinged, with a line of soft, simple hairs on the upper side, otherwise with scattered, stiff hairs and glabrescent; blade transversally elliptical to orbicular in outline, up to 50 cm broad, length of midrib up to 35 cm, mostly 3-, 5- or 7-palmatilobed to palmatipartite, cordate at base, 5–9-veined, segments triangular, ovate, elliptical, obovate, oblong, spatulate or lanceolate, acuminate, serrate to crenate, sometimes entire or angular, veins on both sides with scattered, stiff hairs, glabrescent. Flowers axillary, solitary or racemose by reduction or abortion of the upper leaves; pedicel up to 3 cm long in flower, up to 7 cm in fruit, with scattered, stiff hairs, glabrescent; epicalyx segments 7–15, free, linear to lanceolate, 5–25 mm × 0.5–3 mm, acute to acuminate, caducous at flowering or soon after, covered with stiff hairs; calyx spathaceous, 2–6 cm long, 5-toothed apically, usually splitting on one side at the expansion of the corolla, adnate to and caducous with the corolla and staminal column, strigose to sericeous; petals 5, free, obovate to orbicular, 3–7 cm long, base fleshy, apex obtuse to retuse, glabrous, yellow, often turning pink after anthesis, with a dark purple centre; stamens united into a staminal column up to 2.5 cm long, white, glabrous; ovary superior, tomentose, often with some stiff hairs on the costae as well, 5–10 style arms 3–5 mm long, stigmas dark purple, with simple hairs. Fruit an erect, cylindrical to pyramidal capsule 5–25 cm × 1–5 cm, acuminate, terete to 5–10-angled, concave between the costae, gradually losing its original indumentum, when young varying in colour from purple-red and reddish-green to dark green, and from pale green to yellow, completely or partially loculicidal or not opening at all, up to 100-seeded. Seeds globose to ovoid, 3–6 mm in diameter, with minute warts in concentric rows, rarely with long red hairs on the seed coat. Seedling with epigeal germination.

Abelmoschus esculentus (usually 2n = 130) is probably an amphidiploid (allotetraploid), derived from Abelmoschus tuberculatus Pal & H.B.Singh (2n = 58), a wild species from India, and a species with 2n = 72 chromosomes (possibly Abelmoschus ficulneus (L.) Wight & Arn. ex Wight).

Another edible okra species, Abelmoschus caillei (A.Chev.) Stevels, occurs in the humid parts of West and Central Africa. There are strong indications that also Abelmoschus caillei is an amphidiploid with Abelmoschus esculentus being one of the parental species.

There are no apparent differences in use between the common and West African okra, which is why they are often lumped together. Morphologically Abelmoschus caillei differs in several respects from Abelmoschus esculentus, but the epicalyx offers the best discriminating characteristic: the width of the epicalyx segments is 0.5–3 mm in Abelmoschus esculentus and 4–13 mm in Abelmoschus caillei. The two okra species can be quite reliably (but not with absolute certainty) recognized on the basis of fruit form. Fruits of Abelmoschus esculentus are cylindrical to pyramidal, whereas fruits of Abelmoschus caillei are ovoid. Literature references on common okra have to be interpreted with care because they may include information related to Abelmoschus caillei.

Culture

Light: Full sun for best production.

Moisture: Keep fast growing okra well watered.

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 – 11. Okra is a hot weather annual. Don’t even think of planting your okra seeds until summer has arrived and the nights stay above 55 F. Best growth occurs when soil temperatures are above 65 F. From seedling to first harvest takes only about 60 days, however. If your warm weather growing season is shorter than that, start the plants indoors, setting out after all danger of frost has passed, and maybe even use a cold frame on the cooler nights.

Propagation: You can speed up germination if you soak okra seeds in water for 24 hours before planting. Sow seeds about a half inch deep in one long row or in rows 3′ apart, and thin to 12 or 18″ between plants.

There are many cultivars of common okra. Some of the better known are ‘Clemson Spineless’, ‘Indiana’, ‘Emerald’ (United States) and ‘Pusa Sawani’ (India), which have been in use for about 30 years.

Abelmoschus esculentus - Okra - Ajaytao

Abelmoschus esculentus – Okra – Ajaytao

Uses

Food

Okra is a popular health food due to its high fiber, vitamin C, and folate content. Okra is also known for being high in antioxidants. Okra is also a good source of calcium and potassium.

It is popular in Indian and Pakistani cuisine, where chopped pieces are stir-fried with spices, pickled, salted or added to gravy-based preparations such as bhindi ghosht and sambar. Okra is cut into small circular pieces about 1/4 inch thick and stick fried in oil with salt and hot pepper powder to make delicious curry.

In Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Albania, Bosnia, Greece, Bulgaria, Republic of Macedonia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Yemen, and other parts of the eastern Mediterranean, including Palestine, Cyprus and Israel, okra is widely used in a thick stew made with vegetables and meat.

In Malaysia okra is commonly a part of yong tau foo cuisine, typically stuffed with processed fish paste (surimi) and boiled with a selection of vegetables and tofu, and served in a soup with noodles.

In Malawi it is preferred cooked and stirred with sodium bicarbonate to make it more slimy. It is then commonly eaten with nsima (pap) made from raw maize flour or maize husks flour.

In the Philippines, okra can be found among traditional dishes like pinakbet, dinengdeng, and sinigang. Because of its mild taste and ubiquity, okra can also be cooked adobo-style, or served steamed or boiled in a salad with tomatoes, onion and bagoong.

It became a popular vegetable in Japanese cuisine toward the end of the 19th century, served with soy sauce and katsuobushi, or as tempura.

In the Caribbean islands, okra is eaten in soup. In Curaçao the soup is known as jambo which primarily is made out of the okra’s mucilage. It is often prepared with fish and funchi, a dish made out of cornmeal and boiling water. In Haiti, it is cooked with rice and maize, and also used as a sauce for meat. In Cuba, it is called quimbombó, along with a stew using okra as its primary ingredient. In Dominican Republic is eaten as if in salad and also cooked with rice.

Okra is low in calories and high in vitamins A and C and in calcium, iron and protein. Properly prepared, it is delicious and not at all mucilaginous or “slimy.” Americans rank okra as one of their least favorite vegetables. Apparently they haven’t had whole okra sautéed in olive oil, or pickled okra, or a big pot of tomatoes, onions and okra stew, not to mention a New Orleans seafood gumbo!

Young immature fruits are an important vegetable, consumed cooked or fried. In West Africa they are usually boiled in water to make slimy soups and sauces. The fruits can be conserved by drying, whole or sliced, or by pickling. Before selling, the dried product is usually ground to powder. Young leaves are commonly used as spinach. The leaves are sometimes used as cattle feed.

Other Uses

Okra mucilage is suitable for medicinal and industrial applications. It has been used as a plasma replacement or blood volume expander. Leaves are sometimes used as a basis for poultices, as an emollient, sudorific or antiscorbutic and to treat dysuria. Okra mucilage has been added as size to glaze paper and is used in confectionery. The bark fibre has been locally used for fishlines and game traps. It is suitable for spinnning into rope and for paper and cardboard manufacture. Roasted okra seeds are used in some areas as a substitute for coffee.

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 paper.

Abelmoschus esculentus - Okra - Ajaytao

Abelmoschus esculentus – Okra – Ajaytao

Medicinal Uses

Plants for a future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antispasmodic; Demulcent; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Emollient; Stimulant; Vulnerary.

Antioxidant – In a study looking at the diet of South Asian migrants in Bradford, U.K., the antioxidant properties identified in Abelmoschus esculentus were found to be strong candidates in the treatment of disorders of the central nervous system in preference to synthetic antioxidants which exhibit toxicity. In cases of dysentery, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowels syndrome, and Crohn’s disease.

Anti-inflammatory – In Ayurvedic medicine, the anti-inflammatory properties in the mucilage is effective in the treatment of gastro-intestinal disorders, especially pertaining to the intestinal wall.

Antispasmodic – This quality in the seeds is beneficial to the gastro-intestinal tract

Cordial – This quality in the seeds acts as a tonic and a stimulant to the heart, which is supported by linoleic acid, an important polyunsaturated fatty acids that plays a role in the prevention heart vascular diseases.

Demulcent – This quality of the roots is very active due to the mucilage, which can be used to replace plasma. It is a quality that is also present in the leaves, the skin, and especially in the young pods.

Diuretic – The young pods act as a diuretic and emollient. Releases accumulation of water that leads to swelling/water retention, especially a decoction of the roots

Sudorific – An infusion of the roasted seeds has sudorific properties increasing perspiration to expel toxins and excess water.

Emollient: Soothes and softens the skin, and all mucous membranes.

Decoction of roots and leaves as a tea or for washing.
Decoction of young fruit useful for catarrh, urinary problems.
Syrup from mucilaginous fruit used for sore throat.
Poultice of roots and leaves for wound healing.
Young pods for fevers, difficult urination and diarrhea.
Decoction of roots for headaches, varicose veins, arthritis, fevers.
Decoctions of leaves for abdominal pain.
Leaves also useful as emollient poultice.
Seeds used a coffee substitute. Paste of seeds, mixed with milk, used for pruritic skin lesions.

Leaves and immature fruit have long been used in the East in poultices and applied to relieve pain, moisturise skin, induce sweating, prevent scurvy and treat urinary disorders. In Congo-Brazzaville, a leaf decoction is given for heart pains and to promote delivery during childbirth. Okra root has been used to treat syphilis in Malaya.

The roots are very rich in mucilage, having a strongly demulcent action. They are said by some to be better than marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis). Okra mucilage has been used as a plasma replacement and blood volume expander. To obtain the mucilage, slices of immature pods are placed in water, which is then boiled. The mucilage is an acidic polysaccharide composed of galacturonic acid, rhamnose and glucose and tends to break down when overheated.

Warning

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.

Many people get an itchy (but short-lived) reaction from the little spines on the leaves and stems of okra, and should therefore be careful when working in the okra patch. However, even highly sensitive individuals do not get the reaction from eating okra.

Ajaytao Photography

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Hibiscus rosa-sinensis – Hibiscus – Ajaytao

 

Yellow Hibiscus - Ajaytao

Yellow Hibiscus – Ajaytao

Common name: China Rose, Chinese hibiscus, Ambashthaki, Bissap, Gongura, Groseille de Guinée, Guinea Sorrel, Hibisco, Hibiscus Calyx, Hibiscus sabdariffa, Jamaica Sorrel, Karkadé, Oseille de Guinée, Oseille Rouge, Pulicha Keerai, Red Sorrel, Red Tea, Rosa de Jamaica, Roselle, So

Hindi: Gurhal गुढ़ल, Manipuri: জুবা কুসুম Juba kusum
Marathi: Jaswand जासवंद,Konkani: Dosni Phool दोस्णि फुल

Botanical name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
Family: Malvaceae (mallow family)
Tribe: Hibisceae
Genus: Hibiscus
Species: H. rosa-sinensis

Hibiscus are large shrubs or small trees that produce huge, colorful, trumpet-shaped flowers over a long season. Hibiscus are deciduous shrubs with dark green leaves; the plants can grow to 15 feet tall in frost-free areas. Flowers may be up to 6 inches diameter, with colors ranging from yellow to peach to red. Hibiscus can be planted singly or grown as a hedge plant; they can also be pruned into a single-stemmed small tree.

The genus includes both annual and perennial herbaceous plants, as well as woody shrubs and small trees. The generic name is derived from the Greek word (hibískos), which was the name Pedanius Dioscorides gave to Althaea officinalis.

Hibiscus is a genus of flowering plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae. It is quite large, containing several hundred species that are native to warm-temperate, subtropical and tropical regions throughout the world. Hibiscus flower has almost 232 species species, all its varieties and forms, grows in full sun and produces large, funnel-shaped flowers with soft petals and attractive large stamens. The flowers come in a range of colors, some with veins of different colors toward the center. If your climate doesn’t allow you to grow hibiscus outdoors, you can still enjoy them in large containers that spend summers outdoors and winters indoors.

Yellow Hibiscus - Ajaytao

Orange Hibiscus – Ajaytao

Nobody knows whether the hibiscus really is a native of China as its latin name, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, (rosa-sinensis = Chinese Rose) suggests or not. Many believe, it comes from India. The leaves are alternate, ovate to lanceolate, often with a toothed or lobed margin. The flowers are large, conspicuous with five or more petals, color from white to pink, red, orange, purple or yellow, and from 4–18 cm broad.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is one of many plant species with a genetic characteristic known as polyploidy, in which there are more than two complete sets of chromosomes, unlike most other species. A side effect of polyploidy is a condition where the phenotype of the offspring may be quite different from the parent, or indeed any ancestor, essentially allowing possibly random expression of all (or any) of the characteristics of all the generations that have gone before. Because of this characteristic, H. rosa-sinensis has become popular with hobbyists who cross and recross varieties, creating new named varieties and holding competitions to exhibit and judge the many resulting new seedlings and often strikingly unique flowers. To add to the genetic opportunities, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis has been successfully hybridized with the cold-resistant Hibiscus moscheutos and several other North American hibiscus species, producing cold-hardy hybrids.

Flower color in certain species, such as H. mutabilis and H. tiliaceus, changes with age. The fruit is a dry five-lobed capsule, containing several seeds in each lobe, which are released when the capsule dehisces (splits open) at maturity. It is of red and white colours. It is an example of complete flowers. This plant has a coarse texture and may be upright or broad and spreading. It is often many-stemmed. Flowers are glorious and huge at their best — up to 6″ in diameter — and occur in many colors. Most are flared and have a bell shape and may be single or double, smooth or scalloped. They have a long central tube with stamens and pistils at the tip.

Hibiscus has some of the largest flowers of any plant. Rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) produces the largest flowers of all hibiscus from late spring until the first frost, with some reaching 1 foot across. Flowers on the Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) come in single or double forms and can be 4 to 8 inches wide. Rose mallow thrives in USDA plant hardiness zones 5b through 11 and Chinese hibiscus in USDA zones 8a through 11.

White Hibiscus - Ajaytao

White Hibiscus – Ajaytao

Plant in spring, summer, or fall, spacing plants 3 to 6 feet apart. Dig a hole only as deep as the root ball and 2 to 3 times as wide. If your soil is in very poor condition, amend the soil you’ve removed from the hole with a small amount of compost. Otherwise don’t amend it at all. Carefully remove the plant from the container and set it in the hole. Fill the hole half full with soil, then water it well to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Let the water drain, then fill the remainder of hole with soil and water thoroughly.

Hibiscus require at least one inch of rain (or equivalent watering) each week. They like to be constantly moist, but not wet. Feed twice a month during the growing season and prune as necessary to control plant size and cut back errant branches. Cut branches back to just above a side shoot. Hibiscus are sensitive to cold and should be protected when temperatures dip into the 30s; container-grown plants should be brought indoors. Check plants periodically for pests such as aphids, white flies, and mealybugs. Use a horticultural oil or insecticidal soap to control these pests.

National flower: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis has been cultivated for centuries in tropical Asia and is honored as the national flower of Malaysia. It grows up to 30 feet tall in warm tropical climates like Hawaii, but up to 15 feet tall in the U.S. mainland. This tropical hibiscus features single or double flowers in a full range of colors.

Two hibiscus are native to Hawaii, but only one has been named the official state flower: Hibiscus brackenridgei. This hibiscus grows as either a shrub or a tree and produces pure yellow flowers with red veining near the center and a prominent yellow stamen. It grows to 15 feet tall and 8 feet wide in USDA plant hardiness zones 10a through 11.

Resembling a bouquet of hollyhocks, rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) grows as a deciduous shrub up to 12 feet tall and 6 feet wide in USDA plant hardiness zones 5b through 11 and can also be trained into a single trunk with a treelike top or as an espalier. An evergreen tree hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus) is native to tropical Asia and Polynesia. It grows 30 feet tall and wide in USDA zones 10b and 11 with 4-inch flowers that open yellow in the morning and deepen to orange by the end of each day.

Pink Hibiscus - Ajaytao

Pink Hibiscus – Ajaytao

Beverage: The tea made of hibiscus flowers is known by many names in many countries around the world and is served both hot and cold. The beverage is well known for its color, tanginess and flavor.

It is known as bissap in West Africa, karkadé in Egypt and Sudan, agua de jamaica in Mexico and Honduras (the flower being flor de jamaica) and gudhal (गुड़हल) in India. In Jamaica, Trinidad and many other islands in the Caribbean, the drink is known as sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa; not to be confused with Rumex acetosa, a species sharing the common name sorrel). Roselle is typically boiled in an enamel-coated large stock pot as most West Indians believe the metal from aluminum, steel or copper pots will destroy the natural minerals and vitamins.

In Cambodia, a cold beverage can be prepared by first steeping the petals in hot water until the colors are leached from the petals, then adding lime juice (which turns the beverage from dark brown/red to a bright red), sweeteners (sugar/honey) and finally cold water/ice cubes. In Egypt and the Middle east, hibiscus tea is known by the name “KarKadeh and is served as both a hot and a cold drink.

Food: Dried hibiscus is edible, and is often a delicacy in Mexico. It can also be candied and used as a garnish.The roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is used as a vegetable. Certain species of hibiscus are also beginning to be used more widely as a natural source of food coloring (E163), and replacement of Red #3 / E127. Hibiscus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidopteran species, including Chionodes hibiscella, Hypercompe hambletoni, the nutmeg moth, and the turnip moth. In foods and beverages, hibiscus is used as a flavoring. It is also used to improve the odor, flavor, or appearance of tea mixtures.

Symbolism and culture: Hibiscus species represent nations: Hibiscus syriacus is the national flower of South Korea, and Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is the national flower of Malaysia. The hibiscus is the national flower of the Republic of Haiti. The red hibiscus is the flower of the Hindu goddess Kali, and appears frequently in depictions of her in the art of Bengal, India, often with the goddess and the flower merging in form. The hibiscus is used as an offering to goddess Kali and Lord Ganesha in Hindu worship.

In the Philippines, the gumamela (local name for hibiscus) is used by children as part of a bubble-making pastime. The flowers and leaves are crushed until the sticky juices come out. Hollow papaya stalks are then dipped into this and used as straws for blowing bubbles.

The hibiscus flower is traditionally worn by Tahitian and Hawaiian girls. If the flower is worn behind the left ear, the woman is married or in a relationship. If the flower is worn on the right, she is single or openly available for a relationship.

Orange Hibiscus Bud - Ajaytao

Orange Hibiscus Bud – Ajaytao

Hibiscus Flower Facts:

Over 200 species of Hibiscus Flowers
Hibiscus Flowers have a tart citrus taste
Hibiscus Flowers make great tea
Hibiscus Flowers last about one day
Hibiscus Flowers do not require water

The Pharoahs drank hibiscus flower tea
Hibiscus tea is popular in cocktails in the Caribbean
Hibiscus Flowers attracts hummingbirds, butterflies

Medicine uses

High cholesterol. An early study shows that taking 1 gram daily of a specific extract of hibiscus leaves (Green Chem, Bangalore, India) does not seem to improve cholesterol levels.

High blood pressure. Some research shows that people with mild high blood pressure who drink a specific hibiscus tea (Celestial Seasonings) 3 times daily have lower blood pressure. This research is promising, but too preliminary to rely on hibiscus tea for treating high blood pressure.

Hibiscus seems to be safe for most people, but the possible side effects of hibiscus are not known. It is used for the treatment of Liver diseases, Cancer,(Numerous in vitro experiments have evaluated the effects of hibiscus flower or anthocyanin extracts against various cancer cell lines. Proposed mechanisms of action focus on antioxidant activity and the ability to induce apoptosis), Loss of appetite, Colds, Constipation, Irritated stomach, Fluid retention, Heart disease, Nerve disease. Hibiscus is used for treating upper respiratory tract pain and swelling (inflammation), and disorders of circulation; for dissolving phlegm; as a gentle laxative; and as a diuretic to increase urine output.

The tender leaves are emollient (soothing the mucus lining), diuretic (treating fluid retention), refrigerant (cooling especially if you feel the heat on hot days) also have a sedative calming effect on the whole system. The fruits are anti-scorbutic, meaning they are high in vitamin C, rosehip tea.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis has a number of medical uses in Chinese herbology. Lokapure s.g.et al. their research indicates some potential in cosmetic skin care; for example, an extract from the flowers of Hibiscus rosa- sinensis has been shown to function as an anti-solar agent by absorbing ultraviolet radiation.

In the Indian traditional system of medicine, Ayurveda, hibiscus, especially white hibiscus and red hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), is considered to have medicinal properties. The roots are used to make various concoctions believed to cure ailments such as cough, hair loss or hair greying. As a hair treatment, the flowers are boiled in oil along with other spices to make a medicated hair oil. The leaves and flowers are ground into a fine paste with a little water, and the resulting lathery paste is used as a shampoo plus conditioner.

Hibiscus tea also contains bioflavenoids, which are believed to help prevent an increase in LDL cholesterol, which can increase the build up of plaque in the arteries.

Chinese Hibiscus - Ajaytao

Chinese Hibiscus – Ajaytao

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Hibiscus is UNSAFE to take during pregnancy. There is some evidence that hibiscus might start menstruation, and this could cause a miscarriage. Not enough is known about the safety of taking hibiscus during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side, and avoid use.

Before adding hibiscus tea to your diet, consult your doctor about any preexisting health condition you may have. According to the Bastyr Center for Natural Health at the University of Pennsylvania, hibiscus tea may open and expand your blood vessels, which may increase your risk for heart disease. Drinking hibiscus tea daily may drop your systolic blood pressure by 7.2 points on average. Avoid drinking hibiscus tea if you are taking medication for hypertension and low blood pressure.

Hibiscus can interact with some medications. It has anticancer effects when taken with other anticancer agents and an additive effect when taken with antiviral agents. It decreases antimalarial efficacy of drugs such as chloroquine and quinine and alters some inflammatory agents processed by your body such as acetaminophen. If you are taking anti-inflammatory drugs, wait for at least two hours to consume hibiscus tea to avoid adverse side effects.

A sense of feeling intoxicated and hallucination are common side effects of hibiscus tea. The tea has can impair your focus and concentration. When engaging in activities that demand full alertness such as operating machinery or driving, avoid drinking hibiscus tea.

Dosage: The appropriate dose of hibiscus depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for hibiscus.

Ajaytao Photography