Until now, researchers have demonstrated that regular intake of okra soup could provide novel ‘cure’ for diabetes, breast and prostate cancers, stomach ulcers and disorders, prolonged labour during childbirth and iodine deficiency. However, okra may not be very good for males who are still producing children especially those that have previously had infertility problems.
But new studies showed that okra could be used to boost energy levels in fatigued individuals, prevent kidney damage especially in diabetics and liver failure and cancer. One of the studies showed that okra protects the kidney and liver from nicotine-induced damage especially in smokers. Commonly called okra or Lady’s fingers in English; the French call it gombo or gumbo and to the Portuguese it is quiabo, quiabeiro or quingombo.
Scientifically known as Abelmoschus esculentus, okra belongs to the plant family malvaceae. In Nigeria it is called ikhiavbo in Edo, etigi in Efik, ikhiabo in Esan, okmi in Gwari, bera or dan dawan betso in Hausa, oro kpoloko in Igala, atike in Ibibio, okwulu or okwuru in Igbo, ihaa in Isoko, dena in Jukun, gebalgo in Kanuri, kpanmi roko in Nupe, ishavbo in Urhobo, ila in Yoruba, among others.
One of the new studies published in the International Journal Of Pharmaceutical Sciences And Research IJPSR demonstrated the protective effects Abelmoschus esculentus pods skin and seeds against nicotine-induced liver, kidney damage in mice.
The researchers from Baghdad College of Medical Sciences, Iraq, concluded: “Abelmoschus esculentus possess effects like normalising cholesterol levels, anti-hyperlipidemic roles, flavonoid compounds that could reduce the risk of obesity, hyperlipidemia, suggesting that the consumption of okra may be of benefit in metabolic diseases, it also owns an antioxidant property that is active in inhibiting free radical reactions and consequently protect the human body against damage by reactive oxygen species, it also owns a protective effect against paracetamol, rifampicin, alcohol and carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatic toxicity, and a protective effect against kidney damage.”
They noted: “Abelmoschus esculentus is one of the oldest urbane crops grown in many countries and widely distributed. Parts used of okra are fruit; leave seed, root wish showed to have numerous medicinal significant uses. On the other hand, cigarette, smokers found to have a high a significant effect on liver kidney and other numerous organs in the body.
“The study aims to explore the possible protective effects of three parts of okra against nicotine-induced damage in many parts of the mice body. Fifty male Swiss albino mice were used throughout the study. After tow-weeks acclimatization period, the mice divided into five groups from the control group, nicotine-treated group, nicotine-okra pods extract -treated group, nicotine-okra skin extract treated group, and nicotine-okra seeds extract -treated group.
“Results showed significant protective effects against nicotine damage effects as cholesterol level decrease in okra skin treatment with a significant difference in comparison with the positive group also okra protective effects on renal function have found that urea and creatinine levels decrease significantly in okra feeding mice. Liver function tests have also been evaluated, and SGPT levels of all okra parts extract have shown significant differences decrease compared to the positive control group…”
Some research found that an alcohol extract of okra leaves could eliminate oxygen free radicals, alleviate renal tubular interstitial diseases, reduce protein urea, and improve renal function. Okra fruit is mainly consumed fresh or cooked and is a major source of many vitamins and minerals also Iron and Iodine and viscous fibre.
Another study published in International Journal of Pharmacy and Biological Sciences confirmed the anticancer activity of Abelmoschus esculentus (flowers) against human liver cancer.The Indian researchers noted: “The present study has been performed experimentally by in vitro method to examine the anti-cancer activity of flowers of Abelmoschus esculentus. The report on to the research reveals a significant anti-cancer activity at different concentrations of the sample solution. The flowers of Abelmoschus esculentus was tested for its anti-cancer activity against liver cancer HePG2 cell line by MTT assay. The CTC 50 value of the sample was 444.22μg/ml against liver cancer HePG2 cell lines. Significant results were observed thereby explaining the use of this plant in the traditional system of medicine.”
Also, another study published in the Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research by the Pharmacotherapy Group, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Benin, Edo State, demonstrated the anticancer activity of okra raw polysaccharides extracts against human liver cancer cells.
One of the new studies published on August 20, 2019 in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules and titled “The anti-nephritic activity of a polysaccharide from okra (Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench) via modulation of AMPK-Sirt1-PGC-1α signaling axis mediated anti-oxidative in type 2 diabetes model mice” found that an eight-week treatment with polysaccharide purified from okra (OP) could significantly decrease the 24-hour urine protein, serum creatinine (Scr), serum urea nitrogen (SUN) and glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) levels, which are regard as the biomarkers of renal injury.
According to the researchers, the results of immunohistochemical analysis and histopathological examination showed that the diabetic-induced microstructural changes and fibrosis in kidney could be alleviated by the administration of OP (400 mg/kg). Diabetic nephropathy (DN) with high morbidity and mortality is one of the most severe diabetes complications and affects nearly one-third of people with diabetes.
The researchers said the experiment was designed to assess the potential therapeutic of OP on DN in high-fat diet-fed and streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic mice. Plant polysaccharides have been explored and demonstrate significant biological activities, which account for their applications in complementary and alternative medicine. Polysaccharide, an important ingredient of Abelmoschus esculentus has been reported to have an excellent hypoglycemic activity and antioxidant activity, however, it is not at all certain whether OP has promoted the elimination of a high glucose impact on the body’s immune response, or whether OP has inhibited the activation of oxidative stress activation pathways.
Another study published in the journal Food and Function demonstrated the anti-fatigue activity of polysaccharide fractions from okra.The Chinese researchers from the School of Food Science and Engineering, Hefei University of Technology, Hefei 230009, Anhui, China, investigated the anti-fatigue activity of polysaccharide fractions from Abelmoschus esculentus (AE) in mice.
They noted: “After crude polysaccharide (CAEP) was extracted from AE and purified by DEAE cellulose-52 column, two polysaccharide fractions (AEP-1 and AEP-2) were obtained. The structural analysis suggested that AEP-1 and AEP-2 were a RG-I polysaccharide and an AG-II polysaccharide, respectively. According to the results of the weight-loaded swimming test, compared with the negative control group, the CAEP, AEP-1 and AEP-2 treatment groups could prolong the swimming time, decrease serum urea nitrogen (SUN) and blood lactic acid (BLA), and increase hepatic glycogen (HG) and muscle glycogen (MG), which indicated that okra polysaccharides have an effective anti-fatigue activity.
“Furthermore, our study exhibited the anti-fatigue mechanism of okra polysaccharide was correlated with retarding the accumulation of creatine kinase (CK) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) in serum, and enhancing succinate dehydrogenase (SDH), adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase) levels. In addition, the anti-fatigue activity of AEP-1 was stronger than that of AEP-2, and significantly better than that of CAEP. Therefore, AEP-1 and AEP-2 may be the main active anti-fatigue functional substances of AE.”Yet another study showed that okra could be used to beat fatigue and boost energy levels. The study published in the journal Nutrients is titled “Antioxidant and Anti-Fatigue Constituents of Okra.”
The Chinese researchers said results proved okra seeds were the anti-fatigue part of okra pods and polyphenols and flavonoids were active constituents.The researchers noted: “… Previous studies have proven that okra pods possess anti-fatigue activity, and the aim of this research is to clarify the anti-fatigue constituents. To achieve this, we divided okra pods (OPD) into seeds (OSD) and skins (OSK), and compared the contents of total polysaccharides, total polyphenols, total flavonoids, isoquercitrin, and quercetin-3-O-gentiobiose and the antioxidant activity in vitro and anti-fatigue activity in vivo between OSD and OSK.
“The contents of total polyphenols and total polysaccharides were 29.5 per cent and 14.8 per cent in OSD and 1.25 per cent and 43.1 per cent in OSK, respectively. Total flavonoids, isoquercitrin and quercetin-3-O-gentiobiose (5.35 per cent, 2.067 per cent and 2.741 per cent, respectively) were only detected in OSD. Antioxidant assays, including 1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) scavenging, ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) and reducing power test, and weight-loaded swimming test showed OSD possessed significant antioxidant and anti-fatigue effects.
“Moreover, biochemical determination revealed that that anti-fatigue activity of OSD is caused by reducing the levels of blood lactic acid (BLA) and urea nitrogen (BUN), enhancing hepatic glycogen storage and promoting antioxidant ability by lowering malondialdehyde (MDA) level and increasing superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-PX) levels…”
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