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Ambrette

Scientific Name(s): Abelmoschus moschatus L. (Medic.)
Common Name(s): Ambrette, Musk ambrette, Musk okra, Muskdana, Muskmallow

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Sep 16, 2019.

Clinical Overview

Use

Ambrette has been used as a stimulant and as treatment for a variety of ills, from stomach cancer to hysteria. It is commonly used to scent cosmetics and to flavor foods and drinks. Traditionally, it has been used for treating headaches, cramps, muscular aches and pains, nervous system disorders including depression, and bacterial pathologies.

Dosing

There is no clinical evidence to support dosage of ambrette.

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Documented adverse effects. Avoid use.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Ingestion or application of ambrette derivatives produces photosensitivity and dermatitis in some individuals.

Toxicology

With the possible exception of seed extracts, ingestion of small amounts is considered safe.

Scientific Family

  • Malvaceae

Botany

This plant is cultivated for its seeds, which have a characteristic musk-like odor. The seeds are the source of ambrette, an aromatic oil used in perfumery. The plant grows to about 3 feet with showy yellow flowers with crimson centers. The plant is indigenous to India and is cultivated throughout the tropics.Leung 1980

History

Several parts of the plant have been used throughout history, most notably the seed oil, which is valued for its fragrant smell. The oil is used in cosmetics and has been used to flavor alcoholic beverages, especially bitters, and coffee.Duke 1985 The tender leaves and shoots are eaten as vegetables and the plant is often grown as an ornamental.

Philippine native have used decoctions of the plant to treat stomach cancer, and extracts of the plant have bene used to treat such diverse ailments as hysteria, gonorrhea and respiratory disorders.Duke 1985 The seeds are used for treating headaches, cramps, muscular aches and pains, and nervous system disorders including depression. Alcoholic and aqueous extracts of the leaves and seeds have been used to treat a variety of bacterial infections.Arokiyaraj 2015

Decoctions of the plant have been sued to treat stomach cancer, and extracts of the plant have bene used to treat such diverse ailments as hysteria, gonorrhoea, menstrual and respiratory disorders.Duke 1985, Lans 2007 lans

Chemistry

Distillation of the plant yields farnesol and furfural. The volatile oil is high in fatty acids, including palmitic and myristic acids. The ketone ambrettolide (a lactone of ambrettolic acid) is responsible for the characteristic musk-like odor. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry revealed 35 compounds in the oil with farnesol acetate (51.45%) and ambrettolide (12.96%) being the major components.Arokiyaraj 2015 A variety of other related compounds have also been identified, most of which were present in quantities of less than 1%.Arokiyaraj 2015, Leung 1980

The bark yields a fiber that is used to produce tough cloths.Duke 1985

Uses and Pharmacology

Ambrette has been used as a stimulant and as treatment for a variety of ills, from stomach cancer to hysteria. It is commonly used to scent cosmetics and to flavor foods and drinks. Traditionally, it has been used to treat bacterial infections, headaches, cramps, muscular aches and pains, depression and other nervous complaints.Arokiyaraj 2015 Little is known about the pharmacologic activity of this plant.

Antibacterial

Antibacterial assays of ambrette seed oil against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria support earlier studies by finding satisfactory inhibition on Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, and Enterococcus faecalis with less activity against Pseudomonas aeuroginosa. Farnesol acetate and ambrettolide were observed to have sufficient binding energy towards a beta-lactamase and dihydrofolate reductase proteins.Arokiyaraj 2015

Other uses

Animal data

The related species A. manihot has been shown to limit the development of renal injury in rabbits with immune complex-induced glomerulonephritis, and A. ficulneus may contain substances that inhibit the development of the fetal sheep brain and that may impair the health of the ewe.Walker 1992

Antioxidant and radical scavenging properties have been described. Limited antimicrobial activity has been demonstrated.Gul 2011

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of Abelmoschus moschatus (ambrette).

Dosing

There is no clinical evidence to support dosage of ambrette.

Pregnancy / Lactation

Information is limited. Ambrette is used traditionally for menstrual disorders. Avoid use.Lans 2007

Related species A. ficulneus may contain substances that inhibit the development of the fetal sheep brain and that may impair the health of the ewe.Walker 1992

Ambrette and related "nitro musks" are highly lipophilic and have been shown to persist in human mother's milk, presumably following absorption through the skin from dermally applied cosmetics.Zietz 2008

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Musk ambrette and musk ketone, both found in cosmetics and aftershaves, have been shown to cause photosensitivity and dermatitis in sensitive individuals.Gardeazábal 1992, Machet 1993 A case of "consort" dermatitis has been documented in which a woman had recurring facial dermatitis that resulted from a reaction to her husband’s English Leather Cologne and the 2% musk ambrette in alcohol.Fisher 1995

Toxicology

Although the seeds were once considered to be stimulants with antispasmodic activity, the plant has been classified as an "Herb of Undefined Safety" by the FDA.Duke 1985 However, the extracts are classified as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) for use in baked goods, candies and alcoholic beverages. Ambrettolide is reported to be nontoxic.Leung 1980

References

Arokiyaraj S, Choi SH, Lee Y, Bharanidharan R, Hairul-Islam VI, Vijayakumar B, Oh YK, Dinesh-Kumar V, Vincent S, Kim KH. Characterization of ambrette seed oil and its mode of action in bacteria. Molecules. 2015;20:384-395.25551188
Duke JA. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1985.
Fisher AA. Consort contact dermatitis due to musk ambrette. Cutis. 1995;55(4):199-200.7796610
Gardeazábal J, Arregui MA, Gil N, Landa N, Ratón JA, Díaz-Pérez JL. Successful treatment of musk ketone-induced chronic actinic dermatitis with cyclosporine and PUVA. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1992;27(5 Pt 2):838-842.1469140
Gul MZ, Bhakshu LM, Ahmad F, et al. Evaluation of Abelmoschus moschatus extracts for antioxidant, free radical scavenging, antimicrobial and antiproliferative activities using in vitro assays. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11:64.21849051
Lans C. Ethnomedicines used in Trinidad and Tobago for reproductive problems. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2007;3:13.17362507
Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics. New York, NY: J Wiley and Sons; 1980.
Machet L, Vaillant L, Bensaid P, Muller C, Lorette G. Persistent photosensitivity: treatment with puvatherapy and prednisolone (corticopuvatherapy) [in French]. Ann Dermatol Venereol. 1992;119(10):737-743.1296473
Walker D, Bird A, Flora T, O'Sullivan B. Some effects of feeding Tribulus terrestris, Ipomoea lonchophylla and the seed of Abelmoschus ficulneus on fetal development and the outcome of pregnancy in sheep. Reprod Fertil Dev. 1992;4(2):135-144.1438942
Zietz BP, Hoopmann M, Funcke M, Suchenwirth R, Gierden E. Long-term biomonitoring of polychlorinated biphenyls and organochlorine pesticides in human milk from mothers living in northern Germany. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2008;211(5-6):624-638.

Disclaimer

This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

Further information

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