Scientific Name(s): Abelmoschus moschatus Medik.
Common Name(s): Ambrette, Gumbo musque, Musk mallow, Musk okra
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Dec 25, 2019.
The plant, especially the seeds, has been used traditionally for multiple purposes; however, there is no clinical evidence to support any applications. Animal studies suggest a role for the constituent myricetin in the management of diabetes.
There is no clinical evidence to provide guidance.
Contraindications have not yet been identified.
Avoid use. Documented adverse reactions have occurred with a related species.
None well documented.
Photosensitivity and dermatitis is possible in sensitive individuals, although case reports of contact dermatitis are lacking. Dizziness and headache have been associated with doses greater than 3 drams (2.25 teaspoons) of musk okra seed.
Research reveals little information regarding the toxicity of A. moschatus.
- Malvaceae (mallow)
Musk okra is indigenous to India, southern China, and tropical Asia, and is cultivated throughout the tropics. The evergreen shrub grows to about 1 m and has yellow flowers with crimson or purple centers. The fruit is a green-brown capsule containing many kidney-shaped seeds. The plant is cultivated for these seeds, which have a characteristic musky odor, and are the source of ambrette, an aromatic oil used in perfumery.Leung 2003, Molfetta 2013, USDA 2014 A synonym for musk okra is Hibiscus abelmoschus L.
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. The tender leaves and shoots are eaten as vegetables and used in soups, and the plant is often grown ornamentally.
Decoctions of musk okra have been traditionally used to treat stomach cancer. Extracts of the plant have been used to treat such diverse ailments as hysteria, gonorrhea, and respiratory disorders; they have also been used for antispasmodic, cardiotonic, and aphrodisiac effects.Duke 2003, Gul 2011, Leung 2003, Molfetta 2013
Distillation of the plant yields farnesol and furfural. The volatile seed oil is high in fatty acids, including palmitic, oleic, and myristic acids. Together with tetra-decen-14-olide, the ketone ambrettolide, a lactone of ambrettolic acid, is the main constituent of musk okra seed oil. Ambrettolide is responsible for the plant's characteristic musky odor. A variety of other related compounds, including myricetin, have been identified in smaller quantities. Analytical methods have been described.Cavalheiro 2013, Du 2008, Jarret 2011, Leung 2003, Liu 2005, Molfetta 2013
Uses and Pharmacology
Weak activity against bacterial pathogens, varying according to extraction method, has been demonstrated. Musk okra also exhibits moderate activity against Candida albicans,Gul 2011 and activity against Trichosporon species has been shown in vitro.Uniyal 2013
Antiproliferative activity against colorectal and retinoblastoma cell lines has been demonstrated for musk okra extracts.Gul 2011 Anticlastogenic properties have also been described for farnesol extracted from the seeds.Jahangir 2005
A limited number of researchers have evaluated the potential application of the hexahydroxyflavone myricetin in diabetes. Improved glucose metabolism and decreased insulin resistance in rats have been demonstrated in a dose-dependent manner. The magnitude of these results are similar to that rosiglitazone.Liu 2005, Liu 2006, Liu 2010
There are no clinical data regarding the use of A. moschatus in diabetes.
There is no clinical evidence to support dosage. Tinctures of powdered musk okra seeds in ethanol have been used.Duke 2003
Pregnancy / Lactation
Avoid use. Documented adverse reactions have occurred with benzene extractives from the flowers of the related species Hibiscus rosa-sinensis.Lans 2007 A. moschatus is used as a traditional medicine for infertility and childbirth in the Caribbean.Zietz 2008 Musk xylene has been found in breast milk.Pal 1985
None well documented.
Musk okra ambrette and musk okra ketone, both found in cosmetics and aftershave lotions, have been shown to cause photosensitivity and dermatitis in sensitive individuals, although case reports of contact dermatitis are lacking.Chuah 2013 Dizziness and headache have been associated with doses greater than 3 drams (2.25 teaspoons) of musk okra seed.Duke 2003
Information regarding the toxicity of A. moschatus is limited. Ambrettolide is reported to be nontoxic.Leung 2003
- Hibiscus abelmoschus L.
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