Hibiscus abelmoschus Linn. (Syn. Abelmoschus moschatus Medic.) is an erect medicinal herb native to India and most commonly known as Latakasturi (Ayurveda), Kattu Kasturi (Siddha), Muskdana, Habb-ul-mushk (Unani) and Ambrette (English). It is a non-toxic plant with edible leaves, flowers and seeds. The flowers and seeds can be eaten raw. Every part of this medicinal plant is used in one or the other way.
Hibiscus abelmoschus is known as Kasturilatika, Latakasturi, Kasturu benda, Kasturi Bhindi, Mushkdana or Musk Okra as it produces musk-scented seeds which are considered to have same properties as that of Musk or Kasturi and also used as substitute of musk. This distinct musk-like odor is mainly due to the presence of a ketone and ambrettelide in the seeds.
In traditional medicine, the seeds are widely used as aphrodisiac and antispasmodic agent. The decoction of seeds is given internally for disorders of the spleen, vomiting and pectoral lesions. The oil extracted from the seeds, known as Musk Seed Oil or Ambrette Seed Oil is economically valuable. It is used in aromatherapy for anxiety, depression, nervousness and stress.
The leaves and roots are used for headaches, rheumatism, varicose veins, fever and gonorrhea. The plant is considered a heart tonic and an excellent snakebite remedy. The seeds are used both internally and externally for snake bite.
Plant Description: Abelmoschus moschatus is a soft, herbaceous trailing plant, 0.5- 2.5 meters high with soft hairy stems and a long slender tap root.
Leaves are polymorphous, ovate-cordate or more usually palmately cut into 3-5 acute lobes, dentate-serrate, hairy on both sides. Petiole is usually longer than leaves, with long deflexed hairs. Stipules are small and subulate.
Flowers are solitary, axillary, large, 3-4 inch, bright yellow, with a purple center. Pedicels are stout, curved, much thickened beneath the flower.
Epicalyx segments are 6 – 10, fulvous-hairy. Calyx is spathaceous, deciduous. Corolla yellow with purple center. Stamens are monadelphous. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.
Seeds are greyish-brown-blackish, kidney-shaped, slightly compressed with shallow depressions on both sides. They are not velvety to touch. They smell musk-like but with no taste.
Fruit is long, lanceolate in form of capsule. Seeds are many, kidney-bean-shaped and musk-scented.
- Native/Origin: India
- Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Seeds, root and leaves
- Plant type / Growth Habit: Tall annual herb
- Duration: annual or perennial
- Distribution: Wastelands, slopes, valleys, stream sides, flat areas, often cultivated for commercial use
- Habitat: Tropical countries. Found throughout the hotter parts of India. Also found in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam
- Propagation: By seeds and cuttings. The germination of seeds takes place around 24 – 24°c.
- Flowering: September
- Ambrette oil: It is extracted from the seeds and used in perfumery, flavoring, cosmetic and Agarbathi industries.
Abelmoschus moschatus Common names / Synonyms
- Scientific Name: Abelmoschus Moschatus Medik.
- Sanskrit: Latakasturika, Latakasturi, Kattaphala, Katuka, Gandhapura, Kasturilatika
- Bengali: Kasture, Kala-Kasturi, Latakasturi
- Deccan: Kasturu- Benda
- English: Ambrette, Musk Mallow, Muskmallow, Ornamental Okra, Musky-Seeded, Hibiscus
- Hindi: Musk Dana
- Gujrati: Bhindo, Bhinda
- Kannada: Kaadukasthuri, Kasthuribende, Kasturi Kande, Kadu Kastuar
- Malayalam: Kaattu Kasturi, Kasturi Venda, Kasturi Kanda
- Marathi: Kasturi-Bhenda, Kasturbhendi
- Punjabi: Mushak Dana, Lata Kasturi
- Tamil: Kattuk-Kasturi, Kasturivendai, Kattukkasturi
- Telugu: Karpura-Benda
- Siddha: Kattu Kasturi
- Unani: Musk-Daanaa, Habb-Ul-Mushk
- Arabic: Hab-Ul-Mishk
- Chinese: Ye You Ma, Shan You Ma, Huang Ku, Huang Kai
- Thai: Chamot Ton, Mahakadaeng,Som Chaba Vietnamese: Cay Bong Vang, Bup Vang)
- Singhalese: Kapu Kimissa, Kapukinissa
The botanical name of Musk Mallow is Abelmoschus moschatus. Abelmoschus is derived from Arabic ‘Abu-l-Mosk’ (father of musk) and moschatus means musk smelling (in Latin). It belongs to plant family Malvaceae.
Malvaceae includes herbs, shrubs, or less often trees. It consists of about 82 genera, 9 subfamilies and more than 1,500 species, distributed more abundantly in warm and temperate regions. There are about 22 genera and 125 species of this family in India. Plants of the family bears flowers which are often showy and beautiful. They mostly have five petals and sepals and a filament. Members of the Malvaceae family are important as many of them are used as vegetable, spices, ornamental plants and as a fiber crops (particularly cotton, Gossypium). They bear beautiful flowers and grown in the gardens.
Most of the plants belonging to this family contain free mucilage, and, generally speaking, have emollient, laxative, anti-bilious, and antiscorbutic properties. Some members yield volatile oils which are stimulant, diaphoretic, and diuretic. The seeds are often oleaginous. Very few species have toxic properties.
Some of the economically important plants belonging to Malvaceae are, The cotton plant (Gossypiurn sp.), Corchorus (Jute), Hibiscus, Okra (A. esculentus), Bombax (Silk cotton tree), Marshmallow (Althaea ojficinalis Linn.) and Sida.
Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.
- Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
- Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
- Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
- Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
- Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
- Subclass: Dilleniidae
- Order: Malvales
- Family: Malvaceae – Mallow family
- Genus: Abelmoschus Medik. – okra
- Species: Abelmoschus moschatus Medic. – musk okra, muskmallow
- Hibiscus abelmoschus L.
- Hibiscus flavescens Cav.
- Hibiscus spathaceus Wall.
- Hibiscus ricinifolius Wall.
- Hibiscus chinensis Wall.
- Abelmoschus moschatus Medik.
- Abelmoschus rugosus W.&.A.
Hibiscus moschatus Non-Medicinal Uses
- Leaves are eaten as vegetable.
- Unripe pods are cooked as a vegetable like okra.
- Stem is used for making fiber.
- Seeds are used to protect woolen garments against moth due to insecticidal properties.
- The seeds are mixed with tea and coffee for flavor.
- The flowers are used for making ‘Zarda’ a flavored tobacco in India.
- Seeds are used as cattle or poultry feed.
- The root mucilage is used for sizing paper.
- The Seed oil is used for perfumery, flavoring, cosmetic and other purpose.
- The stem of plant is used for sugar cleaning.
Constituents of Abelmoschus moschatus
Leaves contain beta-sitosterol and its beta-Dglucoside.
Petals contain beta-sitosterol, flavonoid myricetin and its glucoside. Anthocyanins have been isolated from flowers.
The seeds yield an essential oil which contains farnesol, palmitic acid, furfurol, acetic acid, ambrettol acid and lactose. Gossypetine, an anthocyanin glucoside, hibiscine, a quercetine and a pigment is also present in seeds.
Important Medicinal Properties
Abelmoschus moschatus is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb.
Below is given medicinal properties of seeds along with the meaning.
- Antipyretic/antifebrile/febrifuge: Effective against fever.
- Antihysteric: Controls hysteria (fit of uncontrollable laughter or weeping).
- Antispasmodic: Used to relieve spasm of involuntary muscle.
- Aphrodisiac: stimulates sexual desire.
- Antivenom: Counteracts venom.
- Cooling: Reduces heat in body.
- Carminative: Preventing the formation or causing the expulsion of flatulence.
- Demulcent: Relieving inflammation or irritation.
- Diuretic: Promoting excretion of urine/agent that increases the amount of urine excreted.
- Laxative: Tending to stimulate or facilitate evacuation of the bowels.
- Stomachic: Stimulates gastric activity.
- Nervine: calm the nerves.
- Tonic: Restore or improve health or well-being.
Ayurvedic Properties and Action
The seeds of plant Abelmoschus moschatus is known as Kasturilatika in Ayurveda. It is bitter, sweet and pungent in taste (Rasa), sweet after digestion (Vipaka), and is cool in effect (Virya).
It is a Sheet Virya herb. Sheet Virya or Cool potency herb, subdues Pitta (Bile) and Vata (Wind), gives nourishment and steadiness and supports building of body fluids.
Kasturilatika is a Madhur Vipak herb. Madhur-Vipak digests into sweet. It has building, moistening and nourishing effect on body. It is cooling and reduces swelling. It decreases Pitta and has Anabolic effect on body.
- Rasa (taste on tongue): Madhura (Sweet), Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter)
- Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light)
- Virya (Action): Shita (Cooling)
- Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Madhura (Sweet)
Action / Karma
- Cakshushya: Good for eyes
- Chedan: Discharge from the body adherent phlegm or other humours
- Kaphahara: Pacifies Kapha Dosha
- Vrishya: Increases the quantity of semen
- Vasti Shodhan: cleanses the urinary system
Latakasturi is used in Ayurveda for asthma, bronchitis, weakness of heart, cough, burning sensation, vitiation of Pitta and Kapha, nausea, diarrhea, gonorrhoea, hysteria, neural disorders, itching/pruritus, leukoderma, weakness, loss of libido, Prameha, trishna/excessive thirst, Mukha roga/oral diseases and urogenital problems.
Medicinal Uses of Abelmoschus moschatus
Latakasturi is used in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani system of medicine for treatment of variety of ailments due to cooling, cleansing, diuretic, laxative and antispasmodic properties.
The seeds, fruits, leaves, and roots all are used medicinally. The infusion, decoction or tincture of the seeds has demulcent, stomachic, antispasmodic properties and is found useful for nervous debility and hysteria. Seeds are also useful in fevers, gonorrhea, hoarseness and dryness of the throat. Infusion of flower is contraceptive. The leaves and roots are used for gonorrhea and to treat boils and swellings.
Cramps, intestinal disorders, loss of appetite
The tea or tincture prepared from the seeds is taken orally.
Fruits are eaten to reduce the phlegm.
The decoction prepared from whole plant is useful.
The juice obtained from the fruits is given.
The mucilage prepared from the roots and
Leaves is given orally.
The seeds are rubbed to a paste with milk, and applied.
Nervous debility, spermatorrhoea (Dhatu Roga), urinary disorders, Prameha, flatulence
Soak the chopped fruits in water at night and drink the water and chew the pieces next morning.
Eat as vegetable.
Oral problems (mouth ulcers, ulcers in gum, gum Bleeding, foul smell of mouth, loose teeth)
Chew tender fruits.
Prepare decoction of seeds/leaves and use as gargle.
Sweeten the breath
Chew the seeds.
Urinary problems (blood discharge in urine, scanty urination, protein discharge in urine)
Seed powder dissolved in water is given with Honey at night after meal.
Worms, gastro-intestinal disorders
Extract of seeds in given.
Dosage of Abelmoschus moschatus
- The recommended dose of seed powder is 2-4 grams.
- The tincture is given in dose of 3-6 ml.
- Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings
- Hazards and/or side effects not known for proper therapeutic dosages.
- Excess dose may cause giddiness, headache etc.
- The seeds are constipating.
- The seeds are cooling. Excess use may cause low appetite and indigestion.