Bael or Wood Apple (Botanical name- Aegle marmelos) is a very old medicinal plant which also has its religious significance. In the Hindu culture, the leaves are indispensable offerings to the ‘Lord Shiva’, therefore it is found almost all the temple gardens. Though biological name of wood apple is Aegle marmelos but it is also known by the names of- Kaitha, Koovalam, Kothu, golden apple, quince, stone apple etc.
In fact, the wood apple fruit tree is a subtropical species which grows wild in dry forests on hills and plains. Though it is native of India but also spreads over Burma, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ceylon and northern Malaya.
The wood apple (Aegle marmelos) plant is a medium size, slow-growing tree. Its fruit is sweet, aromatic and astringent in nature and takes about 10- 11 months to ripen. Though, the outer part of the fruit is extremely harsh, but the inner part consists of soft pulp and seeds. Bael is a fruit that remains safe for several days even after breaking the tree.
Use of Bael or Wood Apple :
Bael fruit or wood apple is very good for digestive system; It protects the stomach from many digestive disorders, like- diarrhea, ulcers, dysentery, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and others. Therefore include it in your daily diet; you can take it in different ways-
- Wood apple is a summer favorite fruit; its juice is a perfect drink to cool yourself in summers. For making the juice, you can squeeze the pulp of the fruit. Because of its natural sweetness, it doesn’t require additional sugar.
- One can also eat it in ripe form; or you make any dessert with bael fruit.
- Bael fruit pulp is also used to prepare squash, marmalade, jelly, murabba, pickle and other eatables.
- Similarly, toffee is also prepared with its pulp, sugar and skimmed milk.
- Tender leaves of bael fruit can also be included in salad form.
Nutritional value of Bael:
The fruit of the wood apple is full of important nutrients. It is a rich source of tannins and pectins which play an important role mainly in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery. There is a lot of fiber in it. Moreover, beta-carotene, riboflavin, vitamin C, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, protein and iron are also available in bael fruit.
As per Inter. Jour. of Current Microbiology and App. Sciences ((2017) 6(7): 2652-2659), 100 gm of bael fruit contains nutrients as follows – (1)
- Proteins – 1.8 gm
- Carbohydrates – 31.8 gm
- Fats – 0.3 gm
- Moisture – 64.2 gm
- Fiber – 2.2 gm
- Vita. Riboflavin – 1.19 mg
- Niacin – 1.1 mg
- Thiamine – 0.13 mg
- Vitamin A – 55 mg
- Vitamin C – 8 to 60 mg
- Calcium – 85 mg
- Phosphorus – 50 mg
- Potassium – 600 mg
Medicinal Benefits of Bael:
Bael is an amazing plant which is known for its medicinal values because of its bio-chemical substances, such as alkaloids, antioxidants, polysaccharides and essential oils. Almost all the parts of bael are useful to treat various diseases like- piles, peptic ulcer, dysentery, tuberculosis, epilepsy, urinary disorders and many more. Ayurveda has included this into the list of ten important basic herbs, with the help of which variety of Ayurvedic medicines are made to treat various diseases. For example, its leaves are good to control pain and roots are useful to improve digestion. Similarly, flowers of bael are helpful to cure diarrhea. Moreover, the root, leaves and bark are anti-inflammatory in nature and used to cure inflammation too.
In short, bael fruit is one of the best ingredients that can help you out with almost all the health problems that you may face with the normal functioning of your body. And its extract oil is used to cure respiratory problems.
Health Benefits of Bael or Wood Apple:
1. Bael for Gastric Problem:
Gastric ulcers are caused due to imbalance in the acidic level in stomach. Wood apple contains phenolic compounds (anti-oxidants) that help to treat gastric ulcers. Actually, the internal lining is damaged due to the long standing acidity problem in stomach which forms ulcers. Bael fruit juice not only cures these ulcers but also reduces acidity.
2. Bael for Diabetes:
Bael leaves are scientifically proven to have hypoglycemic and antioxidant properties. Extract of its leaves gives strength to the pancreas which keeps the insulin level correct and thus helps in controlling blood sugar level.
Simply, chew 4-5 wood apple leaves every morning on an empty stomach regularly for a long period to control diabetes.
Or extract its juice and consume. To extract leaves juice, grind 8-10 leaves and 4-5 black pepper corn with little water in the blender and consume. For better results, take its leaves with tulsi (basil) leaves.
3. Good for Cholesterol:
Not only fruit but the leaves of wood apple are also good to treat many health problems. Therapeutic value of its leaves helps in lowering blood cholesterol; simply chew 4-5 bael leaves on an empty stomach. Or you can take one spoon juice of fresh wood apple leaves on an empty stomach daily. To extract the juice of leaves, grind some fresh leaves of wood apple and extract the juice with a thin cotton cloth.
4. Bael for Diarrhea and Cholera:
The unripe or half ripe fruit is good to cure even chronic diarrhea. As per a study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2009, unripe bael fruit pulp contains antibacterial properties that may fight against bacterial infection.
To treat diarrhea, one can take pulp of unripe fruit with jaggery. However, it is better to dry green unripe bael fruit in sunlight. For this, chop the unripe fruit of wood apple into slices and keep in direct sunshine. After drying the slices well, grind them to make fine powder and keep into an airtight jar. Now, consume this powder with jaggery to treat diarrhea.
5. Cures Constipation:
Because of its laxative properties, ripe bael fruit is also good to treat constipation. If you are facing constipation usually, consume bael fruit juice regularly for 2-3 months during summers. It helps in cleaning the intestines and removing symptoms of constipation.
Or soak 3 spoonful of pulp of bael fruit with 1 spoon tamarind (Imli) in a cup of for 2 hours. After two hours, mash it with fingertips and sieve; then add some mishri (rock sugar) and consume. Follow this remedy regularly for some time to get complete relief in constipation.
Bael fruit remains available in summers and you can take it regularly with mishri or black salt (as per taste).
6. Bael for Heart Disease:
Bael fruit has been used to prevent and treat heart diseases from the centuries. Results of some studies prove that regular consumption of bael fruit in certain quantity can reduce heart problems to the extent of 50-60%. Therefore, add the fruit in your daily diet to treat heat diseases. You can use its pulp with some clarified butter (ghee). It will work like a heart tonic.
7. Wood Apple for Piles:
Wood apple contains tennin that helps to improve intestinal activity. Unripe fruit of wood apple helps to cure piles and hemorrhoids. Its main component ‘tennin’ makes the bowel movement easy. Therefore, prepare a decoction of bael fruit pulp with some fennel seeds and ginger and consume lukewarm with honey.
8. Protects Liver:
Bael is also good for liver health; it contains beta carotene, thiamine and riboflavin which helps in eliminating the liver problems. The regular consumption of bael fruit helps in removing the unnecessary and harmful toxins from the body and thus clears the way for the liver to perform its functions.
9. Good for Kidney:
Bael has the amazing power to take out the toxic element of the body. Regular use of the bael gives kidney strength and thus helps to overcome the problems of urinary diseases.
10. Wood Apple for Dysentery:
Wood apple fruit is also very helpful in curing acute or chronic dysentery when there is definite sensation to defecate. You can take murabba of bael fruit to cure dysentery.
Or mix dry bael powder and coriander powder (½ spoon each) with 1 tsp of mishri and consume with water twice a day (morning and evening) to cure dysentery; it is effective even in the dysentery where blood comes with stool.
In the same manner, decoction (kadha) of wood apple is also very good to cure dysentery. At first, collect dry bael powder, fennel seeds powder (3 tsp each) and dry ginger powder (2tsp); then add all the three into a glass of water. Boil it into a pan till it becomes half. Now sieve it and drink lukewarm two times in a day.
11. Treats Scurvy :
Scurvy is a disease of deficiency in vitamin C. There is an abundant vitamin C in wood apple that may help to protect against the skin disease Scurvy too.
12. Treats Body Infection:
Due to its antimicrobial, anti viral and anti fungal properties, bael or wood apple is also good to treat various types of infection in the body.
13. Good for Skin:
Bael fruit is very good for skin too; it is also proved scientifically by many researches. You can make its pack with aloe-vera and apply on your face to glow your skin. Simply, mix the extract of wood apple with honey, aloe vera, sandalwood powder and rose water in a bowl and apply on the face for 25-30 minutes. It is believed that the psoralen and carotene in the pulp increases tolerance of sunlight and aids in the maintaining of normal skin color.
Moreover, it is also good to treat Leucoderma or Vitiligo (white spots). With the regular use of bael fruit the white spots became lighten and cured completely.
14. Bael for Hair:
Bael fruit not only benefits the hair but also benefits in treating the scalp problems, as it is rich in various nutrients and vitamins. Mix some of the bael fruit extracts with coconut oil and almond oil and then apply this mixture on your hair and scalp. Massage the mixture for some time and then wash off your hair. Repeat doing the same thing for twice a week for 2 months and see the bael fruit benefits for hair.
15. Controls Fever:
Bel fruit leaves are good to get relief in fever; extract its juice and consume with honey.
It is said that wood apple bark may help to cure malaria too, though there is not much evidence of it.
16. Good for New Mothers :
If you are a new mother, it will be very beneficial for you to drink bael juice. It is helpful in improving mother’s health as well as enhances breast milk production.
17. Bael as Blood Cleanser :
Bael fruit is a good diuretic that works as a blood cleanser. Regular consumption of wood apple juice with some lukewarm water and honey will help to purify the blood.
18. Removes Inflammation :
Bael is anti inflammatory in nature; use its extracts on exposed area to remove inflammation. A hot poultice of the leaves is also effective to treat various inflammations. A study published in International Research Journal of Pharmacy established anti-inflammatory and anti-pyretic activities of the leaves of Aegle marmelos. (2)
Side Effects of Bael or Wood Apple :
Bael or wood apple fruit is beneficial if you take it in limited quantity. Over consumption of wood apple may cause some harm effects too. Therefore, it is better to consult with an expert to know about the adequate quantity. Because its laxative and diuretic properties may cause the lower rate of respiration, depresses heart action and causes sleepiness.
Some of the common side effects of Bael fruit are-
- Over consumption of bael may upset the stomach.
- It can also cause some skin reactions.
- Bael fruit can cause severe liver injury which can even cause death.
- Health And nutrition experts said that the person who are taking high blood pressure medicine, should not take it.
- Similarly, heart patients also consult their doctor before taking bael juice.
- And the person, who are taking thyroid medicine, should also consult their doctor regarding its usage.
- In the same way, it is not advisable to have its juice for constipation patients too.
- The leaves of wood apple can cause abortion and sterility in women.