Bael Fruit, Stone Apple Or Aegle Marmelos and Its Health Benefits
Latin Name : Aegle marmelos
Indian Names: Bael, Shreephal, Kaveeth, Bilva, Bilvapatra etc.
Common English Names: Stone apple, Bengal quince, Wood apple, though this also stands for the fruit of the tree, Limonia acidissima.
Bael, Stone Apple Tree Or Aegle marmelosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Bael, Stone Apple Or Aegle marmelos
The Bael tree, Aegle marmelos is native to India and grows throughout Southeast Asia from Nepal to Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Philippines, Fiji, etc.
The bael tree is considered sacred by the Hindus in India and is usually grown in the vicinity of temples. It grows on hills and the plains of dry forests.
The bael tree is a medium-sized tree, growing to a height of 50 to 60 feet. It is a slender, aromatic and gum bearing tree. The branches have spines and the leaves are trifoliate. The leaves act as food for the larvae of 2 Indian butterfly species.
Aegle marmelos can tolerate a fair amount of pH range from 5 to 10, also some waterlogging and grows in a wide range of temperatures from -7 degrees C to 48 degrees C.
Bael FruitClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Bael Fruit
The tree needs a pronounced dry season to produce fruit. A single tree may yield up to 800 fruits though 150-200 fruits is an average.
The bael fruit has a smooth and thick, hard woody shell. The fruit takes about 11 months to ripen on the tree and is the size of a large grapefruit, some even larger can be found.
The shell is so hard it needs to be cracked open with a hammer. The fruit pulp is yellow and fibrous, tastes like marmalade and smells of roses. within the mucilaginous pulp are numerous hairy seeds.
Uses Of Bael Or Stone Apple
The bael fruit can be eaten fresh as well as dried. The juice of the fresh fruit can be strained, sweetened and consumed. The pulp can also be made into a sherbet by adding sugar and lime juice. A single large fruit can yield 5 to 6 litres of sherbet.
Drying of the fruit is done by first slicing the fruit and then exposing these slices to the sun.
The leaves and young shoots are eaten as salad greens. In Ayurveda, the leaves and fruits are used for medicinal purposes.
The fruit pulp also has a detergent action and has been used for washing clothes in earlier times. The fruit has been employed to eliminate the scum in vinegar making.
The gum that envelopes the seeds is used as a household glue and also used as an adhesive by jewellers. It is also mixed with lime for waterproofing wells and when mixed with cement it is used to waterproof walls. The gum can also be applied as a protective covering on paintings.
From the seeds, a bitter pale yellow oil is extracted and used as a purgative.
The wood of the stone apple tree is used to make tool and knife handles, pestles, combs and carvings. The wood is not durable.
Charaka Samhita, one of the earliest Ayurvedic medical treatise written in Sanskrit mentions the medicinal properties of bael.
Bel Ka Sharbat - Bael Squash Recipe
Bael Tree In Hindu Religion
The bael tree is considered sacred by the Hindus as it is believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva. The fruit also is used in religious rituals.
In the Newari culture of Nepal, the bael tree forms a part of the fertility ritual for girls cal bel beha, in which girls are married to the bael fruit and as long as the fruit is kept safe and doesn't crack the girl is not considered a widow even if her husband is dead.
Nutrition In Bael Fruit
100 grams of Bael fruit contains
Medicinal Uses Of Bael
- Bael oil has been found to be effective against 21 species of bacteria.
- The leaves are used in treating dyspepsia and sinusitis.
- A confection made of the fruit is used to treat tuberculosis and loss of appetite.
- It also treats constipation and other gastrointestinal problems.
- The unripe fruit is useful in relieving infestations of intestinal worms and rotavirus. It also inhibits the adherence of bacteria to the gut wall and thus prevents damage and infection.
- The bitter and pungent leaf juice mixed with honey allays fever and catarrh. Add black pepper to it to alleviate jaundice.
- A decoction of the flowers is given as an antiemetic.
- The root decoction relieves palpitations of the heart, indigestion, bowel inflammations and vomiting.
Medicinal Properties Of Bael
Bael has an antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-ulcer, anti-diabetic, anti-diarrheal, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, analgesic, antimalarial, anticancer, hepatoprotective, antimicrobial, cytoprotective, insecticidal, anti-arthritic activity.
The ancient Indian medical texts written in Sanskrit mention the uses of all parts of bael or the stone apple tree, like the stem, roots, bark, leaves and fruit.
The plant and its various parts have been used at all stages of maturity for medicinal purposes, however, its peak medicinal effect is just before the fruit begins to ripen.
The fruit is cooling, acts as a laxative, stops secretions and bleeding.
The extracts of leaves have been found to lower blood glucose levels by over 50% as per studies. It, therefore, is helpful in controlling diabetes.
The leaf extracts also lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
The leaves, fruits and roots have antimicrobial properties due to the biochemicals cumin aldehyde and eugenol.
To Make Bel Squash
- Take ripe bael fruits. Remove pulp.
- To 1 kilogram of pulp add 6 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 litre of water.
- Boil this mixture and keep stirring as you boil.
- Cool and strain it through a coarse strainer. Keep the bael juice aside.
- Now, take 1 kilogram of sugar for 1 kilogram of bael fruit pulp and boil in 500 ml of water for 15 minutes. cool this sugar solution.
- To this cool sugar, add solution 1/4 tsp potassium metabisulphite and mix well.
- Add the strained bael juice to the above sugar solution mixture.
- Mix well, fill in bottles and seal.
- Your bael squash is ready.
Some Home Remedies With Bael
- Ear Problems
Dip a stiff piece of dry bael root in neem oil and light it. The oil that now drips from the burning end is an effective cure for infection, inflammation and discharge from the ear.
- Respiratory Problems
Equal quantities of the juice of bael leaves and gingelly or sesame oil and are mixed and heated. A few whole black peppercorns and 1/2 tsp of black cumin are added to the oil then removed from heat, allowed to cool down completely and then stored in an airtight bottle.
Massage a tsp of this oil into the scalp. Keep for 30 minutes and then take a head bath. Use regularly to build resistance to colds and coughs.
Eat ripe bael fruit for a couple of months to relieve even chronic constipation. Make bael sherbet by removing the pulp, mixing it with water, the staining it and adding sugar and milk before drinking it. This also cures constipation.
- Diarrhoea & Dysentery
Dry unripe bael fruit by slicing and drying in the sun. Powder it and preserve it in an airtight bottle. Use to control diarrhoea and dysentery. It can be eaten mixed with jaggery or brown sugar.
- Peptic Ulcer
Soak bael leaves overnight in water. Strain out the water in the morning and drink. The water contains tannins that reduce inflammation and heals ulcers.
Grind 5 grams of bael leaves. Mix in 1 tsp honey. Take 2 times a day.
Remove pulp from the bael fruit. Dry and powder it. Add 1 tsp of this to a glass of boiled cow milk. Add sugar to taste. Take twice a day for some time.
Extract pulp of raw bael fruit. Dry and grind it to a powder. Mix 2 tsp of this powder with 50 grams of pure ghee and 1/4 tsp of haldi. Take this with a glass of warm water. 2 times daily.
- Healing wounds
Take equal quantities of root, leaves, rind and fruit pulp of bael. Grind all of these and extract the juice.
Add 2 tsp of honey and drink.
- Swollen Joints
Take the pulp of a few bael fruits. Mix with hot mustard oil and massage on the affected area 2 times daily for relief.
- High Blood Pressure
Consume bael leaves daily morning or take the juice of bael leaves mixed with honey daily.
Remove juice of 100 soft bael leaves. Mix in 10 powdered black peppercorns. Take this every morning and evening. Also, consume 5 glasses of sugarcane juice daily after meals.
- Nausea & Vomiting Of Pregnancy
Take 1 tsp of raw fruit pulp 2 times a day. Mix mishri or candy sugar to this for improving the taste.
Grind 200 bael leaves. Boil in 1 cup of water.till the water becomes thick. Eat this paste with honey 2 to 3 times a day.
Some Points to Note
- Do not consume bael fruit for days at a stretch. It may cause flatulence. Also, do not eat in excess as it may promote heaviness and bloating.
- Bel sherbet has to be thick so that it includes as much of the pulp as it can for best results.
- Bakhru, Foods That Heal, pp 32, Orient Paperbacks, New Delhi, India.
- McIntyre, Herbal Treatment of Children: Western And Ayurvedic Perspectives, pp 90, Elsevier Limited, UK.
- The Indian Ayurvedic Pharmacopaeia, Part 1, Vol 1, pp 35,
- Maity, Hansda, Bandyopadhyay, Mishra, 2009, Biological activities of crude extracts and chemical constituents of Bael, Aegle marmelos (L.) Corr, Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol 47, pp 849-861.
- Sabu M. C, Kuttan R, 2004, Antidiabetic Activity Of Aegle Marmelos And Its Relationship With Its Antioxidant Properties, Indian J Physiol Pharmacol, 48 (1): 81–88.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly