MEDICINAL BENEFITS OF ELEPHANT APPLE OR BAEL
June 18 - 24, 2012
Bael is a medium-sized, thin, aromatic, gum-bearing tree growing up to 18 meters tall. It is found in dry forests on hills and plains of northern, central and southern India, southern Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand.
It has found fame in India for being able to grow in places that other trees cannot. It is tolerant of waterlogging and has an outstandingly wide temperature tolerance (from -7∞C to 48∞C). It usually requires a dry season to give fruit.
Mention of bael tree has been found in writings dating back to 800 BC. It is cultivated throughout India, mainly in temple gardens, because of its status as a sacred tree. It is also seen in and around northern Malaya, the drier areas of Java, and to a restricted extent on northern Luzon in the Philippine Islands where it first bore fruit in 1914. It is grown in some Egyptian gardens, and in Surinam and Trinidad.
The fruit is eaten fresh or dried. The fruit is also used in religious rituals. In Hinduism, the tree is sacred. It is used in the worship of Shiva, who is said to favor the leaves.
It has other names like wood apple, elephant apple and monkey fruit. This fruit is called elephant apple because it is the favorite of elephants. It gets the name wood apple because of its hard wooden shell.
The bael tree is one of the most useful medicinal plants of India. Its medicinal properties have been described in the ancient medical treatise in Sanskrit, Charaka Samhita. All the parts of this tree including stem, bark, root, leaves and fruit at all stages of maturity have medicinal virtues and have been used as traditional medicine for a long time.
The health benefits of bael fruit or wood apple include constipation, indigestion, peptic ulcer, piles, respiratory problems, diarrhea, and dysentery.
Bael fruit is good for digestion. It helps to destroy worms in the intestine. Bael juice is a good remedy for digestive disorders. It is also recommended as a remedy for chronic dysentery.
Bael fruit is recommended for people with peptic ulcer or piles. Bael leaves contain tannin, which reduces inflammation. The laxative property of wood apple helps to avoid constipation.
Deficiency of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) causes scurvy. Since Bael fruit is rich in vitamin C, it is antiscorbic.
The 'Feronia gum', contained in the trunk and branches of the tree, counteracts diabetes by reducing the severity of the condition. Leaves of Bael fruit tree help avoid repeated colds and related respiratory conditions. They also help in curing sore throat. Wood apple is also effective in treating chronic cough.
In Ayurveda treatment, all parts of the wood apple plant are used to cure snakebites. Hundred grams of Bael fruit pulp provides 140 calories and is therefore a good energy booster.
Regular consumption of wood apple is recommended for people with kidney complaints. The root of the bael tree is used to check different kinds of ear problem.
A good source of beta-carotene, wood apples also cure liver problems. They also contain thiamine and riboflavin. This fruit is an ingredient in cardiac tonic also.
Bael fruits can be consumed as ripe fruits or in juice-form. The ripe bael fruit is sweet and also used for making a tasty drink known as wood apple milk. The ripe fruit is also consumed as custard. The raw bael fruit is sour to taste and is used to make chutney. Leaves of bael tree are used as salad ingredients. Some people also eat the raw leaves.
Like any other food and fruits, we have to take some precautions while consuming the bael fruit. Extravagant consumption of bael fruit causes flatulence in the abdomen. So, people with gastric disturbances should be careful.
The root of the bael tree is used to check different kinds of ear problem. A good source of beta-carotene, wood apples also cure liver problems. They also contain thiamine and riboflavin. This fruit is an ingredient in cardiac tonic also.
In addition to being active against viruses, bael is also effective against fungal infections such as thrush or bowel infections. This was proven by another group of Indian scientists from the Faculty of Science, Banaras Hindu University, and Varanasi, India. These scientists found that the bael fruit extracts were effective at blocking the spreading of the fungi, even in cases of normally resistant infections.
In Thailand, bael fruit tea is an unparallel herbal tea, rarely seen in tea form. A soft taste with no caffeine gives this tea a naturally refreshing sensation, welcome throughout the day and night. Amongst a list of benefits, the highly nutritious bael fruit is best known for its uses to help brain and heart functions.