Bael / Bilva / Wood Apple is a deciduous shrub or small to medium-sized tree, up to 13 m tall with slender drooping branches and rather shabby crown. All parts of the Bael, especially the fruit and the leaves, have immense healing properties and are used in Ayurvedic medicine.
The bael tree contains furocoumarins, including xanthotoxol and the methyl ester of alloimperatorin, as well as flavonoids, rutin and marmesin; a number of essential oils; and alkaloids allocryptopine, O-isopentenylhalfordinol, O-methylhafordinol.
Different parts of this herb are used for different purposes:
Unripe fruits – Balance Kapha and Vata doshas.
Ripe fruits – Difficult to digest and aggravate all three doshas.
Roots – Improves digestion, prevent vomiting and balance all three doshas.
Leaves – Relieves pain, dyspepsia, gastritis and abdominal colic pain. It also balances all three doshas.
Stem – Good for the heart, effective in rheumatoid arthritis and improves secretion of digestive enzymes.
Flowers – Relieves diarrhea, dysentery, thirst and vomiting.
– Diarrhea and dysentery: Dried fruit pulp and its powder are, generally, used for treating diarrhea.
– Diabetes: Leaf extract and leaf juice of the plant is known for its anti-diabetic activity. It has been researched that approximately 5g of leaf decoction administered orally once daily has potential antidiabetic effects. The methanolic leaf extract of Aegle marmelos have hypoglycemic and antioxidant properties.
– Heart health: Bael leaf extract has proven cardio protective benefits.
– Cancer: Studies have shown the fruit extract to posses antiproliferative activity. The mechanism being inhibition of the proliferation of human tumor cell lines. The aqueous extract of the fruit is a good source of water soluble antioxidants, phenolic compounds and antimutagens.
– Leucoderma: The Psoralen present in the pulp of bael fruit increases tolerance of sunlight which aids in the maintenance of normal skin color. Therefore it is used in the treatment of leucoderma.
– Asthma: The leaf decoction is said to reduce phlegm in cold and alleviate asthma.
– Eye infection: The leaves are an effective treatment for various eye inflammations such as conjunctivitis.
– Fever: The roots and the bark of the tree are used as decoction to treat various forms of fevers. The roots are used in Ayurveda to cure fevers caused by the disorders of vata, kapha and pitta.
– Constipation: The ripened fruit acts as laxative. It promotes peristaltic movements and helps relieve constipation.
– Peptic ulcer: Bael fruit and leaf extract has been used for the treatment of peptic ulcer. The pulp forms a mucilaginous layer on the gastric mucosa and thus prevents interaction of acid with mucosal layer.
– Antioxidant: Bael has a very high phenolic (flavonoid) content which is responsible for the radical scavenging activity in the plant. The free radicals cause oxidative stress that in turn cause disorders ranging from Alzheimers to COPD to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even cancer.
– Anti-inflammatory: The leaf extract of the plant had sufficient anti-inflammatory activity.
– Hepatoprotective: The leaves of Bael have an excellent liver-protective effect.
– Ear Problems: The root has astringent activity and is used as a home remedy for curing ear problems. The astringent extract of the roots of Aegle marmelos combined with the antiseptic properties of neem helps in getting rid of ear infection, chronic inflammation and pus discharge. The juice of leaves processed in oil is also used as ear drops to treat ear infection.
– Epilepsy: The leaves of Aegle marmelos have an impact in treating epilepsy.
– Antibacterial and Antifungal: The oil extracts from the seeds of bael fruit posses antibacterial and antifungal properties.
– Kidney problems: The ground leaves of bael can be used to reduce kidney problems.
– Arthritis and Gout: Raw bael fruit is helpful in the treatment of arithritis and gout. Its pulp mixed with hot mustard oil when applied on swollen joints render relief from pain.
– Coolant and Relaxant: The ripe fruit keeps the body and mind cool.
Cautions: Bael is generally safe for use. However, long term use in high doses may lead to either stomach problems or constipation.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking bael if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Diabetes: Bael might lower blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes and take medications to lower your blood sugar, adding bael might make your blood sugar drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar carefully.
Surgery: There is a concern that bael might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop using bael at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.