Botanical Name :: : Aegle marmelos
Indian Name :: Bel and Siriphal
Other English Names :: Stone Apple and Bengal Quince
The bael occupies an important place among the indigenous fruits of India It is a woody and smooth food which is 5 to 15 cm in diameter. It has numerous seeds, which are densely covered with fibrous hairs and are embedded in a thick aromatic pulp The flesh is either eaten fresh or dried.
Origin and Distribution
The bael tree is indigenous to India. The history of this tree has been traced to Vedic period-2000 BC – 800 Be. The mention of bael fruit has been made in Yajur Veda. The tree has great mythological significance, and it abounds in the vicinity of temples. It is held sacred by the Hindus and according to Hindu customs, the leaves of the tree are traditionally used as sacred offering to Lord Shiva, who is believed to live under bael tree.
The bael fruit is grown throughout India as well as in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Burma, Thailand and most of the south east Asian countries.
An analysis of the bael fruit shows it is rich in mineral and vitamin contents. The sherbet made out of this fruit has all the important nutrients and health growing ingredients. It should be thick and syrupy enough to be taken with spoon and it should be thoroughly masticated. If taken hurriedly, it may produce heaviness in the stomach. The bael fruit should also not be taken in excess at a time as excessive intake of bael may produce a sensation of heaviness in the stomach and may cause gastric discomfort.
Minerals and Vitamins
|Moisture – 61.5%||Calcium – 85 mg|
|Protein – 1.8%||Phosphorus – 50 mg|
|Fat – 0.3%||Iron – 0.6 mg|
|Minerals – 1.7%||Vitamin C – 8 mg|
|Carbohydrates – 31.8%||Small amount of Vitamin B Complex|
|Fibre – 2.9%||* Values per 100 gm’s edible portion|
|** International Unit||Calorific Value – 137|
Natural Benefits and Curative Properties
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 has medicinal virtues and has been used as traditional medicine for a long time.
The fruit is of considerable medicinal value when it just begins to ripen The ripe fruit is aromatic, astringent which helps construction of skin, coolant and laxative The unripe or half-ripe fruit is astringent, digestive stomachic which improves appetite and anti scorbutic, i.e. which helps to fight scurvy caused due to vitamin C deficiency.
Ripe bael fruit is regarded as best of all laxatives It cleans and tones up the intestines. Its regular use for two or three months helps evacuate even the old accumulated faecal matter from the bowels. For best results, it should be taken in the form of sherbat, which is prepared from the pulp of the ripe fruit. After breaking the shell, the seeds are first removed, and contents are then taken out with a spoon and passed through a sieve Milk and little sugar may be added to make it more palatable. The pulp of the ripe fruit can also be taken from the spoon without the addition of milk or sugar About 60 gm’s. of the fruit will suffice for an adult.
2. Diarrhea and Dysentery
The unripe or half ripe fruit is perhaps, the most effective food remedy for chronic diarrhea and dysentery where there is no fever. Best results are obtained by the use of dried bael or its powder The bael fruit, when it is still green, is sliced and dried in the sun. The dried bael slices are reduced into powder and preserved in air-tight bottles. The unripe bael can also be baked and taken with jaggery or brown sugar The fruit appears to have little effect in acute dysentery when there is definite sensation to defecate but instead of significant amount of faeces, blood and mucus alone are passed The powdered drug is specially recommended in this condition. Its beneficial effect is, however, most evident when the condition has become sub-acute or chronic After the use of the fruit in these conditions, the blood gradually disappears and the stool assume a more feculent and solid form. The mucus also disappears after continued use for some time It is also a valuable remedy for chronic dysenteric conditions characterized by alternate diarrhea and constipation.
3. Peptic Ulcer
An infusion of bael leaves is regarded as an effective food remedy for peptic ulcer. The leaves are soaked overnight in water. This water is strained and taken as a drink in the morning The pain and discomfort are relieved when this treatment is continued for a few weeks. Bael leaves are rich in tannins which reduce inflammation and help healing of ulcers. The bael fruit taken in the form of beverage has also great eating properties on account of its mucilage, i e sticky or viscous content This substance forms a coating on the stomach mucous and thus helps in the healing of ulcers.
4. Respiratory Affections
A medicated oil prepared from bael leaves gives relief from recurrent colds and respiratory affections. The juice extracted from bael leaves is mixed with equal quantity of sesame oil and heated thoroughly A few seeds of black pepper and half a teaspoonful of black cumin are added to the hot oil It is then removed from the fire and stored for use when necessary. A teaspoonful of this oil should be massaged into the scalp before a head bath Its regular use builds up resistance against colds and coughs.
A common practice in south India is to give the juice of bael leaves to bring relief from wheezing and respiratory spasm. The leaf juice, mixed in warm water with a little pepper, is given as a drink.