Bael is a large tree that grows up to 8 to 10 meters in height. It has a big stout trunk, unusual branches with long, straight outgrowth, aromatic leaves, sweet scented and green-white flowers. The fruit is woody and smooth, 5 to 15 cm in diameter. It has numerous seeds which are densely covered with fibrous hair and are embedded in a thick aromatic pulp. The flesh is eaten fresh or dried.
The bael fruit consists of moisture 61.5 percent, protein 1.8 percent, fat 0.3 percent, minerals 1.7 percent, fiber 2.9 percent and carbohydrates 31.8 percent per 100 grams of edible portion. Its mineral and vitamin contents include calcium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin and vitamin C.
Botanical Name- Aegle marmelos
Indian Name- Bel or Siriphal
Below are some of the medicinal properties of bael fruit:
- Ripe bael fruit is regarded as the best natural laxative. It cleans and tones up the intestines. Its regular use for 2 or 3 months throws out even the old accumulated faecal matter. For best results, it should be taken in the form of sherbet, which is prepared from the pulp of the ripe fruit. After breaking the shell, the seeds are removed, with the contents spooned out and sieved. Milk and sugar are added to make it more palatable. The pulp of the ripe fruit can also be taken without the addition of milk or sugar. About 70 grams of the fruit will suffice for an adult.
- The unripe or half-ripe fruit is very effective in treating 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 powdered and preserved in airtight bottles. The unripe bael can also be baked and used with jaggery or brown sugar.
- The root of this tree is used as a remedy for curing ear problems. A stiff piece of the root is dipped in neem oil and lighted. The oil that drips from the burning end is a highly effective medicine for ear problems. The antiseptic properties of neem combined with the astringent extract of bael root helps in curing infection, chronic inflammation and discharge.
- An infusion of bael leaves is regarded as a valuable remedy for peptic ulcer. The leaves are soaked overnight in water. This water is strained and taken in the morning. The pain and discomfort are relieved when this treatment is continued for a few weeks. Bael leaves are rich in tannin which reduces inflammation and help in the healing of ulcer. Bael fruit taken in form of a beverage also has great healing properties on account of is mucilage content. This forms a coating on the stomach mucosa and this helps heal ulcers.
- Medicated oil prepared from bael leave gives relief from recurrent colds and respiratory affections. The juice extracted from bael leaves is mixed with equal quantity of gingelly or sesame oil and heated thoroughly. A few seeds of black pepper and half a teaspoon of black cumin are added to the heated oil. It is then removed from the fire and stored for use when necessary. A teaspoon of this oil should be massaged into the scalp before a head bath. Its regular use builds up resistance to colds and coughs.
The ripe fruit should not be taken regularly at a stretch. When used without a break, it produced atony of the intestines or lack of normal elasticity and consequent flatulence in the abdomen. The bael fruit should also not be taken in excess at a time, as excessive intake may produce a sensation of heaviness in the stomach.