Origin, Distribution and Composition
The bael is a large tree, 8 to 10 meters in height. It has a big stout
trunk, unusual branches with long, straight outgrowth, aromatic leaves,
sweet scented and greenish-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.
Bael tree is held sacred by the Hindus. The history of this tree has been
traced to Vedic period (2000 B.C. - 800 B.C.). The mention of bad fruit
has been made in Yajurveda. The bael tree has great mythological
significance and abounds in the vicinity of temples. The leaves of the
tree are traditionally used as sacred offering to Lord Shiva, the God of
health. Lord Shiva is believed to live under the bad tree. The bael tree
is indigenous to India and is grown throughout the sub-continent as well
as most countries of South-east Asia.
An analysis of the bael fruit shows that it consists of moisture 61.5 per
cent, protein 1.8 per cent, fat 0.3 per cent, minerals 1.7 per cent, fiber
2.9 per cent and carbohydrates 31.8 per cent per 100 grams of edible
portion. Its mineral and vitamin contents include calcium, phosphorus,
iron, carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C. Its calorific
value is 137.
Several chemical constituents have been isolated and identified from
various parts of the bael tree. These include alkaloids, coumarins and
steroids. The leaves contain skimianine, sterol and aegelin. The active
constituent of the fruit is marmorosin, which is identical to imperatorin.
Other coumarins contained in the fruits are altoimperatorin and B
sitosterol. Roots of the tree have been found to contain psoralin,
xanthotoxin, scopoletin and tembamide.
Healing Power 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 parts of this tree—stem, bark,
root, leaves and fruit at all stages of maturity —have medicinal virtues
and have been used as medicine for a long time.
The fruit's medicinal value is very high when it just begins to ripen. The
fruit is aromatic, cooling and laxative. It arrests secretion or bleeding.
The unripe or half-ripe fruit is good for digestion. It is useful in
preventing or curing scurvy. It also strengthens the stomach and promotes
Ripe bael fruit is regarded as best of all laxatives. 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.
Diarrhea and Dysentery
The unripe or half-ripe fruit is perhaps the most effective 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 bad fruit, when it is
still green, is sliced and dried in the sun. The dried bad slices are
powdered and preserved in airtight bottles. The unripe bad can also be
baked and used with jaggery or brown sugar.
An infusion of bael leaves is regarded as an effective 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 ulcers. Bael fruit
taken in the form of a beverage also has great healing properties on
account of its mucilage content. This forms a coating on the stomach
mucosa and thus helps heal ulcers.
The root of this tree is used as a home 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
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 gingerly 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
Precautions: The ripe fruit should not be taken regularly at a
stretch. When used without a break, it produces 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.
The sherbet made of bael must not be very thin. It should be viscous so
that it can be thoroughly chewed. It may produce heaviness in the stomach,
if taken hurriedly.