Bael: A gut friendly fruit

Introduction

People often calculate good health in the terms of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar levels, hormone levels, etc. But what they forget to acknowledge is the health of their gut. Yeah! “The gut is the gateway to our good health” which means when your gut is healthy then you are healthy as a whole. A healthy gut has a direct impact on mental, emotional and physical levels. As by adding vegetables, fibres, probiotic rich foods and reducing the amount of consumption of junk foods can make your gut healthy. Likewise we have Bael, in our eighteenth episode of the series #SacredIndianHerbs that along with maintaining a healthy digestive system, promotes the maintenance of the right bacteria in the GI tract to stay healthy.

Scientific name: Aegle marmelos
English name: Stone Apple, Bengal quince
Hindi name: Siriphal, bilwa
Common name: Wood apple tree, holy fruit

Bael is a spiritual, religious and medicinal plant indigenous to India of approx 8-10 metres height. It’s every part from root to shoot, i.e. leaves, raw bael fruit, ripened bael fruit, stem, roots, is useful. Bael leaves are compound leaves bearing 3 oval-shaped leaflets. The new leaves are grown in the monsoons while the fruits seems to appear during the winters. Bael fruits are pale green and spherical shaped which is enclosed by a hard shell. Its pulp is sweet and astringent in taste and mucilaginous by nature. The fruit takes about 10 months to ripen. Bael produces greenish-white, individual flowers. Bael treats a number of diseases that are common among the human beings.

Get your gut healthy!

The unripe bael fruit act as intestinal astringent. The fruit is peeled and cut into pieces. It is kept under sunlight to dry and is then crushed into powder form. This powder aids to strengthen the digestion. Thus beneficial for various digestive disorders like diarrhea, constipation, dysentery, amoebic dysentery, etc. The powder can be taken along with yogurt or water. The intake of unripe bael fruit powder is considered as the best home remedy for treating diarrhea. You may consume the powder by mixing it in khichdi (Indian subcontinent made from rice and lentils) along with curd. If consumed for a week then it will also encourage regular peristalsis and absorption of food.

Diabetes and bael

The use of bael leaves is widely associated with the management of diabetes. 2.5g of bael leaves and 2-3 black pepper are crushed together in powder form. Consume the powder two times a day (recommended in the morning and evening). It will be beneficial for maintaining the blood sugar levels and can cure diabetes when in its initial stages.

Bilwa oil for ear diseases

Bael apart from its internal uses, is also indicated for external applications. Bilwadi oil is a herbal oil used in ayurvedic treatment of ear diseases such as hearing difficulties, tinnitus, deafness with advancing age, etc. Bilwa is a sanskrit word derived from bael and hence is the main ingredient of this product. The oil is made by triturating pulp of bael fruit along with some other herbs and is then heated in oil. A ear cotton bud is dipped into the oil and with the help of bud, it is applied in both ears. It acts on nerves by rapidly calming vata dosha. Excess application of oil should be avoided as it can get deposited into the ears and may worsen the condition instead. For effective results, regular application of this oil can be practiced along with your morning daily chores.

Pratimarsha nasya: Bilwa oil is also know as ‘Tridosha Nashak’ pacifying all the three doshas i.e. vata, pitta and kapha. Thus lukewarm oil to suit the temperature of blood could be administered through nose by simply pouring 2-3 drops into each nostril preferably after bathing in the morning or before bedtime at night.

Dashmool

Since ‘dash’ means ten and ‘mool’ means roots, therefore dashmool is a combination of ten roots of certain plants to include 5 shrubs and 5 trees. Though all the constituents are equally important, but the basic ingredient is said to be the roots of bael. The dashmool formulations are available in the market in the form of its arishta, decoction, powder, oil, rasayana or arq. Since the roots of bael tree is referred here for making dashmool formulation, but it is more appropriate to take bark of the tree for saving it from being cut down. In this way we can protect the whole tree and can derive the benefits for a long time.

In ayurveda dashmool arq is highly recommended for recovery of the womb in women who have recently given a birth to a child. Also its anti inflammatory, antioxidant and analgesic properties aids in reducing pain, swelling, inflammation and provides strength to the body. Dashmool oil aids in headache by local application on head and the people bearing dry skin will be benefitted from massaging the body with this oil.

Bael sharbat

Summers bring a refreshing range of fruits along with it ! Bael is another fruit of summers whose drink not only combat the heat but also cures various digestive disorders. Though everyone is not fond of its flavour but who are aware of its nutritional properties, love it wholeheartedly. To make the homemade sharbat, we extract the fleshy part of a fresh ripe bael and add water to it. You can also add sugar/khand and lemon to it to spike up its flavour. This homemade bael sharbat is far way better than the commercially available chemical drinks for summers. People who experiences diarrhea, colitis, or other gut related issues should consume fresh bael regularly. To make it available throughout the year, we can preserve the fruit by drying them.

Religious importance of bael

Planting bael tree around one’s home or temple in Hindu tradition is a holy practice. The leaves and the fruit of the plant are offered to ‘Shiva, the lord of health’ as part of prayers. The leaf is trifoliate which signifies the holy Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. However, some consider it as the three eyes of Lord Shiva. It is believed that offering the leaves to Lord Shiva is considered effective in removing sins of the last three births.

Nevertheless bael fruit is filled with immense health benefits though it does not have much fan following because of its acquired taste. Once you start having it, you will surely appreciate it for complimenting your health in a better way. To cherish the benefits it's our duty to plant them, protect and preserve them !

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Dr. Vinod Pr Upadhyay

B.Sc, BAMS, ND (Naturopathy & Yoga), Phd, FES, FIAES | Ayurvedic Pharmaceutics and Pharmacologist | Ex Principal at Himalaya Ayurvedic Medical College | Former Sr. Lecturer at Govt. Ayu. College, Gurukul Kangri

Haridwar

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