Bael – A medicinal treasure
Dr Vikas Sharma
Bael is believed to be a sacred plant which brings wellness and good luck to home. Placing Bael plant in leaving room near a window brings prosperity and stability. Planting these trees around home or temple is sanctifying and is equivalent to worshiping a Linga with Bilva leaves and water. Bael, is one of the medicinally treasured tree species and is also known as begal-quince, golden apple and stone apple in India and a sacred tree in places where Hindus lives. Bael trees are usually planted near temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and routinely worshiped by the devotees. Bael is one of the most appreciated plants used in ayurvedic medicine by the Indian and other South Asian inhabitants in ancient history. According to the historical records, Bael is used as a medicinal and food item since 5000?B.C. and known to human beings even when writing the famous Sanskrit epic-poem Ramayana. Bael mentioned in the renowned book Charaka Samhita, a comprehensive compilation of all the essential ayurvedic information, which identified bael as a necessary item in ayurvedic medicine. It holds much significance in Ayurveda due to its wide range of benefits. The tree is aromatic, and all the parts are medicinally important.
Anti-bacterial and Anti-parasitic: The anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic properties and the presence of tannins in Bael help in fighting against the infection called shigellosis which causes diarrhea and treats cholera. Studies showed that people consuming ripe Bael in the form of juice or just pulp got cured of cholera and diarrhea.
Anti-diabetes: The active constituent ‘Feronia gum’ present in the bark and branches of the Bael tree have reportedly shown helpful properties in controlling diabetes. It regulates the production of insulin from the cells into the blood stream and low glycemic index of Bael maintains the blood sugar level.
Beneficial for Digestion and Constipation: Bael is an apt fruit for curing many digestive issues due to its anti- bacterial, anti- fungal properties. It is recommended for people suffering from stomach ulcers as the high content of tannin in its leaves reduces inflammation. The laxative properties of Bael help in cleaning the intestines and prevent constipation. Regular consumption of Bael juice with a pinch of salt and pepper has been known to show wonders in treating constipation.
Scurvy: Scurvy is a disease caused due to the deficiency of Vitamin-C in the body resulting in sore arms and legs and weakness. Bael having a load of vitamin-C acts as a boon for people suffering from Vitamin-C deficiency and cures the disease in no time. Bael for Skin Problems: Due to the presence of the anti-bacterial properties in Bael, it is highly effective against skin infections, cures many skin disorders and promotes skin health.
Controlling Cholesterol: Bael plays an essential role in detoxifying the body by removing toxins from the body. It controls triglycerides, serum and tissue lipid profiles and also reduces the accumulation of LDL cholesterol (i.e., Low-Density Lipoproteins or bad cholesterol) within the body. This action in turn improves metabolism and helps the body to shed weight faster. It is useful in treating heart, liver and kidney problems. Due to the high amount of potassium, it purifies the blood, removes toxins and boosts the overall immunity of the body.
Cardiovascular: Being a natural antioxidant and a cardio-protective fruit, Bael has been found to have a positive effect on the heart and hence plays a pivotal role in treating a host of heart ailments. It not only strengthens the heart muscles, drops cholesterol levels in the blood but also prevents lipid accumulation, which in turn reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, heart blocks, heart attacks, blood clots etc.
Respiratory Anomalies: Imbued with anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic, and anti-asthmatic properties, Bael holds high significance in treating the common cold, cough and flu symptoms. It also thins and loosens rheum deposits within the chest and nasal cavities and hence eases breathing and helps the body to get rid of mucus. It is also beneficial in treating bronchitis and asthmatic conditions.
Promotes Hair Growth: Apart from uplifting overall health, Bael has been a boon for promoting hair growth since ancient times. The anti-microbial nature of the plant treats various scalp and hair infections like folliculitis, itching and dandruff. It nourishes the hair follicles with essential nutrients, improves blood circulation and strengthens the hair strands from the roots. By normalizing the secretion of the stress hormone, it also prevents hair fall and breakage due to stress and anxiety.
Antiulcer properties: The glycoprotein secretions of Bael have been found in various studies to be extremely effective in treating different types of stomach ulcer including peptic and ulcerative colitis and even treat colic pain. Owing to its soothing properties, the pulp of Bael when applied on ulcers or blisters within the oral cavity helps in speeding up the healing process. Bael leaves are naturally antibiotic and antifungal, which is beneficial for health. The extract of Bael leaf can control cholesterol levels in the blood. The juice called Bael sherbet is also made from the tree’s fruit which holds high medicinal values.
(The author is Associate Professor of Biochemistry in SKUAST-Jammu).