Wood Apple is also called as Bael (Aegle marmelos) or Limonia acidissima, a tree native to Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and southeast Asia east to Java.
Common names in other languages are :
English: Wood Apple, Elephant Apple, Monkey Fruit or Curd Fruit.
Kannada: Belada Hannu / Byalada Hannu
Telugu: Vellaga Pandu, Maredu pandu
Tamil: Vilam Palam
Bengali: Koth Bel
Hindi: Kaitha or Kath Bel.
Marathi: KavaTH .
Javanese: Kawis or Kawista
Sanskrit: Kapittha,Dadhistha, Surabhicchada, Kapipriya, Dadhi, Puṣpapahala , Dantasātha, Phalasugandhika, Cirapākī, Karabhithū, Kanṭī, Gandhapatra, Grāhiphala, Kaṣāyāmlaphala.
Usage: The fruit is eaten plain, mixed into a variety of beverages and desserts, or preserved as jam. The scooped-out pulp from its fruits is eaten raw with or without sugar, or is blended with coconut milk and palm-sugar syrup and drunk as a beverage, or frozen as an ice cream. It is also used in chutneys and for making jelly and jam.
Its pulp/paste is eaten with sugar or jaggery or even honey.
Nutrition values of wood apple : A hundred gm of wood apple(bael fruit) pulp contains 31 gm of carbohydrate and two gm of protein, which adds up to nearly 140 calories. The ripe fruit is rich in beta-carotene, a precursor of Vitamin A; it also contains significant quantities of the B vitamins thiamine and riboflavin, and small amounts of Vitamin C. Wild bael fruit tends to have more tannin than the cultivated ones; tannin depletes the body of precious nutrients, and evidence suggests it can cause cancer.
Medicinal and Spiritual values : The bael fruit is more popular as medicine than as food. The Yajur Veda mentions the bael tree, but the Charaka Samhita, an Ayurveda treatise from the 1st millennium BC, was the first book to describe its medicinal properties. Hindu scriptures abound in references to the bael tree and its leaves. The devotees of Lord Shiva commonly offer bael leaves to the deity, especially on Shivaratri; this probably explains why bael trees are so common near temples. Hindus also believe that ghosts live on bael trees. Another belief associates its leaves to goddess Lakshmi.
The unripe fruit is described as astringent and is used in combination with bela and other medicines in diarrhoea and dysentery. The ripe fruit is said to be useful in hiccup and affections of the throat. The leaves are aromatic and carminative. The fruit is much used in India as a liver and cardiac tonic, and, when unripe, as an astringent means of halting diarrhea and dysentery and effective treatment for hiccough, sore throat and diseases of the gums.
The pulp is poulticed onto bites and stings of venomous insects, as is the powdered rind. Leaves, bark, roots and fruit pulp are all used against snakebite.
The seed oil is a purgative, and the leaf juice mixed with honey is a folk remedy for fever. The tannin-rich and alkaloid-rich bark decoction is a folk cure for malaria. The pulp, taken complete with the seed and fibre, is prescribed as a remedy for irritable bowel syndrome in Sinhalese Medicine. Vasco da Gama’s crew, suffering from diarrhoea and dysentery in India, used to the bael fruit for relief.
Wood Apple is good source of protiens, iron, phosphorus, calcium, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin,, kerotene, citric acid, oxalic acid, tonic acid etc.
Health benefits of wood apple consumption :
- Fresh Bael leaves juice (25-50 ml) mixed with sugar can cure stomach pain, constipation among kids.
- To cure swelling at few joints or limbs, make bael leaves paste and apply them on the swollen area. Oil inside the leaves will sink into skin to cure the swelling.
- For food allergies and itching of skin, mix fresh bael leaves with ajwain seeds along with salt and eat the paste to reduce irritation.
- In Bael fruit pulp, add sufficient salt and black pepper powder to increase digestion capacity. It also cures constipation.
- Mix jaggaery with wood apple pulp and eat to get rid of tiredness, fatigue and gain new energy.
- Bael fruit chutney or raita(pulp mixed with curd) will cure progesterone hormone deficiency and related problems in women
- Mix honey with wood apple pulp and eat to control excessive thirst in summer. It also removes excess gas formation in stomach. This mixture applied on tongue will cure mouth ulcers too.
- Extract juice from wood apple pulp and boil it. Drinking this juice before lunch or dinner will remove excess heat from body.
- Wood apple pulp juice mixed with dry ginger powder and jaggery is good for mothers who need excess milk for their infants.
- Regular consumption of wood apple will keep women away from breast cancer.
- 50 gms of wood apple pulp juice mixed with equal amount of warm water and sufficient honey is good to purify blood.
- Feronia Gum extracted from its bark will control diabetes
- Regular consumption of wood apple will keep kidneys clean.