Thorny deciduous tree growing to 26 ft (8 m). Has aromatic oval- to lance-shaped leaves, greenish-white flowers, and yellow plum shaped fruit.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to India, bael grows throughout much of Southeast Asia in dry forests. It is also cultivated throughout the region.
Fruit, leaves, root, twigs.
Bael contains coumarins, flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins, carotinoids, and volatile oil.
History & Folklore
The bael tree is sacred to the Hindu deities Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth and good fortune) and Shiva (the god of health), and it is commonly planted near temples. Its medicinal virtues are described in the Charaka Samhita, an herbal text written c. 400 BCE.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
The astringent half-ripe bael fruit reduces irritation in the digestive tract and is excellent for diarrhea and dysentery. The ripe fruit is demulcent and laxative, with a significant vitamin C content. It eases stomach pain and supports the healthy function of this organ. Bael’s astringent leaves are taken to treat peptic ulcers. The tree’s most unusual application is for earache. A piece of dried root is dipped in the oil of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) and set alight. Oil from the burning end is dripped into the ear. (This is not a recommended practice.)