Medicinal Plants: 2
Bel or Stone Apple
Prabodh Raj Chandol
Ped Panchayat, Delhi
Bel is a deciduous thorny tree with trifoliate leaves and large woody fruits. The tree is medium-sized, having leaves normally in groups of three but also found rarely in groups of five and even eleven. The tree grows in all parts of India and found upto an altitude of 1195 meters in Himalayan Regions. Its botanical name is Aegle Marmelos Corr. Its Sanskrit name is Bilva and English names are Bengal Qunice, Golden Apple & Wood Apple. The flowers have a sweet scent like that of honey and are large and greenish-white in colour. The bel fruit is greyish-green, turning somewhat yellow when ripe. It is generally round in shape but there is an elongated variety also. The size of the fruits varies too, some being as big as the human head. The outer shell of the better variety of fruit is thin, but that of the wild fruit is thick and rough. The pulp of the ripe fruit is fibrous and orange in colour. It is very sweet and tasty. The pulp, which is an astringent, has laxative as well as tonic properties. The fruit of the bel takes almost a year to ripen.
The bel is a sacred tree for Hindus and is very rarely cut down by them. Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati are believed to be fond of the bel. Its leaves are offered to them in worship.
Every part of the bel tree is useful. Poultice made of bel leaves is considered to be a cure for ophthalmia.
The bark and the juice of the leaves are used as household remedies for certain fevers and intestinal ailments. Fruits are used in diarrhoea & dysentery. Its Roots are believed to cure palpitation of the heart and are also useful in fevers, urinary troubles. Its other uses are:-
1. A liquid food is prepared with unripe bel fruit, ela, sugar and parched rice corn. This is given to the child in lack of appetite and to develop hard stool formation after birth.
2. Fleshy part of the bel fruit marrow, dried and powdered is used in vomiting and diarrhoea of children.
3. Juice of bel leaves is boiled with gingili oil and it is used in ear-ache and ear inflammation especially in children.
4. Root of bel and musta is made into a decoction and given in vomiting and diarrhoea.