The Bael tree or Bilva (in Sanskrit) is an ancient Ayurvedic tree known for its spiritual and medicinal importance. It is used extensively by Hindus and has been described in Indian literature, since the Vedic period. It is one of the Dashamoola (group of ten roots) herbs. Its ternate leaves are called as “Tripatra” (3 leaves) also commonly known as “Shiva Dhruma”. Hindus are known to offer these leaves in prayers to Lord Shiva and Parvathi with tree usually grown near the temple.
The Bilva tree is said to possess essence of celestial light. Also, each part of tree is highly potent. In Skanda Purana (the largest Mahapurana, a genre of eighteen Hindu religious texts), the Bilva is considered as one among Kalpavruksha, that emerged during Ksheera Sagara Manthana (churning of the Ocean milk as mentioned in the Bhagvata Purana, the Vishnu Purana and the Mahabharat. The Padma Purana mentions that offering the Bilva leaves by chanting mantra to Lord Shiva brings fortunes.
Bilva (botanical name: Aegel mermelos) belongs to Rutaceae family. It is a medium-sized deciduous thorny plant that grows up to 30-40 feet with limited number of branches that are irregular/crooked. Branchlets are long tender and drooping with alternate, trifoliate, gland dotted semi succulent glabrous leaves. The flowers are greenish-white and sweet-scented. Fruits are sub-spherical to pear shaped, can reach the size of large grapefruit or bigger, has a smooth woody shell with a green, gray or yellow peel. The Bilva tree is a native of India and is found widely in Asia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Banlgadesh and Thailand.
The unripe Bilva fruit helps to cure disorders caused due to imbalances in the Vata and Kapha dosha. Due to its astringent, bitter and pungent taste and anti-inflammatory properties, it helps increases Pitta and enhances digestion and other metabolic activities significantly.
Bilva is known to help various health conditions including:
Peptic Ulcer: The Bilva leaves infusion is considered as the best remedy for peptic ulcer. The leaves are soaked in water overnight and in the morning – strained and used as a beverage. It can be consumed daily and is also known to give relief from dyspepsia, sinusitis, cold, gastritis and indigestion.
Arthritis: The Bilva stem bark also helps treat rheumatoid arthritis, cold and cough. Its astringent and pungent taste works as an absorbent and best carminative. It is known to help in cardiac problems too.
Loss of appetite: The Bilva root tastes sweet and is known to increase appetite. In case of loss of appetite, 1 tbsp of dried Bilva leaves mixed in a glass of buttermilk must be consumed every day for 3 days.
Respiratory problems: The oil that is extracted from the bael is known to be helpful in curing the respiratory problems including asthma and cold.
Diabetes: Bilva leaves are known to effectively control blood sugar levels in one’s body. The juice from crushed Bilva leaves is rich in laxatives, which helps in producing the required insulin to control the sugar levels.
Diarrhea: It is most effective in chronic diarrhea and ulcerative colitis. Sliced and dried, the unripe fruit of Bilva is usually reduced into a powder and can be used for acute or chronic dysentery.
Anti-inflammatory: Belpatra is said to have anti-inflammatory properties and can be applied on any inflamed region for quick relief. Bael is said to have anti-fungal and anti-viral properties, due to which it is used in treating a number of infections in our body.
Constipation: Mixed with a small amount of salt and black pepper, Belpatra is a natural remedy for curing constipation. It helps by removing the toxins from the intestines, thereby clearing bowels.
Cholesterol: Belpatra is also used to control cholesterol levels in one’s body, and is also known to treat heart diseases.
Other uses include: Healing tuberculosis by eating the Bilva fruit pulp, mixed with honey and jaggery daily, for up to 40 days; elimination of intestinal worms by mixing 5 gms of dried bilva fruit pulp powder with warm water – to be consumed twice a day for 3 days. Bilva is also used in ulcerative colitis and to reduce vomiting, stomach cramp, pain etc
Bilva Soup Recipe:
Barley – ¼ cup
Jujube seeds-1/4 cup
Horse gram– ¼ cup
Green gram – ¼ cup
Urad dal – ¼ cup
Bilva unripe fruit powder – 2 tbs
Buttermilk – ½ cup
Jeera – ½ tbs
Ghee – ½ tbs
Mustard – ¼ tbs
Hing (Asafetida) – 2 pinch
Salt – for taste
Soak Barley, horse gram, jujube seeds, green gram, urad dal separately for 3 hours.
In a thick bottomed kadai or pressure cooker, cook the soaked grains together with Bilva fruit powder, ghee and salt.
Once cooked, transfer it into bowl. Let it cool slightly, then add butter milk, sprinkle jeera powder and mix.
Season it with ghee, mustard seeds, hing and enjoy!
About Mahanasa Healthy Kitchen :
Mahanasa Healthy Kitchen is an Ayurvedic clinic that offers Ayurveda cooking classes in Bangalore, Karnataka. At Mahanasa, students are taught to cook tasty and healthy dishes according to the season and nature of their bodies. These dishes can be prepared at home with the ingredients available in regular kitchen. Students are taught nutritional facts, Ayurveda recipes, medicinal properties of the ingredients through these classes. The course is structured in a way to understand Ayurvedic principles behind cooking techniques. This would immensely help in understanding individual diet requirements based on the season to keep healthier life. A healthy family is a happy family.