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Most useful medicinal plant.

Bael: Most useful medicinal plant

By Mohammed Arifeen

Bael is a 

Bael Aegle marmelos at Narendrapur near Kolkata, West Bengal, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

medium – sized, thin, aromatic, gum-bearing tree growing up to 18 meters tall. It is found in dry forests on hills and plains of northern, central and southern India, southern Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.

It has found fame in India for being able to grow in places that other trees cannot. It is tolerant of water logging and has an outstandingly wide temperature tolerance (from -7°C to 48°C). It usually requires a dry season to give fruit.

Mention of bael tree has been found in writings dating back to 800 B C. It is cultivated throughout India, mainly in temple gardens, because of its status as a sacred tree.  It is also seen in and around northern Malaya, the drier areas of Java, and to a restricted extent on northern Luzon in the Philippine Islands where it first bore fruit in 1914. It is grown in some Egyptian gardens, and in Surinam and Trinidad.

The fruit is eaten fresh or dried. The fruit is also used in religious rituals. In Hinduism the tree is sacred. It is used in the worship of Shiva, who is said to favor the leaves.

It has other names like wood apple, elephant apple and monkey fruit. This fruit is called elephant apple because it is the favorite of elephants. It gets the name wood apple because of its hard wooden shell.

The bael tree is one of the most useful medicinal plants of India. Its medicinal properties have been described in the ancient medical treatise in Sanskrit, Charaka Samhita. All the parts of this tree including stem, bark, root, leaves and fruit at all stages of maturity has medicinal virtues and has been used as traditional medicine for a long time.

The health benefits of bael fruit or wood apple include constipation, indigestion, peptic ulcer, piles, respiratory problems, diarrhea, and dysentery.

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