This post was last updated on April 24, 2020 by Preethi Sukumaran
Today we are going to explore the Ayurvedic properties and benefits of Bael, an auspicious herb that is used in spiritual practice in Sanatana Dharma in India. Vilwa or Bael, Aegle marmalos, is also called the Golden Apple or Bengal Quince. Bael is a tree native to India, Nepal and Myanmar. It is also present via naturalisation in countries like Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
Like the south Indian soapberry which is called Sapindus trifoliatus due to its tri fruit arrangement, the Bael tree has trifoliate leaf arrangement with each leaf having 3 distinct leaflets. The Vilwa is a true Indian native, tolerant of a wide range of temperatures and can grow in a wide range of soil pHs and in unusually cold or unusually warm climates.
Benefits of Bael: Religious, cultural and spiritual significance of this Herb
The Bael’s trifoliate leaf arrangement is of great significance in Hinduism. On one level the 3 leaflets signify the trinity of Brahmi, Vishnu and Maheshwara. On another level, the trifoliate leaflets also signify the 3 eyes of Shiva and point to an unusually awakened and spiritually charged plant.
The Skanda Purana says that the Bael tree grew from the sweat of Goddess Parvati, so she is set to reside in her different avatars in various parts of the tree – for example, the branches of Bael are said to be Dakshayani, the Bael / Vilwa fruit is Goddess Katyayani and Goddess Gauri, its flowers.
Apart from literally embodying the Shaktis, the BAel tree is also cosidered extremely auspicious and connected with Goddess Lakshmi. So culturally, it is considered good form to do a circumambulation of a Bael tree for good luck before starting any new venture – especially if the Bael tree is the Sthala Vriksha of a temple.
The leaves of Bael are considered unusually spiritually charged in Hinduism and is said to reverberate with sattvic energy. Many forms of Shiva which are worshiped for health and well being use Bael leaf in their spiritual practice.
For example: the temple of Lord Marundeeswarara in Chennai is said to be the place where Lord Shiva initiated Acharya Agastya into Siddha medicine. Here the Prasad of Lord Shiva, his sacred Ash (vibuthi) is given to devotees in Bael leaves / Vilwa patra (Vilwa leaf) which has been sanctified by placing it on the Shiva linga in the temple. This Bael / Vilwa leaf is said to be miraculous in curing disease and promoting well being.
The Bael tree is so sacred that the Atharva Veda says that it is a great sin to burn and use Bael / Vilwa wood for fuel or cooking. Even today some of the Santhal sub tribes worship the Bael / Vilwa tree as a totemic deity.
Ayurvedic properties and benefits of Bael :
Bael is an extremely important herb in Ayurveda with multiple benefits.
Raj Nighantu gives us a few synonyms of Bael : It is called “Sri Phala” (fruit of the Goddess Shree), Lakshmi Phala, Gandha-patra (fragrant leaves), Patra-shresta (special leaves), Saiva-patra (leaves that are the favorite of Lord Shiva), Triatra (trifoliate leaves), etc.
The Acharya describes Bael as a sweet, cardiotonic, astringent, heavy and pitta balancing herb. It balances Kapha, diarrhea and jawars (fevers). It helps stimulate both appetite and improves digestive properties.
Acharya Charaka describes Bael with Shothahara (anti inflammatory), Arshoghna (useful in treatment of haemorrhoids) benefits. Bael balances both excess Kapha and excess Vata and removes Ama or undigested waste in the body. Bael leaf is extremely beneficial in gastritis, lack of appetite and to cure colds and sinusitis. The leaf is an excellent external poultice for the eyes (when cleaned well). The Bael leaf is also used internally to cure pitta based complaints like ulcer, hypertension, jaundice, headache and other pitta aggravations.
Acharya Vagbhatta in Ashtanga Hridayam describes the properties and benefits of Both ripe and unripe Bael fruits. He says that the ripe fruit of Bael is extremely dfficult to digest, vitiates dosha and and creates odoriferous gas in the system. The unripe Bael fruit on the other hand has many benefits: It is Deepana (kindles digestive fire), and pacifies Kapha and Vata. Both ripe and unripe fruit fo Bael are described as “grahi” – this means they are absorptive in nature and can be used for dysentry, diarrhoea etc on the vaidya’s advise, and should not be used in cases of constipation.
Bael fruit is very commonly used in Ayurveda and is a very well known folk remedy in India for digestive disturbances. The unripe fruit is intense, stimulates digestion and balances vata and kapha. It is used in acute diarrhea and also helps in ulcerative colitis. It is critical to note that the benefits of bael in IBS disorders is ONLY when the unripe fruit is taken. The ripe fruit is very heavy to digest and may disturb the doshas if taken without supervision.
It is a common practice nowadays for many shops and brands to sell native herbs like Bael in the form of syrups, squashes, sharbats etc promoting it as a healthy drink. Before buying such products, we must ascertain if the preparation has used ripe / unripe fruits and whether the person promoting the product has good ayurvedic / siddha knowledge – if these products are made by mistake with ripened fruit, we will be doing ourselves a lot of harm.
The acharyas also give many other interesting uses of Bael. Acharya Charaka and Acharya Sushruta advise that the heartwood of Bael bark must be used to prepare a bed for the pregnant women. Acharya Sushruta refers to the Bael as a herb that promotes both medhya(intelligence) and ayush (life span).
Benefits of bael : how we use this herb at Krya
At Krya, Bael is used in many Krya skin products for its Shothahara (anti inflammatory) properties and also because of its sattvic and spiritually charged nature.
When available, Bael goes into Krya’s classic and Anti acne skin formulations for its anti inflammatory, dosha balancing and astringent and cooling effect on skin. The addition of this very valuable herb helps our Classic and Anti Acne range work on imbalanced pitta, cool and soothe the skin, help in toxin elimination in the skin and also help shrink size of the acne on skin.Besides its very obvious health benefits, Bael, we believe, helps charge our products with high spiritual energy.
To sum up: the ayurvedic properties and benefits of Bael
Bael, is an important ayurvedic herb with many benefits. In this blog post, we looked at a short compilation of this herb’s ayurvedic properties and its multiple benefits. We saw how across Sidda, Ayurveda, traditional folk lore and cultural and spiritual practices, the Bael herb is integrated into Indic civilisation.
Bael is an important fruit that is used in Ayurveda in digestive disorders like ulcerative colitis, Ama, lack of appetite, jwara, etc. Every part of the Bael tree from its flowers to leaves, fruits, bark and roots have multiple benefits. We are most familiar with Bael fruits today – even in this, we saw how we must take care to choose the right kind of fruit for our condition.
At Krya, we use Bael for its anti inflammatory benefits in our Pitta skin ranges like our Classic skin range and our Anti acne skin range, whenever available.
Ayurvedic herbs are potent and strong, and must always be tailor made using the right anupana to suit your constitution. Do not attempt to self medicate. If you feel Bael could help you, please meet an Ayurvedic Vaidya who can diagnose your condition and prescribe Bael in the right dose and right format for you.
Our work at Krya is part of our larger mission to bring in more awareness of traditional Indian medicinal systems like Ayurveda and Siddha, inculcate a sense of pride in India’s deep historical, cultural, spiritual and medicinal traditions. We also exist to bring in a sense of balance: there are too many products and companies out there recklessly and thoughtlessly endangering human health, water and soil health by using highly toxic and dangerous chemicals to formulate everyday consumer products. We exist to provide you with safe, holistic and sustainable alternatives using India’s divine and sacred herbs.
We do herb related posts at Krya to give you a glimpse into just how potent, powerful and good for us the plants used in Ayurveda are and to help you understand how safe and effective hair, skin and home care products can be easily formulated using these healing herbs. We hope you found this post inspiring and useful.
If you too would like to transition to our holistic sustainable goodies and need help choosing products, please call us (0-75500-89090) or write to us.