Aegle marmelos – Fructus immaturus & maturus (Rutaceae)
Common name: Bael fruit (E), Bel (H), Bengal quince (E), Wood Apple tree (E)
Sanskrit: Bilva, Shivadruma
The mind enhancing and nervous system soothing effects of this plant are legendary. Brahman is the Hindu name given to the universal consciousness and Brahma is the divinity responsible for all ‘creative’ forces in the world. Brahmi literally means the ‘energy’ or ‘shakti’ of Brahman (i.e. Sarasvati). With Brahmi deriving its name from these roots it has a lot to live up to. And it does!
Bilva is a deciduous tree that can grow to heights of up to 8 metres. The branches have sharp spines and the flowers are a greenish-white colouring with a very sweet scent. The fruits are a large, greenish-white colour with a very tough and woody outer coating. Bilva trees will commonly grow in the Himalayas up to altitudes of 1200m.
How it Works
Bilva is regarded as a tonic for a weak digestive system, particularly where there has been damage to the digestive tract. The essential oils found in the plant have demonstrated strong anti-microbial activity, with an affinity for bacterial and yeast based infections. Extracts of bilva derived from the plant’s root also encourage a healthy inflammation response in both acute and chronic inflammatory conditions, particularly within the digestive tract.
Into the Heart of Bilva
Bilva is a key digestive herb with astringent, carminative and rejuvenating actions on the digestive tract. Its natural astringency has made bilva a popular choice in treating diarrhoea and digestive conditions characterised by excess moisture and water. As bilva demonstrates anti-bacterial actions, it is excellent for bacillary dysentery or acute infection of the digestive tract that has resulted in a watery diarrhoea. The rejuvenative action of bilva on the digestive mucosa encourages cellular healing and regeneration of damaged cells where there has been ulceration or damage from chronic illness. Bilva is a naturally bitter plant; the bitter components stimulate digestive metabolism and can help to relieve any digestive congestion that may be influencing the onset of spasmodic cramping, nausea or general digestive sensitivity. In larger quantities, it may display a laxative action, but at the right dosage, bilva can help alleviate chronic congestion and prevent the build-up of any toxicity in the digestive tract.
GIT: Bilva is specifically indicated in chronic IBS, diarrhea, dysentery and malabsorption that manifests as long-term imbalances with ‘mucusy’ and watery stools. Its astringency checks the excessive downwards movement of vata. It also dries the excess mucus and toxicity that comes with high kapha aggravations. It is a good choice where there may be ulceration and inflammation of the mucus membranes in the intestines as present in ulcers, colitis, and Crohn’s disease.