Aegle Marmelos Linn

Botanical Name: Aegle Marmelos Linn

Sanskrit Name: Bilva

Family Name: Rutaceae


Vernacular names :

  1. Hindi – Bel
  2. Engish –Bilva
  3. Malayalam –Vilvam
  4. Tamil –Vilvam

 Synonyms –Malurah ,Sandilya, Sailusa, Sriphala, Gandhagarbha, Sadaphala, Mahakaittha, Kantaki, Granthila

Ganas in classical texts:

Charaka: Sothahara, Arsoghna, Asthopanopaga

Susruta: Varunadi, Ambashtadi, Brihatpanchamula

Vagbhata:Varunadi, Ambashtadi


It is extensively described and used in the vedic period. Bilvamanidharana is considered as duhsvapananasana, rakshigna, rasayana, prajasthapana, visaghna etc. it is also used for rituals, marriages etc. its cosmetic properties were also documentedby ancient texts. It is considered to be the best sangrahika and dipaniya drug being vatakaphahara. Susruta quoted bilva as rasayana.

Bilva is also called sivadruma is held sacred by hindus, the leaves being offered in prayers to siva and parvati. Different parts of the tree are used in ancient medicines , root ( avtakara), stem (hridroga or jvarahara), leaves ( madhumehahara), apakvaphala (sangrahi) and pakvaphala ( laxative).

Origin of Bilva

Bilva’s likely origin is India , ancient texts from the Vedic period (2,000-800 BC) reference the fruit and its religious significance. According to Hindu scriptures, bilva’s inception coincided with the world’s creation: The book, “Handbook of Tibetan Buddhist Symbols,” states that goddess Parvati’s sweat beads fell and created bilva trees while she was churning the oceans and creating life on Earth. Hindu iconography is replete with bilva, too—its trifoliate leaves emerge on Shiva’s crown and trident, and the points of three-pronged leaves also represent the holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

Botanical details

This is a medium to fairly large sized deciduous and glabrous tree. Branches posses straight and sharp axillary, bark is soft, corky, and light grey. Leaves are trifoliate, alternate occasionally five foliate. Flowers are large, greenish white, sweet scented. Friuts are grey, rind woody. Numerous seeds , oblong, compressed,, embedded in sacs covered with thick orange colored sweet pulp.


Found almost throughout India

 Chemical constituents

Root – xanthotoxin, umbelliferone, marmesin, marmin, skimmimetc

Heart wood – furuquinoline, marmesin, beta sitosterol

Leaves – essential oil containing alpha and beta phellandrene, rutin, marmesinin, aegelin, aegelenine etc.

Ripe fruits – xanthotoxol, marmesin, skimming etc


Rasa –kasaya, tikta

Guna –laghu, ruksha

Virya – usna

Vipaka –katu

Karma –vatakaphahara, grahi, dipana- pachana


Atisara ,Grahani, Prameha, Sotha, Agnimandya

 Part used –fruit, leaves, root

Therapeutic uses

Pittathisara- fruit pulp of bilva and madhuka are mixed with sugar and honey and administered with rice water.

Grahani – paste of unripen fruit is given with sunthi and guda while patient is on butter milk as diet.

Kamala – leaf juice is given along with trikatu

Dosage – decoction 50-100ml, powder 3-5g, leaf juice 10-20ml


Bilvataila, Bilvarasayana, Asana bivaditaila, Bilvavaleha, Dasamularishta, Jirakabilvadilehya, Bilvadivati

Research works

  1. CVS activity

Aqeucous and alcoholic extracts of leaves caused an increase in amplitude and force of contractions of frog’s heart similar to those shown by digoxin. Both the extracts stimulated frog’s heart as seen from the ECG’s ( Haravey; 1968)

  1. Antidiabetic property

the alcoholic extracts of roots and fruits showed hypogyceamic activity in albino rats ( Dharetal; 1968)

  1. Effect of leaves is studied in normal and alloxan- induced DM. in normal rabbits, highest decrease (35.3%) in blood glucose level was recorded with 1 g equivalent dose after 4 hrs of administration. The hypoglyceamic effect at 12 hrs was moderate but no effect was observed at 24hrs of drug administration. In diabetic rabbits, the extract produced significant antihyperglycaemic effect within 3 days when given at the dose equivalent to 1 g powder/kg/day (Rao et al;1995)
  2. Anthelmintic activity

Marmelosin showed anthelmintic activity against ankylostomiasis (lamba&bhargava. 1969)

  1. Antidiarrhoeal activity

Effect of Beal fruit in amoebiasis is reported ( verma. B.H.U.,1977) , Bilva powders in Pravahika ( Chandak, Nashik, 1986; Meshram, Raipur, 1996; acharya, BHU, 1980; Desai V.G., Bombay, 1927.

Bilva – A Home Remedy

  1. Extract of bilva leaves and honey will cure jaundice by continuing for 2 weeks.
  2. Pulp of unripe fruit of bilva soaked in gingelly oil for 1 week when applied over the body before bathing can remove burning sensation in soles
  3. Juice of bilva leaves when drunken every morning in empty stomach will help the sugar levels in the body to get controlled.
  4. Stomach pain due to indigestion can be cured by eating a bit of bilva (unripe) along with ginger powder.

Storing Bilva

Distributors pick bilvawhile it’s still greenish yellow, with the expectation that it will ripen in 8 to 10 days. Bilva does not require refrigeration and can be kept at room temperature up to 30C. In warm conditions, the fruit will last up to two weeks. In cool storage with relative humidity between 85 to 90 percent, bilvawill keep for four months.

Avoid storing the fruit below 9C, as this will cause chilling injuries.

Bilva Recipe Ideas and Uses

  1. Eat bilva like a grapefruit by adding just a pinch of sugar. Just as some Floridians may eat half a grapefruit and drink strong black coffee to start their day, many Indonesians eat a bilva for breakfast to jumpstart their digestive juices.
  2. Make bilva toffee by combining the fresh or dried pulp with sugar, coconut powder, and vegetable oil.
  3. The fruit’s texture and consistency make it ideal for jam and thick, gooey marmalade. Syrup is another common bilva concoction.
  4. Make bilva juice and shakes by blending the pulp with soymilk and sugar. Consider adding other fruits such as mango, papaya, or coconut meat.
  5. Add bilva pulp to sticky rice. This will impart a tangy zest to the dish.

Practical Purposes

  1. The fruit pulp doubles as laundry detergent and soap
  2. Some vinegar producers use the pulp to get rid of residue scum.
  3. Jewelry makers in remote areas use the gum coating bilva seeds as an adhesive.
  4. When mixed with lime plaster, bilva pulp doubles as a waterproofing agent
  5. Artists use bilva pulp to make a golden watercolor. Applying a thin layer of watery pulp also protects a painting’s integrity.
  6. Shampoo manufacturers use the fruit’s limonene oil for scent.


Harvesting-The tree is leafless or nearly so for a short time in the hot season. It flowers during May-July, and the fragrant flowers are visited by bees. Complete defoliation of the tree takes place in the following April during   ripening of fruit. The new leaves and   shoots appear at the end of April, and the flower buds appear almost simultaneously in May and fruit-setting takes place in the third week of May. A large number of flower buds appear in each terminal branch but ultimately the bearing of fruits is restricted to only a few on each branch. The fruits require about a year for ripening. By the end of October,they attain almost half of their full size. In northern India, they do not ripen till April-June of the year after flowering and some. fruits may remain on the tree till the end of July before falling off. The fruits are deep green initially but thei?colour gradually fades with the advancement of maturity and becomes yellowish at ripening (Troup, I, 168; Roy & Singh, loc. cit.; Jauhari& Singh, Joe. cit.).

The fruits are harvested with a portion of the fruiting stalk as it makes handling of the fruits easier. Also, the stalk serves as a signal of ripening, as it gets easily detached only in the ripe fruit. The bael tree may yield up to 400 fruits at the age of I 0-15 years; however, a crop of 800- 1,000 fruits on 40-50-year-old trees, raised from seedlings, is not uncommon. The average yield is 300-400 fruits (200-250 kg) per tree. The size and shape of the fruits vary from   variety   to   variety. Treatment with growth substances, like gibberellic acid (IO ppm) and naphthoxy acetic acid ( 100 ppm) improves the fruit-setting, but doesnot reduce   the   fruit-drop.   The   quality of fruits is associated greatly with the weight and size of the seed sacs; the larger and heavier the seed sacs, the greater is the amount of mucilage and the poorer the quality (Hayes, 409; Jauhari& Singh, loc. cit.; Roy& Singh, loc. cit.; Pramanik& Bose, S Indian Hort, 1974, 22, 117; Teaotia et al, loc. cit.).

 Chemical Composition and Utilisation – A Detailed Review

The fruits are official in the Indian Pharmacopoeia. They gre also valued in Ayurvedic medicine. The ripe fruits jire woody, large, spherical, up to 20cm in diam, oblong or pear-shaped, with a more or less smooth or slightly tuberculate surface. The peripheral part just within the rind is fleshy and thick, and has a pleasant resinous odour. The walls separating the chambers have a light yellow tint which becomes yellowish brown on exposure, and have a warm or slightly acrid bitter taste. The chambers   are full of amber- or honey-coloured, viscous, very sticky or glutinous, translucent pulp which isslightlysweet and feebly aromatic(I.P.C., 35; I.P., 1966, 58; PharmacognAyurv Drugs, Ser. I, No. 2, 1953, 89)

Analysis   of the fruit gave   the ‘following   values: moisture, 61.5; protein, 1.8; fat, 0.3; carbohydrates, 31.8; and fibre, 2.9 g/100 g; calcium, 85.0; phosphorus, 50.0; iron, 0.6; thiamine, 0.13; riboflavin, 1.2; niacin, 1.1; oxalic acid, 18.7; and vitaminC, 8.0 mg/lOOg; carotene, 55 µg/ lOOg;   and calorific value,   137 Kcal/lOOg.   The fruit contains allo-imperatorin,   marmelosin identical   with imperatorin, and beta -sitosterol. It contains   marmelide (C16H1404, mp ll0°, 1,1-dimethylallyl ether), an isomer of imperatorin, which exhibits   tyrosinase-accelerating and   tryptophan   pyrrolase-inhibiting effect   in   Bufomelanosticus. The presence of psoralen (mp 162°) a powerful germination inhibitor, and tannic acid is also reported. The fruit and rind yield, respectively, 7-9 and 18-22% tannin [Nutritive Value of Indian   Foods,   86; Belavady&Balasubramanian, Indian J agricSci, 1959, 29(2&3), 151; Singh, Qua/it Plant Mat Veg, 1972-73, 22, 335; Saha&Chatterjee, J Indian chemSoc, 1957, 34, 228; Sinha-Roy &Chakraborty,Phytochemistry,   1976,   15, 2005; Siddappa, Food Sci, 1958, -t, 186; Quraishi& Khan, Pakist J For, 1965, 15, 250; Chakraborty et al, Chem&Ind, 1978, 848].

The fruit yields 2 per cent ofdried, water-soluble gum. Hydrolysis pf the gum gave: galactose, 20.4; arabinose,10. 7; o-galacturonic acid, 45.2%; and traces of rhamnose. A process for preparation of o-galactose from the gum has been developed. The gummy substance surrounding the seeds serves as a good adhesive and is added to water paints   to improve   strength  and brilliancy. It is moreabundant in young fruits. The gum has been used for the stabilization of drilling fluids. The stem also contains a gum similar to gum arabic. A yellow dye is extracted from the rind of unripe fruits. The shells of smaller fruits are used as snuff-boxes [Duthie, I, 135; Fl Assam, I, 215; Haksar&Kendurkar, Paintindia,   1961-62, 11(1),   135; ChemAbstr, 1976, 85, 194475; 1977, 87, 197267; Parikh et al, J Indian chemSoc, 1958, 35, 125; CSIR News, 1979, 29,65]. The seeds yield an oil (34.4% on dry basis) having the following characteristics: sp gr30•, 0.918; n:f, 1.4647; acid val, 0.8; sap val, 193.6; iodval, 108.0; thiocyanogen val,70.4; and unsapon matter,   1.6%. The fatty acid composition of the oil is as follows: palmitic, 16.6; stearic,8.8; oleic, 30.5; linoleic, 36.0; and linolenic, 8.1 % (Eckey,553; Hilditch& Williams, 268).

Detailing Aegle Marmelos Linn

The Unripe Fruit

The unripe or half-ripe fruit is regarded as astringent, digestive and stomachic. The fruit is used in chronic diarrhoea and dysentery, and is said to act as a tonic for heart and   brain.   In the after-treatment of bacillary dysentery, the fruit is a useful adjuvant as it helps to remove   constipation which hinders the healing of ulcerated surfaces of intestines. The preparations of the bael fruit commonly used are: the extract made from fresh unripe fruits, liquid extract from dried slices of the unripe fruits, and the powdered, dry pulp which is kept in air tight bottles. The dried pulp is pale orange   or flesh coloured. The pulp of the fresh fruit may be mixed with sugar and cream or curd and strained to remove seeds and mucilage. Clinical trials of unripe fruits showed anti-viral activity against   Ranikhetdisease virus, hypoglycaemicactivity and significant results against intestinal parasites, viz. Ascarislumbricoides Linn., Entamoebahistolytica and Girardia sp. [IP C, 35; Chopra et al, 1958, 269; Kirtikar&Basu, I, 500; Ahuja, 11; Dhar et al, Indian J exp Biol,1968, 6, 232; Trivedi et al, J Res Indian Med, Yoga, 1978, 13(2), 28].

The Ripen Fruit

Bael fruits are occasionally substituted by wood apple [Feronialimonia (Linn.) Swingle] and mangosteen fruits ( Garciniamangostana Linn.); the latter is distinguished by the wedge-shaped, radiate stigmas and the darker rind to which the pulp does not adhere firmly (I.P.C., 36).

The ripe fruit is eaten fresh. The pulp, diluted withwater and added with requisite amount of sugar and , tamarind; forms a delicious cooling drink. The tender green fruit is utilized for making a preserve (morabba) which   occupies   an important place   in the preserves industry of North India. The fruit is rich in pectin but poor in acid and hence does not give a good jelly unless extra acid is added. Due to the presence of seeds and mucilage   in the pulp, the ripe fruit cannot be eaten comfortably. Also, due to the presence of oxidative enzymes, the pulp rapidly turns brown on exposure. To enhance its palatability andmogeneity, it necessary to add water to the pulp(upt   50%ofthe pulp)and heat it up to 70° with constant sfing to inactivate the enzymes and dissolve the gums. The mass is then sieved while hot to separate the seeds, cilage and fibre, arid is cooled immediately to preveloss of flavour. The pulp, thus obtained, is smooth a d uniform, and can serve as a base for various fruit pro ucts, like bael fruit squash,jam, and fruit nectar (Jauhari& Singh, loc. cit.; Roy & Singh, Joe. cit.; Ranjit Singh, 146; Hayes, 409).

The Roots and Bark

Besides the fruits, the root, bark, leaf and seed of baelare valued in the indigenous system of medicine. The root is an ingredient of the ‘dasamula’ (ten roots), a medicine commonly used by the Ayurvedic practitioners. The roots are woody, fairly large and often curved. Market samples consist mostly of cut lengths of the basal portions of the stouter lateral roots, varying from 30 to 120 cm in length and 15 to 30 cm in thickness, cylindrical and prominently lenticellated. In Kerala, the entire root or more often only the wood of the larger roots is accepted as official.

The bark as sold in the markets is not the rootbark but the stembark. It is cream yellow or greyish or yellowish brown, firm or compact, leathery and slightly aromatic. It is about 12mm thick, exfoliating in irregular flakes, soft and corky. It has a comparatively soft surface, free of warts though it is profusely lenticellate. It is gritty, bitter and warm or slightly pungent.   In theKumaun forests about 1,200 kg of the bark is annually collected. It is also reported to be collected in the forests of Andhra Pradesh [PharmacognAyurv Drugs, Ser. I, No. 2, 1953, 83-84; Ahuja, 11; Chopra et al, 1958, 268; Maithani, KhadiGramodyog, 1972-73, 19, 269; Hemadri, Nagarjun, 1976- 77, 20(2), 7].

The roots as well as the bark are used in the form of a decoction as a remedy in melancholia, intermittent fevers and palpitation of the heart. In pharmacological trials, as in the case of fruits, the root has exhibited anti-amoebic and hypoglycaemic properties. The roots contain auraptene, marmin, umbelliferone, and lupeol. The alcoholic extract of the root gave psoralen, xanthotoxin, dimethoxycoumarin, scopoletin, tembamide (C16H11N03, mp 156-57°), umbelliferone, marmesin, marmin, skimmianine, and a glycoside identified tentatively as skimmin (mp 208-09°). The presence of decursinol, an alkaloid haplopine (mp 175-77°), skimmianine, j-fagarine, marrnesin,   marmin,   xantho• toxin, umbelliferone and lupeol is also reported from the rootbark. The rootbark has been used particularly in intermittent fevers and also as a fish poison (Chopra et al,1958, 268; Dhar et al, loc. cit.; Dash &Bedi, ISi Bull, 1967,19, 393; Chatterjee&Chaudhary, J Indian chem Soc,1960, 37, 334; Shoeb et al, Phytochemistry, 1973, 12, 2071; Basu&Sen, ibid, 1974, 13, 2329; Maithani, loc. cit.).

The leaves

The young leaves and shoots are used as fodder for cattle, sheep and goats. Analysis of the leaves gave the following values (dry basis): crude protein, 15.13; ether extr, 1.54; crude fibre, 16.45; N-free extr, 52.83; ash, 14.05; calcium (CaO), 5.93; and phosphorus (P205),     0.69% (Sundararaj& Balasubramanyam,12; Fl Assam, I, 215; Kehar et al,Proc IndianSciCongr, 1956, pt III, 392).

The leaves are bitter and used as febrifuge. Poultice made of the leaves is used for ophthalmia and ulcers. Fresh leaves are used in West Bengal as a remedy for dropsy, and beriberi associated with weakness of heart, They contain biogenic stimulators which increase in quantity on storing at a low temperature in dark. The diluted leaf juice is used for catarrh. The leaf extract is reported to promote the growth of Candida albicans (Robin) Berkh., but is active in vitro against Escherichia coli and Micrococcus pyogenes var. aureus. In clinical trials, the fresh leaf extract is reported to have significantly   decreased   the requirement of circulatory stimulant (I-nor-adrenalin), and also reduced the period of convalescence   in patients with cholera   or choleraicdiarrhoea. Aqueous and alcoholic extracts of the leaves are reported to possess cardiotonic effect, like digitalis, on amphibian and mammalian hearts. The alkaloid aegeline, present in   the   leaves,   is   efficacious   in   asthma   [Fl Assam, I, 215; GuhaBakshi& Roy Chowdhury, Bull bot Soc Bengal, 1972, 26, 25; Dubey&Pandey, Indian Fmrs’ Dig, 1978, 11(9), 14; Indian J Pharm, 1958, 20, 255; 1961, 23, 346; Joshi &Magar, J sciindustr Res, 1952, llB, 261; Haravey, Indian J med Res, 1968, 56, 327].

The astringent rind of the ripe fruit and the bark are employed in dyeing and tanning. The bark contains total water-extractives, 11.58; tannin,   5.52%; tannin to non tannin ratio is 0.87. The mature bark contains marmesin, y-fagarine, umbelliferone, a waxy compound (mp 166- 66.5°), another compound (mp 195-96°), two alkaloids, alkaloid A (mp 172-73°) and alkaloid B (mp 136-37°), and B-sitosterol. Immature bark contains marmin, skimmianine and umbelliferone (Chopra et al, 1958, 267; Singh et al, Indian For, 1958, 84, 571; Chatterjee&Mitra, J AmerchemSoc, 1949, 71, 606; Chakraborty& Bose, J Indian chemSoc, 1956, 33, 905; Chatterjee&Chowdhary, Naturwissenchaften,   1955,   42,   412;   Chatterjee   et   al, Tetrahedron Lett, 1967,47l;ChemAbstr, 1973, 78, 1973).

The wood

The wood is light   yellow, and   strongly aromatic when   first exposed, later fading to yellowish   grey or greyish   white.   The   heartwood is Jacking. The wood islustrous with a smooth feel, without characteristic taste, heavy (spgr, 0.89; wt, 912 kg/cum), hard, straight-grained or occasionally curly-grained in the radial plane, even- and fine-textured. It is fairly easy to saw and to tum, and machines to fairly smooth surface. The timber is fairly durable if not in contact with the ground or in the exposed situation.   Graveyard tests indicate that it has a natural durability of 24-59 months. It is difficult to season and has a marked tendency towards surface cracking, cupping and twisting; if left in the log, it is liable   to   develop   a blue stain.   The   comparative suitability of bael timber, expressed as the percentages of the same properties of teak, are: wt, 130; strength as a beam, 80; stiffness as a beam, 80; suitability as post, 80; shock-resisting ability, 90; retention of shape, 60; shear, 165; and hardness, 185.

The timber is commonly used for making pestles of oil• and sugar-mills, for posts, shafts, axles and naves of carts. It is prized for sacrificial and religious fires. In Assam, it is used for carving, and in Gujarat for furniture. In Kerala, it is employed in making catamarans and fishing-boats but is susceptible to infestation by shipworms, like Bankia (Nausitora) madrasensi Nair and Teredo(Teredo) madrasensis Nair. The timber is suitable for manufacture of railway keys, brake blocks, tool-handles and helves, and agricultural implements. It is also useful for making pulp for manufacture of wrapping   paper   [Pearson   & Brown, I, 207; Fl Assam, I, 215; Lirnaye, Indian For Rec, NS, TimbMech, 1954, 1(2), 42; Sekhar&Gulati, ibid,1969, 2(1), 25; Talbot, I, 206; Witt, 38; Nair, J sciindustrRes, 1956, 15C, 81; Nair, J Bombay natHistSoc, 1956-57,54, 344; Kapadia, J Gujarat Res Soc, 1954, 16, 3; Sekhar&Bhartari, Indian For, i 964, 90, 76 7; Guba& Pant, ibid,1972, 98, 413].

Courtesy : The Wealth of India series , DravyaGuna by Dr. J.L.N. Sastry , InidanMateriaMedica by VaidyaBhagwan Dash , DravyaGuna by Dr. GnjanendraPandey