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Dry Fruit Herbs & Plants

Almonds

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Botanical Name: Prunus dulcis
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Amygdalus
Species: P. dulcis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Synonyms:   Prunus amygdalus, Amygdalus communis, Amygdalus dulcis

Almond is called: Lawz in Arabic Baadaam in Farsi and Urdu

Habitat : The tree is a native of southwest Asia. The domesticated form can ripen fruit as far north as the British Isles.

Etymology:
The word ‘almond’ comes from Old French almande or alemande, late Latin amandola, derived through a form amingdola from the Greek  (cf Amygdala), an almond. The al- for a- may be due to a confusion with the Arabic article al, the word having first dropped the a- as in the Italian form mandorla; the British pronunciation ah-mond and the modern Catalan ametlla and modern French amande show the true form of the word.

Description:

The almond is a deciduous tree, growing 4–10 m (13–33 ft) in height, with a trunk of up to 30 cm (12 in) in diameter. The young twigs are green at first, becoming purplish where exposed to sunlight, then grey in their second year. The leaves are 3–5 inches long,[3] with a serrated margin and a 2.5 cm (1 in) petiole. The flowers are white to pale pink, 3–5 cm (1–2 in) diameter with five petals, produced singly or in pairs and appearing before the leaves in early spring. Almond grows best in Mediterranean climates with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The optimal temperature for their growth is between 15 and 30 °C (59 and 86 °F) and the tree buds have a chilling requirement of between 300 and 600 hours below 7.2 °C (45.0 °F) to break dormancy.  The flowers are white or pale pink, 3.5 cm diameter with five petals, produced before the leaves in early spring.

Almonds begin bearing an economic crop in the third year after planting. Trees reach full bearing five to six years after planting. The fruit matures in the autumn, 7–8 months after flowering.

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The sweet fleshy outer covering of other members of Prunus, such as the plum and cherry, is replaced by a leathery coat called the hull, which contains inside a hard shell the edible kernel, commonly called a nut in culinary terms. However, in botanical terms, an almond is not a true nut. In botanical parlance, the reticulated hard stony shell is called an endocarp, and the fruit, or exocarp, is a drupe, having a downy outer coat. .

Origin and history
The wild form of domesticated almond grows in the Mediterranean region in parts of the Levant; almonds must first have been taken into cultivation in this region. The fruit of the wild forms contains glycoside amygdalin, “which becomes transformed into deadly Prussic acid (Hydrogen cyanide) after crushing, chewing, or any other injury to the seed.” Before cultivation and domestication occurred, wild almonds were harvested as food and doubtless were processed by leaching or roasting to remove their toxicity.

However, domesticated almonds are not toxic; Jared Diamond argues that a common genetic mutation causes an absence of glycoside amygdalin, and this mutant was grown by early farmers, “at first unintentionally in the garbage heaps and later intentionally in their orchards.” Zohary and Hopf believe that almonds were one of the earliest domesticated fruit-trees due to “the ability of the grower to raise attractive almonds from seed. Thus in spite of the fact that this plant does not lend itself to propagation from suckers or from cuttings, it could have been domesticated even before the introduction of grafting.”Domesticated almonds appear in the Early Bronze Age (3000–2000 BC) of the Near East, or possibly a little earlier. A well-known archaeological example of almond is the fruits found in Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt (c. 1325 BC), probably imported from the Levant.

Culinary uses:

While the almond is most often eaten on its own, raw or toasted, it is used in some dishes. It, along with other nuts, is often sprinkled over desserts, particularly sundaes and other ice cream based dishes. It is also used in making baklava and nougat. There is also almond butter, a spread similar to peanut butter, popular with peanut allergy sufferers and for its less salty taste. The young, developing fruit of the almond tree can also be eaten as a whole (“green almonds”), when it is still green and fleshy on the outside, and the inner shell has not yet hardened. The fruit is somewhat sour, and is available only from mid April to mid June; pickling or brining extends the fruit’s shelf life.

The sweet almond itself contains practically no carbohydrates and may therefore be made into flour for cakes and biscuits for low carbohydrate diets or for patients suffering from diabetes mellitus or any other form of glycosuria. A standard serving of almond flour, 1 cup, contains 20 grammes of carbohydrates, of which 10 g is dietary fibre, for a net of 10 g of carbohydrate per cup. This makes almond flour very desirable for use in cake and bread recipes by people on carbohydrate-restricted diets.

Almonds can be processed into a milk substitute simply called almond milk; the nut’s soft texture, mild flavour, and light colouring (when skinned) make for an efficient analog to dairy, and a soy-free choice, for lactose intolerant persons, vegans, and so on. Raw, blanched, and lightly toasted almonds all work well for different production techniques, some of which are very similar to that of soymilk and some of which actually use no heat, resulting in “raw milk” (see raw foodism).

Sweet almonds are used in marzipan, nougat, and macaroons, as well as other desserts. Almonds are a rich source of Vitamin E, containing 24 mg per 100 g They are also rich in monounsaturated fat, one of the two “good” fats responsible for lowering LDL cholesterol.

The Marcona variety of almond, which is shorter, rounder, sweeter, and more delicate in texture than other varieties, originated in Spain and is becoming popular in North America and other parts of the world Marcona almonds are traditionally served after being lightly fried in oil, and are also used by Spanish chefs to prepare a dessert called turrón.

In China, almonds are used in a popular dessert when they are mixed with milk and then served hot. In Indian cuisine, almonds are the base ingredient for pasanda-style curries.

Possible health benefits

Edgar Cayce, a man regarded as the father of American holistic medicine, also highly favored the almond. In his readings, Cayce often recommended that almonds be included in the diet. Claimed health benefits include improved complexion, improved movement of food through the colon and the prevention of cancer. Recent research associates inclusion of almonds in the diet with elevating the blood levels of high density lipoproteins and of lowering the levels of low density lipoproteins.

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In Ayurveda, the Indian System of Medicine, almond is considered a nutritive for brain and nervous system. It is said to induce high intellectual level and longevity. Almond oil is called Roghan Badam in both Ayurveda and Unani Tibb (the Greco-Persian System of Medicine). It is extracted by cold process and is considered a nutritive aphrodisiac both for massage and internal consumption. Recent studies have shown that the constituents of almond have anti-inflammatory, immunity boosting, and anti-hepatotoxicity effects

Fresh Sweet Almonds possess demulcent and nutrient properties, but as the outer brown skin sometimes causes irritation of the alimentary canal, they are blanched by removal of this skin when used for food. Though pleasant to the taste, their nutritive value is diminished unless well masticated, as they are difficult of digestion, and may in some cases induce nettlerash and feverishness. They have a special dietetic value, for besides containing about 20 per cent of proteids, they contain practically no starch, and are therefore often made into flour for cakes and biscuits for patients suffering from diabetes.

Sweet Almonds are used medicinally, the official preparations of the British Pharmacopoeia being Mistura Amygdalae, Pulvis Amygdalae Compositus and Almond Oil.

On expression they yield nearly half their weight in a bland fixed oil, which is employed medicinally for allaying acrid juices, softening and relaxing solids, and in bronchial diseases, in tickling coughs, hoarseness, costiveness, nephritic pains, etc.

When Almonds are pounded in water, the oil unites with the fluid, forming a milky juice – Almond Milk – a cooling, pleasant drink, which is prescribed as a diluent in acute diseases, and as a substitute for animal milk: an ounce of Almonds is sufficient for a quart of water, to which gum arabic is in most cases a useful addition. The pure oil mixed with a thick mucilage of gum arabic, forms a more permanent emulsion; one part of gum with an equal quantity of water being enough for four parts of oil. Almond emulsions possess in a certain degree the emollient qualities of the oil, and have this advantage over the pure oil, that they may be given in acute or inflammatory disorders without danger of the ill effects which the oil might sometimes produce by turning rancid. Sweet Almonds alone are employed in making emulsions, as the Bitter Almond imparts its peculiar taste when treated in this way.

Blanched and beaten into an emulsion with barley-water, Sweet Almonds are of great use in the stone, gravel, strangury and other disorders of the kidneys, bladder and biliary ducts.

By their oily character, Sweet Almonds sometimes give immediate relief in heartburn. For this, it is recommended to peel and eat six or eight Almonds.

Almonds are also useful in medicine for uniting substances with water. Castor oil is rendered palatable when rubbed up with pounded Almonds and some aromatic distilled water.

The fixed Oil of Almonds is extracted from both Bitter and Sweet Almonds. If intended for external use, it must, however, be prepared only from Sweet Almonds.

The seeds are ground in a mill after removing the reddish-brown powder adhering to them and then subjected to hydraulic pressure, the expressed oil being afterwards filtered and bleached, preferably by exposure to light.

Almond oil is a clear, pale yellow, odourless liquid, with a bland, nutty taste. It consists chiefly of Olein, with a small proportion of the Glyceride of Linolic Acid and other Glycerides, but contains no Stearin. It is thus very similar in composition to Olive Oil (for which it may be used as a pleasant substitute), but it is devoid of Chlorophyll, and usually contains a somewhat larger proportion of Olein than Olive Oil.

It is used in trade, as well as medicinally, being most valuable as a lubricant for the delicate works of watches, and is much employed as an ingredient in toilet soap, for its softening action on the skin. It forms a good remedy for chapped hands

‘The oil newly pressed out of Sweet Almonds is a mitigator of pain and all manner of aches, therefore it is good in pleurisy and colic. The oil of Almonds makes smooth the hands and face of delicate persons, and cleanseth the skin from all spots and pimples.’

The oil of both (Bitter and Sweet) cleanses the skin, it easeth pains of the chest, the temples being annointed therewith, and the oil with honey, powder of liquorice, oil of roses and white wax, makes a good ointment for dimness of sigh.

‘This kind of butter is made of Almonds with sugar and rose-water, which being eaten with violets is very wholesome and commodious for students, for it rejoiceth the heart and comforteth the brain, and qualifieth the heat of the liver.

RECIPES

–To make Almond Cake—(Seventeenth Century)
‘Take one pound of Jordan almonds, Blanch ym into cold water, and dry ym in a clean cloth: pick out these that are nought and rotten: then beat ym very fine in a stone mortar, puting in now and then a little rose water to keep ym from oyling: then put it out into a platter, and half a pound of loaf sugar beaten fine and mixt with ye almonds, ye back of a spoon, and set it on a chafing dish of coals, and let it stand till it be hott: and when it is cold then have ready six whites of eggs beaten with too spoonfuls of flower to a froth, and mix it well with ye almonds: bake ym on catt paper first done over with a feather dipt in sallet oyle.’

—Almond Butter—(Seventeenth Century)
‘Seeth a little French Barly with a whole mace and some anniseeds to sweeten but not to give any sensible tast: then blanch and beat the almonds with some of the clearest of the liquor to make the milke the thicker, and strain them, getting forth by often beating what milk you can: seeth the milke till it thicken and bee ready to rise, and turne it with the juice of a lemon or salt dissolved in rose water: spread the curd on a linnen cloath that the whey may run out, and let it hang till it leave dropping: then season the butter that is left with rose water, and sugar to your liking.’

—To make Almond Milk—(Seventeenth Century)
‘Take 3 pints of running water, a handfull of Raisins of the Sun stoned, halfe a handfull of Sorrell as much violet and strawberry leaves, halfe a handfull of the topps and flowers of burrage (borage), as much of Buglass, halfe a handfull of Endive, as much Succory, some Pauncys (Pansies), a little broad time and Orgamen (Marjoram), and a branch or two of Rosemary, lett all these boyle well together; then take a good handfull of French Barley, boyling it in three waters, put it to the rest, and lett them boyle till you think they are enough, then pour the liquor into a basin, and stampe the barley and reasons, straining them thereto; then take a quarter of a pound of Sweet Almonds, blanch them and pound them thrice, straining them to the other liquor; then season it with damask rosewater to your liking.’

—A Paste for ye Hands—(Seventeenth Century)
‘Take a pound of sun raysens, stone and take a pound of bitter Almonds, blanch ym and beat ym in stone morter, with a glass of sack take ye peel of one Lemond, boyle it tender; take a quart of milk, and a pint of Ale, and make therewith a Possett; take all ye Curd and putt it to ye Almonds: yn putt in ye Rayson: Beat all these till they come to a fine Past, and putt in a pott, and keep it for ye use.

Medicinal Uses:
*Almonds form an ideal tonic for your growing child. Soak 3-6 shelled almonds in warm water and than remove the skin. Grind them into paste, and mix it with milk. Add a teaspoon of honey. Feed your child daily. It can also be useful in adolescent girls with delayed puberty; crushed almonds, egg yolk, gingelly (til) powder, and a teaspoon of honey in milk will ensure good overall development during adolescence.

*An excellent food supplement in case of general debility and convalescence. Soak 12-15 shelled almonds in hot water and remove outer covering. Grind them into fine paste, and mix it with the buttermilk and mash a ripe banana in it. Strain it through a muslin cloth, add 4 teaspoons honey, and drink twice daily. Almond forms an ideal food for diabetics also as it contains little carbohydrates.

*Almonds increase libido and enhance general sexual performance in cases of frigidity. Grind a few almonds and 2-3 pinches of saffron and eat everyday for 40 days.

*Almonds are a good for constipation. Grind separately 5 teaspoons almonds and 5 teaspoons dried dates. Combine them and add 10 teaspoons honey.  Take 3 teaspoons of this mixture twice daily.

*In the case of head lice, grind 7-8 kernels with 1-2 teaspoons lime juice and apply on the scalp. Apply a little almond oil on the scalp regularly and massage.

*In the case of tooth ache and gum diseases, burn the shells of almonds, powder, and use as tooth powder.

*To get relief from psoriasis and allied skin troubles, powder a few almonds, boil and apply on affected areas and let it remain overnight.

*To improve skin complexion, mix equal quantities of almond oil and honey and apply to face. To protect from sunburn, apply the paste of almonds and milk cream along with coconut oil on exposed skin.

*In the case of insomnia, grind blanched almonds (8-10) along with khuskhus grass powder (1 teaspoon) and milk (half teacup) and smear the paste on palms and soles.

*To get relief from muscle sprains, mix equal parts of almond oil and garlic oil and massage over affected areas.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almonds

www.botanical.com

http://blog.tattvasherbs.com/tag/medicinal-uses-of-almonds/

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Amla or Amalaki (Indian Gooseberry)

Botanical Name :Phyllanthus emblica
Family: Phyllanthaceae
Tribe: Phyllantheae
Subtribe: Flueggeinae
Genus: Phyllanthus
Species: P. emblica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales
Synonyms:   Emblica officinalis
Common Names  :Amalaki, amla , Indian gooseberry, aamla, amali

Habitat : Phyllanthus emblica is native to  India, Nepal, Burma, China (South), Malesia to Australia (North), Thailand, Indochina, Laos (Khammouan).

Amla or Amloki is a tropical fruit which has tremendious medicinal importance.

Description:
Phyllanthus emblica tree is small to medium in size, reaching 8–18 m (26–59 ft) in height, with a crooked trunk and spreading branches. The branchlets are glabrous or finely pubescent, 10–20 cm (3.9–7.9 in) long, usually deciduous; the leaves are simple, subsessile and closely set along branchlets, light green, resembling pinnate leaves. The flowers are greenish-yellow. The fruit is nearly spherical, light greenish yellow, quite smooth and hard on appearance, with six vertical stripes or furrows.

Ripening in autumn, the berries are harvested by hand after climbing to upper branches bearing the fruits. The taste of Indian gooseberry is sour, bitter and astringent, and it is quite fibrous. In India, it is common to eat gooseberries steeped in salt water and turmeric to make the sour fruits palatable

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Edible Uses:
The amla fruit is eaten raw or cooked into various dishes. In Andhra Pradesh, tender varieties are used to prepare dal (a lentil preparation), and amle ka murabbah, a sweet dish indigenous to the northern part of India made by soaking the berries in sugar syrup until they are candied. It is traditionally consumed after meals. In Kerala Well Bed is lined with “Emblica Timber” to get clean and sweet water for drinking & cooking.

Amla or Emblica Officinalis is a natural, efficacious, an antioxidant with the richest natural source of Vitamin C. The fruit contains the highest amount of Vitamin C in natural form and cytokine like substances identified as zeatin, z. riboside, z. nucleotide.Its fruit is acrid, cooling, refrigerant, diuretic and laxative. The dried fruit is useful in hemorrhage, diarrhea and dysentery.It is antibacterial and its astringent properties prevent infection and help in the healing of ulcers. It is used as a laxative to relieve constipation in piles. It is used in the treatment of leukorrhea and artherosclerosis.

Amalaki is referred to in ancient text as the best medicine to prevent aging. It is a very strong rejuvenative which is believed to be the richest natural source ofantioxydant vitamin C, with up to 720 mg/100g of fresh pulp or up to 900 mg/100g of pressed juice (of a heat-stable form which does not lose its value through processing.) Although only one inch in diameter, the Amalaki fruit has the same antiscorbutic value as two oranges. Amalaki is also effective for respiratory complaints. The fruit juice and its sediment, and residue, have antioxidant properties due to Vitamin C content. Amalaki is a carminative and stomachic. It is used in Ayurveda as a cardiotonic, aphrodisiac, antipyretic, antidiabetic, cerebral and gastrointestinal tonic. It raises the total protein level and increases the body weight due to positive nitrogen balance. It has been found to have an anabolic effect.

Amla is highly nutritious and is an important dietary source of Vitamin C, minerals and amino acids. The edible fruit tissue contains protein concentration 3-fold and ascorbic acid concentration 160-fold compared to that of the apple. The fruit also contains considerably higher concentration of most minerals and amino acids than apples. Amla fruit ash contains chromium, 2.5 ; zinc, 4; and copper, 3 ppm. Presence of chromium is of therapeutic value in diabetes. Fruit also contains phyllemblin and curcuminoides. The fruit contained 482.14 units of superoxide dismutase/g fresh weight, and exhibited antisenescent activity. The seed oil contains 64.8% linolenic acid and closely resembles linseed oil. Not surprisingly, Amla’s reputation is supported by scientific studies confirming its immunity-boosting properties. Clinical studies were conducted to investigate the effect of Amalaki in amlapitta (gastritis syndrome). Amalaki churna was given in 20 cases in a dose of 3g., thrice a day for seven days. The drug was found effective in 85 per cent of cases. Cases of hyperchlorhydria with burning sensation in abdominal and cardiac regions and epigastric pain were benefited. (extracted from herbabprovider.com)

A compilation of applications for emblica fruits(Amla) was carried out by several Ayurvedic writers during the last 25 years. The main indications are:

  • Digestive system disorders: dyspepsia, gastritis, hyperacidity, constipation, colic, colitis, hemorrhoids
  • Bleeding disorders: bleeding hemorrhoids, hematuria, menorrhagia, bleeding gums, ulcerative colitis
  • Metabolic disorders: anemia, diabetes, gout
  • Lung disorders: cough, asthma
  • Aging disorders: osteoporosis, premature graying of hear, weak vision
  • Neurasthenia: fatigue, mental disorders, vertigo, palpitations

According to the Ayurvedic system of classification, the fruit has these properties (4):

Rasa (taste): sour, astringent are dominant, but fruit has five tastes, including sweet, bitter, and pungent
Veerya (nature): cooling
Vipaka (taste developed through digestion): sweet
Guna (qualities): light, dry
Doshas (effect on humors): pacifies all three doshas: vata, kapha, pitta, especially effective for pitta

Because of its cooling nature, amla is a common ingredient in treatments for a burning sensation anywhere in the body and for many types of inflammation and fever; these are manifestations of pitta (fire) agitation.

* Being an effective heamostatic agent, the juice of amla fruit taken twice a day with 250 mg giloy satva (extract of tinosporia cordifolia), an effective remedy for bleeding piles and non-specific epistaxis.

Amla juice, if given along with 500 mg of turmeric powder cures burning sensation of urine and also helps to allay recurring urinary tract infections.

* In viral jaundice during winter, amla juice can be taken after dissolving it with a little honey. It corrects liver functions, besides improving appetite.

* Generally, the dried fruit is put in water for a night or so, and its water content is a popular hair wash. Their paste is applied for relief from various skin diseases.

* The dried powder of amla fruit, if stirred daily with fresh juice of amla for 21 days, is known as amlaki rasayan. This fortified preparation is used both as medicine and tonic in the various phases of the diseases and also during convalescence period. Ancient acharyas have even described it as an anti-aging formula.

.Amla is also used in various other forms as murabbas, pickles and chutneys. Flowers, root and bark of its tree are also medicinal, but nowadays the twig of amla is also used for tanning and dyeing. Its timber is useful for miscellaneous domestic purposes, as it stands well under water and is used in making wells in rural areas. Due to its unlimited benefits and multipurpose uses, it seems that it is the kalpa vriksha of yore

The popularity of emblica fruits, especially for use in making Chyawanprash and Triphala, has led to the cultivation of amla trees, despite widespread distribution of the wild trees. A problem has arisen whereby collectors take a short-cut in collecting the fruits; instead of climbing the trees and carefully hand picking each fruit, large branches containing numerous fruits are lopped off, which can eventually kill the trees. As a result, some areas have been virtually denuded of these valuable trees. Government and non-government agencies in India are undertaking efforts to educate collectors to avoid damaging their economic future by such practices and is encouraging development of plantations of amla trees that are devoted specifically to yielding raw materials for medicinal products. In addition to the fruit pulps, the fruit seeds, and the tree’s leaves, branches, and bark can all be collected for production of health care and tanning products.

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Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with    your own health care provider.

Resources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phyllanthus_emblica

(extracted from itmonline.org/amla.htm and http://www.ayurvediccure.com/blog/2005/11/amla-amalaki.html)

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Coconut

Florida Keys Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera)
Florida Keys Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Botanical Name : Cocos nucifera .
Family: Arecaceae
Subfamily: Arecoideae
Genus: Cocos
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Arecales
Tribe: Cocoeae
Species: C. nucifera


Habitat
:The coconut has spread across much of the tropics, probably aided in many cases by seafaring people. Coconut fruit in the wild is light, buoyant and highly water resistant, and evolved to disperse significant distances via marine currents. Fruit collected from the sea as far north as Norway are viable. In the Hawaiian Islands, the coconut is regarded as a Polynesian introduction, first brought to the islands by early Polynesian voyagers from their homelands in Oceania. They are now almost ubiquitous between 26°N and 26°S except for the interiors of Africa and South America.

Description:
The coconut (Cocos nucifera) is a member of the family Arecaceae (palm family). It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos, and is a large palm, growing up to 30 m tall, with pinnate leaves 4–6 m long, and pinnae 60–90 cm long; old leaves break away cleanly, leaving the trunk smooth. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word.

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The coconut palm is grown throughout the tropics for decoration, as well as for its many culinary and non-culinary uses; virtually every part of the coconut palm can be utilized by humans in some manner. In cooler climates (but not less than USDA Zone 9), a similar palm, the queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana), is used in landscaping. Its fruits are very similar to the coconut, but much smaller. The queen palm was originally classified in the genus Cocos along with the coconut, but was later reclassified in Syagrus. A recently discovered palm, Beccariophoenix alfredii from Madagascar, is nearly identical to the coconut, and more so than the queen palm. It is cold-hardy, and produces a coconut lookalike in cooler areas.

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The flowers of the coconut palm are polygamomonoecious, with both male and female flowers in the same inflorescence. Flowering occurs continuously. Coconut palms are believed to be largely cross-pollinated, although some[which?] dwarf varieties are self-pollinating. The meat of the coconut is the edible endosperm, located on the inner surface of the shell. Inside the endosperm layer, coconuts contain an edible clear liquid that is sweet, salty, or both.

The Indian state of Kerala is known as the Land of coconuts. The name derives from “Kera” (the coconut tree) and “Alam” ( “place” or “earth”). Kerala has beaches fringed by coconut trees, a dense network of waterways, flanked by green palm groves and cultivated fields. Coconuts form a part of daily diet, the oil is used for cooking, coir is used for furnishing, decorating, etc.

Coconuts received the name from Portuguese explorers, the sailors of Vasco da Gama in India, who first brought them to Europe. The brown and hairy surface of coconuts reminded them of a ghost or witch called Coco. Before it was called nux indica, a name given by Marco Polo in 1280 while in Sumatra, taken from the Arabs who called it  jawz hind?. Both names translate to “Indian nut.” When coconuts arrived in England, they retained the coco name and nut was added.

You can find many ways to incorporate coconut oil into your daily diet, and you will read about the science behind the diet with links to the research that backs up the wonderful truth about this incredible oil.

Today thousands of people testify that Virgin Coconut Oil has tremendous health benefits, related to not only weight loss, but to such things as increased metabolism, helping sluggish thyroids, increased energy levels, killing Candida and yeast infections, improving cholesterol levels, clearing up skin infections, killing viruses, improving digestive health, and more! All across America health care practioners, including MDs, chiropractors, nurses, nutritionists, naturopaths, and others are seeing positive results in their patients or clients when using Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil.

Cultivation:The coconut palm thrives on sandy soils and is highly tolerant of salinity. It prefers areas with abundant sunlight and regular rainfall (150 cm to 250 cm annually), which makes colonizing shorelines of the tropics relatively straightforward.[7] Coconuts also need high humidity (70–80%+) for optimum growth, which is why they are rarely seen in areas with low humidity, like the Mediterranean, even where temperatures are high enough (regularly above 24°C or 75.2°F).

Coconut palms require warm conditions for successful growth, and are intolerant of cold weather. Optimum growth is with a mean annual temperature of 27 °C (81 °F), and growth is reduced below 21 °C (70 °F). Some seasonal variation is tolerated, with good growth where mean summer temperatures are between 28–37 °C (82–99 °F), and survival as long as winter temperatures are above 4–12 °C (39–54 °F); they will survive brief drops to 0 °C (32 °F). Severe frost is usually fatal, although they have been known to recover from temperatures of ?4 °C (24.8 °F). They may grow but not fruit properly in areas where there is not sufficient warmth, like Bermuda.

The conditions required for coconut trees to grow without any care are:

*mean daily temperature above 12-13 °C every day of the year
*50 year low temperature above freezing
*mean yearly rainfall above 1000 mm
*no or very little overhead canopy, since even small trees require a lot of sun
The main limiting factor is that most locations which satisfy the first three requirements do not satisfy the fourth, except near the coast where the sandy soil and salt spray limit the growth of most other trees (Palmtalk).

The range of the natural habitat of the coconut palm tree is delineated by the red line in map C1 to the right (based on information in Werth 1933, slightly modified by Niklas Jonsson).

Coconut trees are very hard to establish in dry climates, and cannot grow there without frequent irrigation; in drought conditions, the new leaves do not open well, and older leaves may become desiccated; fruit also tends to be shed.

Coconut palms are grown in more than 80 countries of the world, with a total production of 61 million tonnes per year.

Harvesting
In some parts of the world (Thailand and Malaysia), trained pig-tailed macaques are used to harvest coconuts. Training schools for pig-tailed macaques still exist both in southern Thailand, and in the Malaysian state of Kelantan.[11] Competitions are held each year to find the fastest harvester.

Use of Coconut

Once I heard some one to say Coconut is such an amazing fruit which can quench your thrust with its sweet water and meet your hunger with its good and neutritious pulp.Coconuts are a way of life for millions of people around the world today in tropical climates. Known as the “tree of life,” the wonderful fruit of the coconut palm is rich in specific fats that have incredible health benefits. Traditional tropical populations that consume a lot of coconut oil are seldom overweight, and traditionally have been free from the modern diseases that afflict most western cultures.

The Coconut Diet picks up where traditional diets fail. Low-fat diets don’t work. The body needs a proper balance of good fats, but in recent years traditional, healthy saturated fats have been substituted with harmful trans fatty acids in the US food industry. We now know that these harmful trans fatty acids that are found in most vegetable oils are not the healthy oils they were once thought to be, and they are considered one of the major culprits in modern diseases and obesity. The Coconut Diet replaces these highly refined harmful fats with one of the healthiest fats known to mankind: coconut oil.

The Coconut Diet is a not one specific diet plan, but a way of life! Most diet plans are temporary and tell you exactly which foods to eat, how much to eat, how to count calories or carbs, etc. Statistics prove that those starting diet plans are usually doomed to failure before they even start, because while they may temporarily lose weight on specific diet plans, they will almost always regain that weight and more as soon as they stop using the diet plan. We have seen traditional people in the tropics follow these dietary principles and live very long, healthy lives with coconut oil as the main dietary oil in their diet.

The dark, fibrous shell breaks, and fragrant coconut liquid begins to ooze out. Using a sharp knife, you separate the luscious white flesh from its shell; then grate it to make rich, delicious coconut milk. The milk will add delicate flavor and a smooth creamy texture to your lentil soup simmering on the stove.

But it is not only for its taste that the coconut is valued, says The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians. Coconut is considered a divine plant in the Vedic tradition. Whenever you perform a sacred ceremony like a yagya, a coconut must grace the occasion. Thus, the coconut enjoys the hallowed status of a select few herbs and fruits-like holy basil and amla-in the Vedic tradition.

What’s in a Coconut?
A recent research study from the Department of Biochemistry in the University of Kerala states that the fatty-acid composition of coconut changes as it grows. This change in composition is being studied by scientists in many places. But ayurvedic scholars knew many centuries ago that coconut has different properties at different stages of its life.

In the ayurvedic nighantus or classical texts which talk about raw materials or fruits, the coconut is actually divided into three types of coconuts —

  • Baal: tender or baby coconut
  • Madhyam: half-mature coconut
  • Pakva: fully mature coconut.

The Three Coconuts
Baal or Tender coconut: This type is 90 to 95 percent water. The liquid from this coconut is at its purest and most healing. It is considered the best for its cooling properties, for it is a proven pitta-pacifier. While unclogging the body’s channels, tender coconut water lubricates the dryness caused by ama. It repairs the gastro-intestinal tract, and its snigdha or sweet quality gives it a pranaropana-life-restoring-capacity.

Madhyam or Middle-aged coconut: In addition to water, the coconut at this stage has some soft pulp. Madhyam coconuts have less water than tender ones, but more water than mature coconuts. The water is slightly milky at this age. In the classical ayurvedic texts called Raj Nighantus, the middle-aged coconut is said to be the most nutritious. This type generally has more carbohydrates, protein, minerals, phosphorus, and Vitamins A, B, and C than the other two forms.

Mature or Pakva coconut: This type of coconut has firm “meat” or pulp, and very little water. Ancient ayurvedic scholar Bhav Mishra wrote that when a coconut becomes mature, it becomes heavy to digest, and it can also aggravate pitta or vata if the digestive agni of the individual is low. Mature coconuts can also build up toxic ama by interfering with digestion. If large quantities of this variety are consumed daily, then a person can suffer hyperacidity, and worse still, elevated cholesterol levels.

Therefore, people who have low agni or digestive power are not advised to eat mature coconut, unless it is combined with ingredients that balance its negative properties. In the south of India, for instance, a popular way to eat coconut is in the form of chutney. Combined with healthful ingredients like roasted chickpea flour, curry leaves, mustard seeds, and oil, the coconut is used in smaller quantities, and can actually be beneficial.

Click to read more about Thyroid & Coconut Oil

Click to read more about the benefits of Coconut oilÂ

Benefits of coconut oil

Details of coconut plant, use etc

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconut

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Ayurvedic Herbs & Plants

Power Of Triphala

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The most popular herbal remedies in the health food industry are those which promote bowel movement.Because we all know that if the bowel movement is regular and perfect, we get rid of many illness. The reason is quite simple since the most common problem of so many individuals is constipation and bowel irregularity. Consider how tremendously valuable a formula is that not only regulates bowel movement but at the same time does the following:.

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Amla , Bihara and Harada, the dust of three in middle

  • improves digestion,
  • reduces serum cholesterol,
  • improves circulation (potentiates adrenergic function),
  • contains 31% linoleic acid,
  • exerts a marked cardio-protective effect,
  • reduces high blood pressure,
  • improves liver function,
  • has proven anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties,
  • expectorant, hypotensive.

Sound like a panacea? Well, it is practically just that.

Triphala, as it is called, is the most popular Ayurvedic herbal formula of India, since it is an effective laxative which also supports the body’s strength. The constitution of vegetarian Hindus cannot tolerate harsh laxatives anymore than vegetarians in other countries. Because of its high nutritional value, Triphala uniquely cleanses and detoxifies at the deepest organic levels without depleting the body’s reserves. This makes it one of the most valuable herbal preparations in the world.

A popular folk saying in India is, “No mother? do not worry so long as you have Triphala.” The reason is that Indian people believe that triphala is able to care for the internal organs of the body as a mother cares for her children. Each of the three herbal fruits of tTriphala takes care of the body by gently promoting internal cleansing of all conditions of stagnation and excess while at the same time it improves digestion and assimilation.

Triphala combines both nutritional as well as blood and liver cleansing actions. It has little function as a demulcent or lubricating laxative, however. It possesses some anthroquinones which help stimulate bile flow and peristalsis. The nutritional aspect is more in the form of its high vitamin C content, the presence of linoleic oil and other important nutrients which it makes more of a tonic.

People who are in need of purgatives are those whose bowel irregularity is caused by liver and gall bladder congestion usually accompanied by some degree of blood toxins. Those in need of demulcent laxatives are those with intestinal dryness caused by a variety of metabolic factors including a nutritional deficiency as well as a condition of excess hypermetabolic energy. Triphala will prove useful for all kinds of constipation except that caused by a lack of vital energy or chi. Even for the latter type, it will not further deplete such an individual and can be made to work well if it is combined with other chi, blood or yang-warming tonic herbs such as ginseng for chi tonification, tang kuei for blood tonification and prepared aconite for yang tonification.

Herbal healing is largely a matter of strategy. One approach may emphasize tonification while another emphasizes elimination. The problem with overemphasizing tonification is that it can lead to further stagnation and congestion in an excess condition. Emphasizing elimination through the overuse of purgatives in an already deficient individual can further deplete the body’s store of minerals and essential B vitamins as well as imbalance beneficial intestinal micro-organisms. The result is weakness with a likely tendency towards chronic fatigue and anemia. Since the body is always simultaneously involved with maintaining and gaining strength through good nutrition as well as eliminating waste, Triphala is unique in that it is naturally able to support both vital processes simultaneously.

Because of its high nutritional content, Ayurvedic doctors generally do not regard Triphala as a mere laxative. Some of the scientific research and practical experience of people using it down through the ages has demonstrated that Triphala is an effective blood purifier that stimulates bile secretion as it detoxifies the liver, helps digestion and assimilation, and significantly reduces serum cholesterol and lipid levels throughout body. As a result, it is regarded as a kind of universal panacea and is the most commonly prescribed herbal formula.

The three fruits of Triphala (Harada, Amla and Bihara) each correspond to the “three humours” or “tridosha” of Indian Ayurvedic medicine. According to Ayurvedic theory, the body is composed of three doshas or humours. Vata is sometimes translated as “wind” which corresponds to the mind and nervous system. Its nature is dry, cold, light and activating. The second is pitta which is also translated as “fire” or “bile.” It is responsible for all metabolic transformations including the digestion and assimilation of food as well as assimilation and clarity of thought and understanding. The nature of pitta is primarily hot, moist and light. Kapha is sometimes translated as the “water” or “mucus” humour and is responsible for all anabolic or building functions such as the development of muscle and bone tissue. Its nature is cool, moist and heavy.

Harada, having a bitter flavor, is associated with the vata humour as well as the air and space elements. It treats imbalances and diseases of the vata humour. Harada possesses laxative, astringent, lubricant, antiparasitical, alterative, antispasmodic and nervine properties. It is therefore used to treat acute and chronic constipation, nervousness, anxiety and feelings of physical heaviness.

Among Tibetans, Harada is so highly revered for its purifying attributes that it is the small fruit that is depicted in the hands of the “medicine Buddha” in their sacred paintings or tankas. Of the three fruits, Harada is the most laxative and contains anthroquinones similar to those found in rhubarb and cascara.

Amla has a sour flavor and corresponds to the pitta humour and the fire element in Ayurvedic medicine. It is a cooling tonic, astringent, mildly laxative, alterative, antipyretic. It is used to treat fire imbalances that include ulcers, inflammation of the stomach, intestines, constipation, diarrhea, liver congestion, eruptions, infections and burning feelings throughout the body. In various studies, Amla has been shown to have mild anti-bacterial properties, pronounced expectorant , anti-viral and cardiotonic activity.

Amla is the highest natural known source of vitamin C. Having 20 times the vitamin C content of an orange, Amla is also uniquely heat stable. Even when subjected to prolonged high heat, as in the making of the Ayurvedic tonic formula called Chyavanprash, Amla, as the primary herb comprising 50% of the formula, hardly loses any of the vitamin C that is present when it is freshly harvested off the tree. The same is true of Amla that has been dried and kept for up to a year. This age and heat stable form of vitamin C in Amla is due to the presence of certain tannins that bind and inhibit its dissipation.

Bihara is astringent, tonic, digestive and anti-spasmodic. Its primary flavor is astringent and the secondary is sweet, bitter and pungent. It targets imbalances associated with the kapha or mucus humour, corresponding to the earth and water elements in Ayurvedic medicine. Specifically Bihara purifies and balances excess mucus, treats asthma, bronchiole conditions, allergies and hiccoughs.

Ama is a term denoting a substance associated in Ayurveda with chronic disease patterns and symptoms of aging. It is described as a kind of sticky buildup of material that clogs the circulatory channels. In many ways it is nearly identical to the accumulation of excess cholesterol and blood lipids described in the West. Both conditions seem to contribute to a wide variety of circulatory disorders ranging from senility, rheumatic conditions, cancer and heart disease. It is interesting that in Traditional Chinese Medicine there is also a pathological condition associated with the heart called “invisible mucus” that is similar to the descriptions of both excess cholesterol and ama in Ayurveda.

One of the body’s reactions to coping with stress is to increase the production of corticosteroids. The accumulation of these stress hormones can also contribute to the formation of cholesterol. Internal stress and the resultant buildup of cholesterol can be caused by the abuse of stimulants, spicy, hot foods such as garlic and cayenne, excessive aerobic exercise and repression of the emotions. It is interesting that an excess of some of those very substances and activities that lower cholesterol in some, when not utilized in a holistic, balanced manner, can act as a stimulant and add further stress that would precipitate the further accumulation of cholesterol. Triphala is one of two Ayurvedic formulations that are specific for eliminating Ama and cholesterol from the body.

Triphala is a completely balanced energetic formula, being neither too cold, nor too hot. When taken regularly over a long period, it gently effects the elimination and purification of Ama from the tissues of the entire body. The three fruits have been scientifically studied and confirm some of its known traditional benefits. These include the lowering of cholesterol, reducing high blood pressure, benefiting circulation, improving digestion and regulating elimination without causing any laxative dependency.

One Indian study reported by C.P. Thakur, demonstrated the enormous value and effectiveness of Amla, reducing serum, aortic and hepatic cholesterol in rabbits. In another study, extracts of Amla fruit were found to decrease serum free fatty acids and increase cardiac glycogen. This helps to prevent heart attacks by providing significantly greater protection and nourishment to the heart muscle.

Studies of the fruit of Bihara found that it contains up to 35% oil and 40% protein. The oil is used in soap making and by the poorer classes as a substitute cooking oil for ghee. The sweet smelling oil is 35% palmitic, 24% oleic and 31% linoleic. Linoleic oil is an essential fatty acid important for increasing HDL cholesterol, associated with a healthy state and reducing LDL cholesterol, considered to indicate a higher-than-average risk for developing coronary-heart disease.

One of numerous studies of Harada demonstrated its anti-vata or anti-spasmodic properties by the reduction of abnormal blood pressure as well as intestinal spasms. This confirms its traditional usefulness for heart conditions, spastic colon and other intestinal disorders.

With all the virtues of the three individual herbs, Triphala has many wide and varied uses as a therapeutic herbal food. Before considering pathological indications for which Triphala would be appropriate, we should never ignore the value of taking it on some regular basis whether once daily or once or twice a week simply for health maintenance. Triphala, having great nutritional properties, will help to prevent sickness.(extracted from www.planetherbs.com)

Triphala combined with guggul is an Ayurvedic herbal formula most used to reduce fat from the body.It is not then an appetite suppressant in fact it is an Ayurvedic supplement that can mobilize and eleminate fat from the body and encourage permanent metabolic changes.Triphala purifies the body of old ama trapped in the fat and guggul (Commiphora mukul) actually scrapes fat away from the other tissues.

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Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants

Wood apple or Bael Fruit

Botanical Name :Aegle marmelos .
Family: Rutaceae
Subfamily: Aurantioideae
Tribe: Clauseneae
Genus: Aegle
Species: A. marmelos
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Common Name :Bael, Belgiri, Bel, Bilva, Bilpatri, sriphal

Local Common Names in    South-East Asia:

* Burmese: Oushi
Indonesian: Maja
Khmer: Pniv
Lao: Maktum
Malay: pokok maja batu (tree)
Thai: Matuum

Indian Subcontinent
Assamese: Bael
Hindi: Sriphal

Urdu: Bael or sriphal
Oriya:Baela
Bengali: Bael

Kannada: bilva (sacred variety)
Konkani: gorakamli
Malayalam: koo-valam
Marathi: Kaveeth
Punjabi: Beel
Sanskrit : Billa

Sinhalese: Beli
Tamil: Vilvam
Telugu: Maredu
Sir Phal (old Hindi)

Habitat :Native to India and Pakistan. It has since spread to throughout South-east Asia. It is a gum-bearing tree.

It is is indigenous to 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 is cultivated throughout India, as well as in Sri Lanka, northern Malay Peninsula, Java in the Philippines and Fiji Islands

Very useful fruit for all kinds of stomach disorder

Flesh is eaten raw or processed into drinks.Fruit pulp is sometimes used as detergent and adhesive.Ripe pulp is used as a digestive aid and a very good laxative.Unripe pulp is used to treat diarrhea and dysentery.Fibre content of the pulp, whether ripen or green is very high. All other parts of the plant are used for a wide variety of medicinal purpose.Beal leafs are used by Hindus in their worship.Several Ayurvedic medicines are made from most of the parts of the plant.

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Plant Cultivation:

Medium sized tree to 40ft. The bael fruit is slow growing but very tough for a subtropical tree, surviving a wide temperature range from 20-120F. It easily withstands long periods of drought, which are needed for better fruit yields. It grows in most soil and climate types, and requires little care when established. Fruits take 10-12 months to ripen from flowering.
Propagation: Usually by seed. Seedling trees bear within 6+ years

Origin and Distribution:

Native to central and southern and northern India,Pakistan,Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Burma.But only in very few places perhaps it is commercially grown.

Several variety of wood apples grow in India, but two types are very popular, one is Yellow beal(Feronia limonia), sweet when ripen and the other is Kod beal(Banglapedia) sweet and sower when ripen. But both of them have tremendous medicinal value

Many pharmaceutical companies are now a days doing extensive research on this fruit and its plant.

USES :

Medicinal Uses: The fruit is much used in India as a liver and cardiac tonic, and, when unripe, as an astringent means of halting diarrhea and dysentery and effective treatment for hiccough, sore throat and diseases of the gums. The pulp is poulticed onto bites and stings of venomous insects, as is the powdered rind.

Juice of young leaves is mixed with milk and sugar candy and given as a remedy for biliousness and intestinal troubles of children. The powdered gum, mixed with honey, is given to overcome dysentery and diarrhea in children.

Oil derived from the crushed leaves is applied on itch and the leaf decoction is given to children as an aid to digestion. Leaves, bark, roots and fruit pulp are all used against snakebite. The spines are crushed with those of other trees and an infusion taken as a remedy for menorrhagia. The bark is chewed with that of Barringtonia and applied on venomous wounds.

The unripe fruits contain 0.015% stigmasterol. Leaves contain stigmasterol (0.012%) and bergapten (0.01%). The bark contains 0.016% marmesin. Root bark contains aurapten, bergapten, isopimpinellin and other coumarins.

Dirrhoea & Dysentery:– The half-ripe beal fruit is perhaps the most effective remedy for these diseases .

Respiratory Disorders:– A medicated oil prepared from beal leaves gives relief from recurrent cold and respiratory affections.A tea spoonful of this oil should be massaged into the scalp before a head bath.It’s regular use builds the resistance of cold and coughs.

Peptic Ulcer:- An infusion of beal leaves is an effective remedy for this disease.Beal leaves are reach in tannin which reduces inflammation and help in the healing of ulcers.

Earache:- The root of the beal tree is used as a domestic remedy to check several kinds of ear problem.A stiff piece of beal fruit is dipped in neam oil and lighted.The oil and the drips of the burning end is a highly effective medicine for problems related to ears.

PRECAUTIONS:The ripped beal fruit should not be taken regularly. It’s regular use produces atomy of the intensives and consequent flautence in the abdomen. The excessive use of beal fruit may produce sensation of heaviness in the stomach. The sherbet (Juice with water) made of beal fruit can produce heavyness in the stomach if it is taken hurriedly.

Food Uses:

The rind must be cracked with a hammer. The scooped-out pulp, though sticky, is eaten raw with or without sugar, or is blended with coconut milk and palm-sugar sirup and drunk as a beverage, or frozen as an ice cream. It is also used in chutneys and for making jelly and jam. The jelly is purple and much like that made from black currants.

A bottled nectar is made by diluting the pulp with water, passing through a pulper to remove seeds and fiber, further diluting, straining, and pasteurizing. A clear juice for blending with other fruit juices, has been obtained by clarifying the nectar with Pectinol R-10. Pulp sweetened with sirup of cane or palm sugar, has been canned and sterilized. The pulp can be freeze-dried for future use but it has not been satisfactorily dried by other methods.

Food Value Per 100 g of Edible Pulp*

Pulp………………… (ripe)…….. …Seeds
Moisture…………… 74.0%…….. 4.0%
Protein……………….. 8.00%…… 26.18%
Fat…………………….. 1.45%…… 27%
Carbohydrates…… 7.45%…… 35.49%
Ash…………………….. 5.0%…….. 5.03%
Calcium…………….. 0.17%……. 1.58%
Phosphorus………….. 0.08%……. 1.43%
Iron…………………….. 0.07%……. 0.03%
Tannins………………. 1.03%……. 0.08%
*According to analyses made in India.

The pulp represents 36% of the whole fruit. The pectin content of the pulp is 3 to 5% (16% yield on dry-weight basis). The seeds contain a bland, non-bitter, oil high in unsaturated fatty acids.

Other Uses:

Pectin: The pectin has potential for multiple uses in pectin-short India, but it is reddish and requires purification.

Rind:
The fruit shell is fashioned into snuffboxes and other small containers.

Gum: The trunk and branches exude a white, transparent gum especially following the rainy season. It is utilized as a substitute for, or adulterant of, gum arabic, and is also used in making artists’ watercolors, ink, dyes and varnish. It consists of 35.5% arabinose and xylose, 42.7% d-galactose, and traces of rhamnose and glucuronic acid.

Wood: The wood is yellow-gray or whitish, hard, heavy, durable, and valued for construction, pattern-making, agricultural implements, rollers for mills, carving, rulers, and other products. It also serves as fuel.

The heartwood contains ursolic acid and a flavanone glycoside, 7-methylporiol-b-D-xylopyranosyl-D-glucopyranoside.

Click to learn more about-> Wood apple tree[Aegle marmelos Corr. (Rutaceae)]

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Research:
Research has found the essential oil of the Bael tree to be effective against 21 types of bacteria. It is prescribed for smooth bowel movement to patients suffering from constipation and other gastrointestinal problems.

Research also indicates that unripe Bael fruit is effective in combating giardia and rotavirus. While unripe Bael fruit did not show antimicrobial properties, it did inhibit bacteria adherence to and invasion of the gut (i.e. the ability to infect the gut).

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/wood-apple.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bael

http://www.payer.de/manu/manu02036.htm

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