Wood apple (curd fruit, elephant apple and monkey fruit in English, bilin, kait, kalbel and kavitha in Hindi) is a woody fruit native of India. It grows in dry places of South East Asia and Malaysia. The pulp is made or added to chutneys, jams and jellies. The tree of wood apple grows up to the height of 25-30 meters consisting of spiny ridged bark. Branches bear alternate leathery minutely toothed leaves. It bears bisexual dull red flowers on the top of branches, followed by greyish white woody fruit contains edible brown pulp with small seeds.
Part used: Fruit, bark (contains gum), leaves.
Chemical composition: Carbohydrates, protein, citric acid, small amount of vitamin C, fat, minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and iron, tannins and mucilage. Unripe fruit contains stigma sterol.
Medical benefits: The pulp of wood apple is sweetish and astringent. It is beneficial for treating liver and heart problems and used as cardio tonic to treat hepatitis and jaundice. The pulp can be made into a delicious and healthy drink with coconut milk. Externally, pulp is used as poultice for wounds, bites and stings of venomous animals. All parts of the plant such as leaves, bark, roots and fruits are beneficial against snake bite. Unripe fruit is beneficial for diarrhoea, dysentery and sore throat. The juice of young leaves with milk helps reduce gastrointestinal problems. Oil from crushed leaves can be applied to treat skin problems such as rashes, itching and irritation. The bark is chewed and applied over snake bite. Powdered gum with honey is beneficial for diarrhoea and dysentery.
Contraindications: Pregnant women should take professional advice before using this herb.