Limonia fruit (Limonia acidissima), also known by the names wood apple, elephant apple, curd apple, pickle fruit and monkey fruit is a highly nutritious fruit appreciated for its various health benefits and medicinal properties. A native to India, this fruit is also found growing in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other South Asian countries. It is known by various names in India – some being – Kapittha (Sanskrit), kātbel, kaith, kavitā, dadhiphal, danthaath (Hindi), kavat (Marathi), Kadbel (Bengali), viḷāṅkāy maram, viḷā (Tamil), viḷārmatam, viḷāvu (Malayalam), Vellaga Pandu (Telegu), kotha (Gujarati). It is known in other countries by Belinggai, Gelinggai (Malay), Divul (Sinhalese), Ma-khwit (Thai), thanaka (Burmese). The fruit shares it name elephant apple with other fruit tree – Dillenia indica and wood apple with Bael fruit tree Aegle marmelos.
The brownish pulp enclosed in a tough shell can be consumed raw or can be used in making jams, pickles, jelly, chutneys, drinks and other sweet items. The Limonia tree happens to be one of the most common and religiously valued trees in many parts of India. All parts of the tree including the fruit, leaves, bark, and roots are found to have health and medicinal effects.
Nutritional value of Limonia
Limonia fruit is a good source of protein, carbohydrates and dietary fiber. It is rich in vitamins like vitamin C, B vitamins like thiamin, niacin and riboflavin and beta- carotene, which a precursor to vitamin A. Essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus and iron can be found in good amounts in this fruit. Various phytochemicals have been isolated from the plant including flavanoids, glycosides, saponins, tannins, coumarins and tyramine derivatives. Acidissimin is tyramine derivative present in the fruit which gives its species name.
Health benefits of Limonia
The numerous health benefits offered by Limonia can be attributed to the abundance of nutrients in this fruit. It has exceptional medicinal properties and hence is used as a natural remedy for various health problems and diseases.
Limonia aids digestion
If you are struggling with digestive problems, Limonia can be of great help to you. This fruit is popular as a remedy for curing digestive disorders. It helps in relieving chronic dysentery and in getting rid of intestinal worms. Feronia gum, a gum like material obtained from the branches and trunks of the Limonia tree is used in treating diarrhea and dysentery. This fruit has laxative properties and hence is useful in treating constipation. Limonia contains tannin, which helps in reducing inflammation and hence is often recommended for people suffering from piles and ulcers.
Limonia and diabetes
According to a study published in the “Indian Journal of Natural Products and Resources” (August 2008 issue), the extracts obtained from Limonia have the ability to lower glucose, which is extremely useful in the treatment of diabetes. This particular study which was carried out on diabetic male albino rats, found that the extract helped in lowering the levels of glucose in the rats by a significant amount. Feronia gum obtained from the branches and trunks of the wood apple tree have been found to help in balancing the amount of sugar in the blood stream and managing the insulin levels, thereby preventing huge spikes in the blood sugar levels.
Limonia for healthy heart
Limonia is known to protect your heart by lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure, two main culprits of cardiovascular problems. A decoction made from the roots of the Limonia tree is found to be useful in relieving palpitations of the heart.
The leaf extracts of Limonia have been found to be helpful in controlling cholesterol levels. Similar to the action of cholesterol drugs, they are effective in lowering the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). The extracts are also beneficial for managing the tissue lipid profiles and the levels of triglycerides as well.
Limonia as anti-inflammatory
Studies reveal that Limonia has anti-inflammatory properties and hence is useful in the treatment of conditions like arthritis and gout. The leaves of the Limonia tree have been found to be very effective in treating various inflammatory respiratory problems. By consuming these leaves, you can protect your body from conditions like sore throat, cold, coughs and other respiratory infections.
Limonia has anti-microbial properties
According to researchers, the extract obtained from Limonia has anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties that are helpful in preventing as well as treating various types of infections.
Limonia for men’s health
Studies have shown that the leaves of the Limonia tree have certain properties that can benefit the male reproductive system. Traditionally, the leaves are dried and powdered and this powder, when taken with equal parts of sugar is found to be helpful in treating condition likes premature ejaculation and impotence.
Limonia for women’s health
Limonia is considered to be very beneficial for women’s health as it has been found to help in preventing uterus cancer and breast cancer. It also helps in preventing complications that may occur after childbirth. Limonia raises the progesterone hormone levels in women, which is helpful in preventing infertility problems. Traditionally infusion made from the bark of the tree is used as remedy for menorrhagia.
Limonia and detoxification
The buildup of toxins can cause damages to your health and hence it is essential for detoxifying your body. The juice of Limonia mixed with sugar and warm water is considered to be effective in removing the harmful toxins from your body and in purifying blood.
Limonia boosts your energy
The nutrients present in Limonia improve your metabolism and helps in providing your body with additional energy. This helps in getting rid of fatigue and tiredness. During the summer heat, it is ideal to drink a glass of Limonia juice as it is extremely refreshing and provides a cooling effect to your body.
Limonia helps in preventing scurvy
Scurvy is a disease which is caused by the deficiency of vitamin C. Advanced stages of this disease can be life threatening and hence it is important to take measures to prevent its occurrence. The consumption of Limonia can help in preventing scurvy as it is a wonderful source of vitamin C.
Limonia and kidney health
Regular consumption of Limonia has been found to aid in preventing kidney diseases. It is considered to be a natural remedy to get rid of kidney stones. People with kidney problems are recommended to eat 100 grams of Limonia pulp daily to boost their kidney health. Diurectic properties of limonia extract have been reported in lab studies.
Limonia for liver protection
Methanolic extrat from root bark of the limonia tree has been found to have hepatoprotective potential. It protects liver from damage caused due to oxidation. It is thus helpful in protecting liver from damage from alcohol. Limonia extract was found effective in preventing damage to liver by carbon tetrachloride in rats.
Limonia for anemia
Limonia, being an excellent source of iron is beneficial in treating anemia. Drinking the juice of Limonia leaves is a great way to treat this condition.
Limonia for healthy eyes
Beta-carotene, a pigment that occurs naturally in plants is converted to vitamin A inside our body. This compound plays a key role in keeping your eyes healthy. Limonia is a rich source of beta-carotene and hence its consumption can lower the risk of eye problems like cataract and macular degeneration. The leaves of the Limonia tree are used as a remedy for eye diseases like red eye.
Benefits of Thanaka for skin and hair
In Myanmar, paste or powder from the bark of Limonia tree is known as Thanaka and used for various benefits to skin. It is applied to face to keep skin cool, smooth and free from dark spots and lesions. Thanaka has been used as cosmetic product for ages; even mention of it is found in ancient Burmese literature. Thanaka paste is applied by local women as sunscreen and protects damage to skin by sun. With anti-microbial property it is helpful in treating acne. It is strongly astringent and helps clean skin and remove excess oil from skin. Thanaka powder or paste, thanaka soap are available in market these days. Oil extracted from fruit rind offers good fragrance for hair.
Thanaka as mosquito repellant
Dried leaves of Limonoa tree are potent mosquito larvicide and useful in controlling growth of mosquitoes in Southeast Asia. Thanaka paste while used as cosmetics is also used to repel mosquitoes by local Burmese.
Some studies have reported analgesic and antipyretic potential of limonia furit and pulp extracts. The pulp is chewed and applied onto insect bites. Similarly leave are crushed and applied to relieve itchy skin.
Some home remedies using Limonia
Given below are a few remedies that make effective use of the benefits of Limonia to improve your health:
- For high blood pressure – Boil a cup of water and add one teaspoon of dried Limonia leaves to it. Leave it to cool and then strain the liquid. Drinking this liquid 3 times a day will help to lower high blood pressure.
- For increasing appetite – People with less appetite can increase their desire for food by having one teaspoon of dried and powdered Limonia leaves for about 3 days.
- For curing hemorrhoids – Mix together dried and powdered Limonia leaves, carom seeds, dried ginger, and black pepper in a glass of lukewarm water or buttermilk. Drinking this mixture is effective in treating hemorrhoids. Another remedy for hemorrhoids is to mix the pulp of unripe Limonia, 1 tsp of fennel and 1 tsp of dried ginger in 3 to 4 cups of water and drink this solution 3 or 4 times daily.
- For getting rid of intestinal worms – Consuming about 5 grams of dried and powdered pulp of Limonia twice a day is helpful in eliminating parasitic worms from your intestinal tract.
- For digestive problems – Combine a cup of Limonia pulp with jaggery and consume this mixture daily for about 2 months for curing indigestion, bowel problems and ulcers.
- For treating diarrhea – Unripe Limonia is a wonderful remedy if you are suffering from chronic diarrhea. Grind dried unripe Limonia fruit to make a fine powder. Take a teaspoonful of this powder along with warm water for 2 times a day to get relief from diarrhea.
- For getting rid of dandruff – Heat the peel of Limonia fruit in coconut oil and massage this oil thoroughly on to your scalp regularly to get rid of dandruff.
Limonia has been cultivated in India for as long as 4,000 years or even more and is highly prized for its extensive curative and medicinal features. It has been and still is a vital part of Ayurvedic medicine and is used as a remedy for various health problems, especially issues related to the digestive system. Limonia is a versatile fruit which offers a wide variety of benefits. Regular consumption of this fruit is bound to enhance your overall health and well being.Image Credits: Wikimedia - Seisfeldt, Wikimedia - J.M. Garg