Aegle marmelos: A phytochemical and phytopharmacological review

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Junaid Niazi1*, Yogita Bansal2, Narinderpal Kaur3
1 Asst.Prof., Bahra Institute of Pharmacy, Patiala, India
2 Assoc. Prof., Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Drug Research, Punjabi University, Patiala, India
3 Asst. Prof., Baddi University of Emerging Sciences and Technology, Baddi, India


Aegle marmelos
Corr., a deciduous aromatic tree has been recognized in traditional medicine for the treatment of different diseases and ailments of humans like dysentery, fever, diabetes, asthma, heart problems, ophthalmia, haemorrhoids urinary problems etc.  The plant has been reported to contain several phytoconstituents belonging to category of coumarins (like marmenol), alkaloids (like aegeline), glycosides, triterpenoids, anthraquinones, sterols and volatile oils. Several modern scientific studies have authenticated its anti diarrhoeal and gastro protective, anti diabetic, antibacterial, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti thyroid, anti histaminic, anti prolifertive and anti fertility activity. Clinical trials of a formulation Diarex (containing A. marmelos has shown positive results patients suffering from diarrhoea and dysentery. This review gives a bird’s eye view mainly on folkloric uses, phytochemistry and pharmacological actions of the plant.


Traditional  or indigenous drugs used by different ethnic groups of the world for treatment of disease have special significance of having been tested on long time scale .They are relatively safe easily available and affordable to masses. Traditional drugs have given important lead in drug research, resulting in the discovery of novel molecules. Artemisinine, theophylline, glycyretinic acid, silymarin for multi drug resistant malaria, bronchodialation, peptic ulcer treatment, hepatoprotection [1-3] have already been isolated from plants and sincere efforts for curing immunity related problems, AIDS, alzheimer’s disease and diabetes are on the way.

For variety of reasons, popularity of complimentary medicines is on increase. Traditional plant therapies coupled with dietary measures as prescribed Ayurvedic and other indigenous systems of medicines. In Australia and U.S., a sizeable population use at least one form of unconventional therapy including herbal medicines [4-5].

Aegle marmelosCorrea (syn. Feronia pellucida Roth, Cratarea marmelos L., vern. Bael, Vilwam, Kuvalam, Bengal Quince, Golden Apple, Stone Apple and Wood Apple) belonging to order Sapindales and family Rutaceae is a handsome deciduous aromatic tree growing upto 8.5  meters high and widely distributed throughout Indian peninsula along with Sri Lanka, Burma and Thailand. Stems and branches are light brown to green with axillary spines present on branches. Leaves, alternate, pale green, trifoliate; two lateral leaflets, sessile, ovate to lanceolate having reticulate pinnate venation. Flowers, greenish-white, sweetly scented,bisexual, actinomorphic, ebracteate, hypogynous, stalked; calyx, gamosepalous, five-lobed, pubescent, light green; corolla, polypetalous with 5 petals, imbricate, leathery, pale yellow from above and green from beneath; androceium , polyandrous, numerous, basifixed; gynoceium, light green, having capitate stigma and terminal style. Fruit, amphiscara (berry), yellowish green with small dots on outer surface, oblong to globose, 5.3-7.3cm in diameter, 77.2 g in weight; pulp, yellow and mucilaginous, pulp of driedfruit retains yellow colour; rind woody, 4.5 mm thick. Seeds, numerous, embedded in pulp, oblong, compressed, white, having cotton like hairs on their outer surface [6-7].

It has been valued in Ayurveda and Unani system of medicines for possessing variety of therapeutic properties. Present review will help to bridge traditional claims and modern therapy on A. marmelos.

As per Charaka (1500 B.C.) bael is the best appreciated drug by the inhabitants of India. Aegle marmelos is one of the most important medicinal plants of India, Burma and Sri Lanka and in Unani system of medication [8]. The unripe dried fruits are astringent, digestive and stomachic and are prescribed to cure diarrhoea and dysentery while ripe fruits are good and simple cure for dyspepsia. Pulp of unripe fruits soaked in gingelly oil for a week is useful in removing peculiar burning sensation in soles [6]. The fruits are used in chronic diarrhoea and dysentery particularly in case of patients having diarrhoea alternating with spells of constipation. Sweet drink prepared from fruits is known to produce a soothing effect on patients recovering from bacillary dysentery. Unripe and half ripe fruits improve appetite and digestion [9]. Fruit pulp marmalade is used as prevention in cholera epidemics, piles and relieves colic flatulence [10]. Fruit is also regarded as a good dietary supplement [11]. Leaves and ripe fruits are prescribed in treatment of diarrhoeas, dysenteries, diabetes mellitus, upper respiratory tract infections and heart ailments [12-14].Leaves are regarded as a good remedy for cholera, dropsy and beriberi associated with weakness of heart [15]. Leaf decoction is said to cure asthma [13-14], effective in treating ophthalmia and other eye infections and is used as expectorant and febrifuge [10]. Inhalation of leaf juice prescribed for migraine [16]. Bark and root decoctions are used as a remedy for hypochondriasis, melancholia, palpitation and intermittent fever [12-14] [17-18]. The root bark extract of the plant has been reported to be beneficial to cure intermittent fever, mental diseases, pericarditis and angina pectoris [15] and with cumin in milk it is valued as a remedy for the poverty of seminal fluid [10].

A chemical literature survey of A. marmelos revealed that various plant parts such as root, bark, leaves, heartwood and fruits have number of secondary metabolites belonging to various classes of natural products.

Methanol extract of leaves of A. marmelos was reported to contain coumarin glycosides like marmenol (7-geranyloxycoumarin), scopoletin (7-hydroxy-6-methoxy coumarin) along with several other known compounds like praealtin D, N-p-cis and trans-coumaryltyramaine, montainine, trans- cinnamic acid, valencic acid, betulinic acid, 4-methoxybenzoic acid and rutaretin [19-23]. An alkaloid named (R)-(-) Aegeline, a β-hydroxyamide has been isolated from A. marmelos leaves along with various other alkaloids like N-2-[4-(3’,3’-dimethylallyloxy)phenyl]ethylcinnamide, N-2-hydroxy-2-[4-(3’,3’dimethylallyloxy)phenyl]ethylcinnamide (marmeline),                 N-2-hydroxy-2-(4-hydroxyphenyl)ethylcinnamide and N-4-methoxy styrylcinnamide [24-25]. Alloimperatorin (a furocoumarin) and o-isopentenylhalfordinol are also been reported from leaf extract [26]. Limonene (82.4%) and (Z)-β-ocimene (5.1%) along with p- Menth-1-en-3β, 5β-diol are the major volatile oils isolated from the A. marmelos leaves [27-28].

Methanol extract of stem bark of A. marmelos is reported to contain S-(+)-marmesin (furanocoumarin) [29] while ethanol extract of stem bark on further fractionation with petroleum ether, carbon tetrachloride, ethyl acetate and methanol yield butylated hydroxylanisole, butyl-p-tolyl sulphate, 3-methyl-4-chromanone, 5,6-dimethoxy-1-indanone, palmitic acid, methyl linoleate and 5-methoxypsoralen [30].

Methanol extract of fruit has been reported to contain a furocoumarin namely, imperatorin along with o-(3,3-dimethylallyl)halofordinol N-2-ethoxy-2-(4-phenyl)ethylcinnamide, [32] marmeline, aegeline, alloimperitorin, xanthotaxol [31-33], o-methylhalfordinol [26], umbelliferone, marmelosin, ascorbic acid and essential oils  [34-36]. Fruit pulp had neutral polysaccharides containing arabinose, galactose and glucose in molar ratio 2:3:14 [37]. Bael gum polysaccharide contains d-galactose (71%), l-arabinose (12.5%), l-rhamnose (6.5%) and d-galactouronic acid (7%) [38]. Seeds have been reported to contain carbohydrates (38.5%) consisting of glucose galactose, rhamnose and arabinose and proteins (66.6%) along with a newly reported pyranocoumarin, luvangentin [39-40]. Roots are known to possess auroptene, umbelliferone, marmine, lupeol and skimmanine [36].

Structures of phytoconstituents are listed in Figure 1.



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