11 Surprising Benefits of Wood Apple

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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The wood apple (Limonia acidissima) is a fruit with many names, including elephant apple, and monkey fruit. In some parts of the world, this fruit is called elephant apple because it is a favorite food of elephants, while in other areas, it gets the name wood apple because of its hard wooden shell. It is considered sacred by Hindus and is widely cultivated and eaten in India.

The wood apple is thought to include health benefits, such as relief from constipation, indigestion, peptic ulcer, piles, and diarrhea. It also has other benefits including immune-boosting properties, inflammatory condition reductions, and is thought to help prevent sexual dysfunctions.

The wood apple tree is native to India but is also found in Sri Lanka, Thailand, and other regions in the southern part of Asia. The tree can grow up to 30 feet in height and the edible fruits are 5-9 centimeters in diameter. Their shells are tough, and the inside consists of a brownish pulp and small white seeds. The pulp can be eaten raw, but it is popularly scooped out and frozen or made into jam. It can also be mixed with coconut milk for a delicious, beverage, or frozen into an ice cream.

Loosely scattered wood apples on a cloth

Loose woodapples Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutritional Value of Wood Apples

The array of health benefits attributed to wood apples are mainly due to their nutrients, vitamins, and organic compounds, including tannins, calcium, phosphorous, fiber, protein, and iron.

Health Benefits of Wood Apples

This fruit has great medicinal value for those who consume it. Let’s take a closer look at the extensive health benefits of this interesting fruit.

Aid in Digestion

Wood apple is a good remedy for digestive disorders. The trunk and branches of wood apple trees contain a gum-like substance called ‘Feronia gum’. It is commonly used to provide relief from diarrhea and dysentery. Wood apple fruit is also recommended for people with peptic ulcers or piles since wood apple tree leaves contain tannin, which is known to reduce inflammation. The laxative property of wood apple also helps to avoid constipation and the subsequent, pain, discomfort and associated health risks of that condition. These, combined with antifungal and antiparasitic activities, make this fruit ideal for enhancing digestive health.

Purify the Blood

As little as 50 mg of wood apple fruit juice mixed with warm water and sugar is recommended for assistance with the removal of toxins that may cause extensive damage to the body. This reduces the strain on the liver and kidneys, which are the normal lines of defense against toxins.

Effective for Ear Aches

The root of the wood apple tree is thought to be a home remedy for the management and treatment of ear conditions and pain.

Prevent Scurvy

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) deficiency causes scurvy, a potentially life-threatening condition. Since this fruit is rich in vitamin C, it can mitigate the development of scurvy. This high level of vitamin C also increases the strength and potency of the immune system, thereby protecting people who consume wood apples from a variety of microbial and viral infections.

Control Diabetes

It is thought that the ‘feronia gum’, in the trunk and branches of the wood apple tree, counteracts diabetes by reducing the severity of the condition. It may also help in managing the flow, secretion, and balance of sugars in the bloodstream. By managing the insulin and glucose levels, wood apple has implications for the prevention of spikes and plunges that can be dangerous to diabetics. More research is needed on this topic, but initial results and positive.

Relieves Minor Respiratory Problems

The leaves of the wood apple tree help people avoid chronic or recurring colds and related respiratory conditions. It is also considered to help in providing relief from sore throat and cough. The leaves help in loosening phlegm and eliminating the build-up in the respiratory system.

Boost Energy

One hundred grams of wood apple pulp provides 140 calories, and the high protein content also means that your body can heal faster and the muscles can grow stronger, further boosting the energy.

Good for Kidney

Regular consumption of wood apple is recommended for people with kidney disorders. Considering the detoxifying powers of wood apples, the kidney can be protected from many diseases.


In Ayurvedic treatments, all parts of the wood apple plant are used to when trying to provide relief from snakebites.

Protect Against Malaria

The pulp of wood apple fruits has also been used as a cosmetic component by women in the Thai-Myanmar border region. This area is frequently affected by dengue and malaria, and studies have suggested that applying the mixture of this pulp and repellents on the skin of pregnant women may be beneficial in protecting them against malaria.

Apart from the warm sensation upon application of this mix, the wood apple repellents are neutral and non-irritating. Studies are underway to ascertain the mechanisms behind the benefits of this mixture on malaria.

How to Select and Eat Wood Apples

Wood apple can be consumed as ripe fruits or in the form of juice. A ripe wood apple is sweet and can be used for making a tasty drink known as wood apple milk. The ripe fruit is also consumed as custard with sugar or honey in certain cultures. The raw fruit is sour to taste and is used to make chutney, while the leaves of this tree are used as a salad ingredient.

Word of Caution: Like any other food/fruits, we have to take some precautions when consuming the wood apple. Excessive consumption of wood apple causes flatulence in the abdomen, so people with gastric troubles should be careful. Also, if you have never consumed wood apple before, try a small amount to check how your body reacts. Anything can be an allergen, so it is better to start small and work your way up to larger portions once you know that it compliments your body.

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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