Have you ever noticed a bright green flower-shaped segmented fruit growing on the trees? The fruit is called Bilimbi in English. The scientific name of bilimbi is Averrhoa bilimbi, which belongs to the Oxalidaceae family. It is known as blimblim in French, mimbro in Spanish, belimbing asam in Malay and kaling pring in Thai. Bililmbi fruits are often eaten raw, used to make wine, vinegar and pickles and substitute for tamarind in dishes and also be used as a flavouring agent. In Thailand, Malaya and Singapore, bilimbi is very common. It is frequently grown in gardens across the plains of India and thrives in all the country’s warmest regions. Bilimbi or Averrhoa bilimbi, is a folk remedy for many ailments.1,2 Let us have a look at some of them.
Bilimbi may contain bioactive compounds like amino acids, citric acid, cyanidin–3–O–h–D–glucoside, phenolics and sugars.2 Additionally, ripened fruit of bilimbi may contain the following nutritional components:
|Nutritional Component||Value (per 100 g)*|
|Oxalic acid||8.45-10.8 mg|
|Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)||60.95 mg|
|Vitamin B1 (thiamine)||0.02 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)||0.04 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (niacin)||0.302 mg|
|Vitamin A||105 UI|
Table 1: Nutritional value of ripened bilimbi fruit1
*unit is per 100g unless otherwise stated
Several studies have shown that bilimbi may have the following properties:3
Some of the potential uses of bilimbi are:
Bilimbi may help to improve liver health. The results of a study by Nagmoti et al. in 2010 suggested a significant increase in the activity of liver enzymes (SGOT, SGPT, ALP) and serum bilirubin levels. Increased levels of these enzymes may cause various liver diseases.6 However, further studies are required to check if bilimbi can protect the liver. Therefore, you must consult your doctor if you have any symptoms of liver disease.
Leaf extracts of bilimbi may have anticancer properties against breast cancer. Bioactive compounds like terpenoids, flavonoids, tannins and saponins may kill cancer-causing cells (apoptosis and programmed cell death) and inhibit the growth of cancer-causing cells (proliferation).7 However, further studies are required to check if bilimbi may help in the case of breast cancer. Cancer is a dangerous disease; therefore, you must consult your doctor if you suspect any symptoms of cancer instead of self-medicating.
According to the study conducted in 2004 by Tan et al., bilimbi may be beneficial in the case of diabetes mellitus. Bilimbi may reduce blood glucose levels.8 However, further studies are required to check if bilimbi can be beneficial in the case of diabetes. Therefore, you must check your blood sugar levels regularly and consult your doctor in case of abnormal blood glucose levels instead of relying on bilimbi fruit.
Bilimbi may reduce bad cholesterol (LDL, VLDL) and increase good cholesterol levels (HDL) due to bioactive compounds like terpenoids, tannins, phenols and flavonoids. This was shown in a study conducted by Mohan et al. in 2016.9 However; more studies are required to check if bilimbi can be beneficial for lowering cholesterol levels. Therefore, you must check your cholesterol levels regularly and consult your doctor in case of high cholesterol levels. Bilimbi is in no way a solution to high cholesterol.
Flavonoids present in bilimbi may be responsible for lowering blood pressure, according to the studies conducted by Rafida et al. in 2021. The flavonoids may dilate the blood vessels and decrease the resistance to blood flow.10 However, further studies are required to check if bilimbi is beneficial for lowering blood pressure. Therefore, you must check your blood pressure regularly and consult your doctor in case of high blood pressure.
Though studies show the benefits of bilimbi in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of bilimbi on human health.
You can use bilimbi in the following ways:
You must consult a qualified doctor before taking bilimbi in large quantities or any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor
A case study of a 65 year-old woman by Chiang et al. in 2020 showed that bilimbi might hamper the nervous system and show the following symptoms: 12
If you notice any reaction to consuming bilimbi, seek immediate medical attention. Consult your ayurvedic physician who has prescribed it to you; they will be able to identify the cause and treat it effectively.
The following precautions should be taken before eating bilimbi:
It is advised to consult your doctor before consuming bilimbi if you have any pre-existing diseases.
Since not much data is available on the drug interactions with Bilimbi, let us know about the drug interactions of the fruits belonging to the genus of Bilimbi (Averrhoa).
You must consult your doctor before consuming bilimbi if you are on any other medication.
Bilimbi may dilate the blood vessels and decrease the resistance to blood flow. However, you must check your blood pressure regularly and consult your doctor in case of high blood pressure.10
Billimbi may cause uncontrollable hiccups, mental confusion and seizures.12 In case you notice a reaction after consuming bilimbi, seek immediate medical attention.
People with chronic kidney disease should be careful before consuming bilimbi.13 Due to high levels of oxalates, bilimbi may lead to kidney stones.12 You should consult your doctor before consuming bilimbi if you have any pre-existing diseases like kidney disorders.
Fresh fruit of bilimbi can be eaten raw. Pounded fresh bilimbi leaves yield juice through squeezing, which is provided once daily.11 You must consult a qualified doctor before taking bilimbi in large quantities and do not replace your ongoing treatment.
Bilimbi may be beneficial in the case of diabetes mellitus as it may reduce blood glucose levels.8 However, you must check your blood sugar levels regularly and consult your doctor in case of abnormal blood glucose levels.
Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.