I have lived on Maui for 18 years. When I moved to Wihe’e from West Maui 2 years ago, I found some unfamiliar plants on the property, such as Bilimbi, Soursop, Sweetsop, Jack Fruit, and Moringa Tree, etc. When I started researching those plants, I was amazed by discovering the numerous health benefits those plants provide us!
Bilimbi - this extraordinary looking plant was my very first “unfamiliar plant” that I encountered in my yard. My landlord told me that it’s a “pickle tree” – yeah, they do look exactly like bunch of pickles on the tree! The fruit is green/yellow in color, small cucumber shape, and the skin is waxy when it’s young, and when it gets ripe it becomes very thin and tender, which barely holds the juice of the fruit.
When I saw the abundant amount of fruit on the tree and ground, the first thing I thought was “can I eat them”??? Google says yes, so I tried one. It was very, very tart, sour, and I almost had tears in my eyes! I gave up eating the fresh fruit and went back to the research- burp! Oh my…excuse me!
Bilimbi fruit are used for cooking and as medicine in South East Asia and India. I found out Bilimbi juice is used for cough syrup. When I was coughing for a few days, I decided to try this syrup. Squeeze fresh bilimbi juice and add same amount of water and heat it in a pot on low heat for about 40 minutes, or until the juice gets a little thicker and reduced to about ¼ of amount. I mixed the syrup with Maui Bees Raw Honey and diluted with 5-10 parts of water. Most of the tart and sour flavor was gone through heating. It tastes like lemonade, and the slight acidic and citrusy liquid soothed my dry and itchy throat. It worked great! Bilimbi syrup stopped my cough immediately, for 3-4 hours!
Bilimbi contains Oxalic Acid- which is about same amount of acid that spinach has. Excessive amounts of internal consumption causes kidney issues and other health issues, but, it is just about same amount as spinach. Basically, Bilimbi syrup/juice is great source of Vitamin A and C.
How about Bilimbi for skin? Bilimbi has great nutrients for your skin, Vitamin A, C, Lignan – a good source of Omega-3, flavonoid – a great antioxidant, and amino acids – a collagen builder! Why not try it?
I had an experience of chemical peeling several years ago. I surfed, paddled and ran almost every day without sunscreens for long time, actually too long. My skin looked like 10 years older than my age at that time. I visited a dermatologist and tried chemical peeling. It was painful for 3-4 weeks, feeling burnt, irritation, had redness, my face gets extremely dried and peeled off constantly, like after a terrible sunburn. However, I loved the result! My brown spots were much lighter, my skin tone became close to even, my soft and smooth skin was back. My dermatologist recommended to keep using Obagi Nu Derm cosmetic line for after care to keep enhancing my skin turn overs - chemically. It worked. It took off the dead skins on my face and neck constantly - chemically.
I decided to give a shot to Bilimbi’s Acid Power. I used fresh juice for masks. It makes my face a little irritated, itchy, slight burning feel, redness for a short time from the fruit acid, like a very mild version of chemical peeling. After a couple times of trial, I got similar result as Obagi or Retinol Creams did. My old dead skin around eyes, cheekbones, mouth and chin/neck area came off, when I washed my face in a shower. My skin looked 1-2 tones brighter and less fine lines around eyes. It feels like took off one layer of skin from my face. Feel great!
I use my Bilimbi Mask about every other week, when I feel my skin gets dull. Bilimbi helps my skin turn-over naturally, not chemically! And, I don’t have to spend money for cosmetic line anymore. I am so lucky to have this miracle fruit in my backyard!
My experience may not be standard. Some people may get stronger reactions on their skin from the acid, or don’t get the same results as I did. If you are brave enough, please try it at your own risk. Or, let me know if you have any questions.
Bilimbi is interesting plants. I continue to research about this plant and want to find how to use it more, since I still have tons of fruits on the tree and ground. :)