There is no doubt that betel leaf is a ubiquitous thing in our country and families. Betel leaves have their benefits for the body, and they are also known to affect appetites. Occasionally, you might even want a meetha paan and indulge in its flavours. How safe is it for you, or can it have harmful side effects? Let’s find out.
What Is Betel Leaf?
Betal is a vine plant from the family Piperaceae. Its leaves are consumed with Areca nut or "supari" as Paan in India and several other Asian regions. The Betel leaf scientific name is Piper Betel.
Betel Leaf Scientific Name
The scientific name of betel leaf is Piper betle.
Betel Leaf Nutrition
In a 100g serving of Betel leaf, the nutrients are
- Calories: 61
- Fat: 1g
- Carbohydrates: 6g
- Fibre: 1.8g
- Protein: 3g
Besides being a good source of calcium, the leaves also contain vitamins like vitamin C, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, and riboflavin.
Betel Leaf Benefits
Here are some betel leaf health benefits for human metabolism:
1. Manages diabetes
Betel leaves are rich in antioxidants that combat oxidative stress in diabetic patients. This reduces blood glucose levels and thus acts as an anti-diabetic agent.
Also Read: Is Papaya Good for Diabetes? - Bodywise
2. Heals injuries and wounds
Betel leaves increase the protein content and wound contraction rate. Also, they reduce oxidative stress in the body. As a result, wounds, especially burn injuries, heal faster.
3. Decreases bad cholesterol levels in the body
Eugenol in betel leaves blocks the synthesis of cholesterol in the liver and absorption in the intestines. It also aids the catabolic process of Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Hence the risk of heart diseases and strokes.
4. Prevents asthma attacks
Antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties of betel leaves ensure uninterrupted flow of air through bronchitis. Thus the chances of asthma attacks are reduced.
5. Protects from gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria
Betel leaves keep disease-causing bacteria like E. coli, S. aureus, and P. aeruginosa away from the body because of their antimicrobial properties.
6. Helps in overcoming depression
Betel leaves have an aromatic phenolic compound that is considered a catecholamine stimulator. This hormone helps in treating symptoms of depression.
Betel Leaf Benefits For Skin
Face pack made from betel leaves provides following benefits to the skin:
- Nourishment: Make a face pack mixing fresh betel leaves with a tablespoon of Multani mitti, apply to your face, and wash after 15 minutes. Your skin will feel cool and hydrated.
- Prevents Acne: Anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties of paan helps in preventing acne. When mixed with turmeric for a face pack, it removes blackheads, reduces inflammation, and balances skin's pH.
- Skin Brightening: Vitamins in betel leaves brighten the face by removing dead skin cells. Make a paste of betel leaves, apply for a few minutes and then rinse off.
- Removes Excess Oil: Make a face mask by mixing 3 tablespoons of betel leaves, 2 tablespoons of honey and half a teaspoon of sea salt. Honey moisturizes the skin, whereas betel leaves unclog pores by removing excess oil.
Betel Leaf Benefits For Hair
Vitamin C in betel leaves helps in reducing hair fall, promoting hair growth, and preventing premature greying of hair. Here are some betel leaf uses for healthier and shinier hair:
- Mix with sesame, ginger, and coconut oil and apply on the scalp. Wash after an hour with a chemical-free shampoo.
- Make a paste of 5 betel leaves, 2 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 teaspoon castor oil, and 1 teaspoon water. Apply like a hair mask on the scalp and rinse off after an hour with a mild shampoo. Use a good quality conditioner too for better results.
- Make a hair mask by mixing leaves of betel, hibiscus, basil, and curry with coconut or sesame oil. Apply an hour before washing your hair, and then clean off with a shampoo.
You should use any of the above methods at least twice a month for effective results.
Betel Leaf For Weight Loss
Betel leaves aid in weight loss by increasing the metabolic rate, which ultimately leads to a reduction in body fat. You should eat one betel leaf with 5 peppercorns daily in the morning on an empty stomach to lose weight. Peppercorns have peperin and phytonutrients that make the digestive process easier for the body.
Betel Leaves For Cough
Betel leaves consumption helps in relieving acute chest congestion and cough & cold because of its antibiotic properties. They also reduce inflammation caused due to coughing.
Here's how you can consume betel leaves to ease out phlegm and treat cough:
- Tear one betel leaf into small pieces and put it in a pan with 8 peppercorns.
- Mix 1 clove, quarter tablespoon dry ginger powder and ⅛ tablespoon cumin seeds into the same pan.
- Mix half cup water and let the whole mixture boil on medium flame.
- When water is halved, strain out the concoction and squeeze till the last drop.
- Drink while it is warm twice a day for 3 days.
Betel Leaf Benefits in Pregnancy
Betel leaf nutrition content makes its consumption common amongst pregnant women. It helps in relieving constipation, aidsin digestion, and treats cough. Leaves are also applied to the breast to boost milk production.
Although the benefits of betel leaves during pregnancy are many, nutritionists suggest consuming betel leaves in moderation during pregnancy. This is because its tobacco content can negatively affect the foetus development and may even cause miscarriage.
How to Grow Betel Leaf
Here’s a detailed guide to growing betel leaf-
1. Growing habit
The herb grows up to 1 meter tall, so it is better to train it as a climber or a groundcover. Once it reaches a height sufficient to form creeping stems with heart-shaped leaves. If you crush the leaves, you will smell a mild scented scent, and the white flowers give off a mild peppery smell.
2. Planting and Propagation
There are two ways to grow betel leaf plants since it is hard to find betel leaf seeds. You can purchase the plant at your local nursery store, or you can propagate it from a cutting. Using the latter method, you should cut a stem of the betel leaf plant that is about 18 cm tall. Under the leaf node, make a 45-degree cut with a sharp knife.
You should then remove all the leaves from the stem except the two at the top. Once your cutting is ready, soak it in water and place it on the windowsill, where it will receive indirect sunlight. Keep the water fresh every few days. Depending on the depth of the pot or the ground, you can plant it.
For betel leaf to thrive, you will need acidic soil with sand and a bit of moisture. When growing this herb in a container, you will want a deep container rather than a wide one. Make sure that you make drainage holes in your pot to keep the soil well-drained and place the pot in a partially shady spot.
4. Caring for betel leaf
Betel leaf prefers a warm climate since it is native to Asia. It is better to bring plants indoors if the temperature falls below 41F degrees in winter. You should place it in a warm area, and for better results, you could use grow lights. A cold climate will cause the plant to go dormant and shed its leaves.
It is recommended that you feed your plant during the growing season every couple of months. It prefers organic fertiliser with nitrogen. You can also use manure or compost.
Harvest betel leaves four to six months after planting them. Pick the fresh aromatic leaves and leave the smaller ones to grow.
Betel Leaf Side Effects
Excess consumption of betel leaves could result in the following medical conditions:
- Oral cancer
- Addiction to paan
- Allergic reaction
- Irritated gums and stiffened jaws
- Mouth ulcers
Summing Up On Betel Leaf Benefits
Betel leaves, if consumed in moderation, helps in a lot of ways, such as aiding the digestion process, protecting from pathogens, treating constipation and cough, improving hair growth, and maintaining healthy skin. However, overconsumption, especially in pregnant women, could be harmful.
Can We Eat Betel Leaf Daily?
Betel leaf medicinal uses are numerous, and chewing on betel leaves every day for optimal health is a practice that dates back to ancient Ayurveda. So yes, you can eat these leaves every day.
Is Betel Leaf Cancerous?
Studies have shown that consuming betel leaf with or without tobacco may lead to oral cancer.
Can We Eat Betel Leaf in Empty Stomach?
If you suffer from constipation, eating betel leaf on an empty stomach is beneficial. It contains antioxidants that kill free radicals in the body. It helps restore pH balance to the body and treats stomach disorders.