Betel leaf plays a major role in the culture of India. The use of betel leaves in India date back to 400 BC. The health benefits of betel leaves hold a major role in the ancient books of Ayurvedic medicine.
Betel leaf contains many local names like vethalai in Tamil, Tamalapaaku in Telugu and Paan Ka Patha in Hindi.
The betel leaf will be heart-shaped and green in colour. It is placed under the Piperaceae family. The leaf is usually consumed with Areca nuts, and the scientific name of the betel leaf is Piper Betel.
Initially, betel leaf was used as a mouth freshener. However, there many health benefits apart from being used as a mouth freshener. According to NCBI, betel leaf contains various properties like cardiovascular, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory/immunomodulatory, anti-ulcer, hepato-protective and anti-infective. Additionally, it is used as a stimulant, and an antiseptic and the areca nut is considered an aphrodisiac.
The habit of chewing betel leaves changed over time. Initially, betel leaves were chewed with areca nut and mineral-slaked slime. Catechu (kattha), spices and other flavouring agents were added. The practice of chewing betel leaf has subsequently reduced.
Nutritional value of betel leaf
Betel leaf contains a decent amount of essential nutrients, and 100 grams of betel leaf contains these nutrients.
|Vitamin B 1
Betel leaf benefits
Chewing betel leaf can have certain benefits. Betel leaves can be directly chewed, and the extract can be consumed.
Betel leaves are considered as a powerhouse of antioxidants. Antioxidants help to fight free radicals effectively. Ayurvedic medicine claims that consuming betel leaves regularly can help relieve constipation.
Betel leaves also help to restore the normal pH levels in the body and helps with an upset stomach.
To relieve constipation, soak betel leaves in water overnight. Drink the water in the morning on an empty stomach. This will help to ease bowel movement and improves gut health.
Indians have a habit of chewing betel leaf after a heavy meal. The reason is to improve digestion, and betel leaf contains properties like carminative and anti-flatulence. These properties help relieve gastrointestinal problems and stimulate the intestine to absorb vital nutrients and minerals.
Reduces respiratory issues
Betel leaf is widely used to treat problems related to respiratory issues. They have used to treat cough and cold. Betel leaves are also used to relieve and cure the symptoms of lung and chest congestion and asthma.
To relieve chest congestion, apply mustard oil to the betel leaf and warm it. Place the leaf on the chest and leave it for some time.
To get relief from cough,
- Boil a few leaves in two cups of water.
- Add cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and pepper.
- Boil it until the essence gets in the water, and when the boiling water reduces to one cup, remove it from the heat.
- Consume this concoction twice a day to relieve breathing issues and congestion.
Antiseptic and anti-fungal properties
Betel leaf is rich in polyphenols which help with the antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. It contains an organic compound called chavicol that offers dual protection from germs.
It also contains anti-fungal properties that can provide instant relief from fungal infections. Apply some crushed betel leaf or betel leaf paste in the affected region. This will help kill the fungal infection and relieve these infections.
Maintains oral health
The benefit of chewing betel leaf is it helps with the bad breath and improves oral health. Betel leaf contains antimicrobial activity that effectively combats the bacteria that live in the mouth and leads to the growth of such bacteria.
It can also help with problems related to cavities, tooth decay and plaques. Try chewing a few betel leaves after meals to get rid of bad odour. This will help fight the bad bacteria in the gut that causes bad odour, swelling, gum pain and other oral infections.
Relieves joint pain
Warm a bunch of betel leaves and tie them tightly around the knees or the affected joints. This can significantly reduce the inflammation and pain in the affected part and alleviate the symptoms.
Betel leaf can lower the spike in blood glucose levels. It also contains antioxidant properties that help combat oxidative stress and lowers inflammation. People with type 2 Diabetes can chew betel leaf, which will help reduce their blood glucose level.
Betel leaf oil is also beneficial for people with Diabetes. According to NCBI, an animal study was conducted with a group of diabetic rats. These rats were orally administered with betel leaf for 30 days.
The results demonstrated a significant reduction of blood glucose level, glycosylated haemoglobin and decreased liver-6-glucose phosphatase and fructose activity. Additionally, there was less or no unintentional weight loss in the betel leaf-treated diabetic rats.
Betel leaves contain phytochemical agents, which fights cancer effectively. However, when betel leaf is consumed with tobacco and betel nut, it can be a causative agent for cancer.
Betel leaf can be consumed alone, and it contains properties like antioxidants, anti-proliferative and anti-mutagenic. These properties protect the body from developing cancer and prevent the cancer cells from proliferating.
Betel leaf is used for stimulating the central nervous system. It contains certain aromatic compounds that stimulate the release of catecholamines— a class of aromatic amines or neurotransmitters like dopamine and adrenaline.
These aromatic compounds help improve the mood and well-being of a person. Chewing betel leaf alone can help with the symptoms of depression. For people hooked up with medication, chewing betel leaf can be a good herbal remedy.
Betel leaf is commonly chewed as a mouth freshener. They are used to wrap various components like paan, tobacco, sugar syrup and betel nut.
These are considered modern variations of street variabilities to enhance flavour. Paan is also a flavouring agent. However, when combined with tobacco and hookas, it can cause a negative effect.
However, betel leaf contains various health benefits, as it can effectively fight and prevent cancer, relieves congestion, manages Diabetes, maintains oral health and relieves joint pain.
However, people with a slow heartbeat should not consume betel as it can lower their heart rate. People with heart diseases should also avoid consuming betel leaves as it can increase the risk of heart attacks.
When should I eat betel leaves?
Betel leaves are usually chewed after meals as it helps with digestion and improves oral health.
Who should not eat betel leaf?
People with heart disease should avoid consuming betel leaves.
Can we eat betel leaf daily?
According to research, consuming one betel leaf a day helps flush the toxins out of the body. Also consuming, betel leaves restore the stomach’s pH levels and increases appetite.
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