Betel leaf is the leaf of a climber plant from the piperaceae family of plants. It is a native of Asian countries -India and Indonesia. It requires a well-drained fertile soil to grow with compatible trees on which it climbs or in the alternate climbs on poles erected alongside.
In most of the regions in India, betel leaf is considered auspicious and extended to guests during ceremonies like marriage. Betel leaf is given with areca nut. It is generally chewed along with areca nut and flavored calcium carbonate (Chunnaambu) after each sumptuous food intake for easy digestion. Betel leaf is also chewed with ginger, nutmeg, mace, cardamom etc., as all of these are spices which increase digestion in addition to providing flavor and fragrance.
Nutritional Value of Betel Leaf
Betel leaf with a high percentage of water content (85%) contains protein, fat, dietary fiber, carbohydrates, and many vitamins and minerals. The leaf contains vitamin C and calcium, riboflavin, niacin, thiamine and carotene, all in small quantities. Betel leaf also contains some tannins and sugar.
The light yellow essential oil extracted from betel leaves give pleasant odor with a sharp pungent taste. Chavicol is a phenol present in the leaf which is an effective germicide.
Health Benefits of Betel Leaf
- Analgesic – Betel leaf is an amazing analgesic that offers relief from pain. It can be used to alleviate pain caused due to cuts, bruises, rashes, inflammation (internal as well as external), indigestion, constipation, etc. You can simply make a paste of betel leaf and apply to it the bruised area (meant for external application). You can also chew betel leaves and drink its juice to get relief from internal pain.
- Eases Constipation – Betel leaf contains the goodness of antioxidants. Antioxidants clear free radicals from the body. This restores the normal PH level of an upset stomach. As a result, constipation is eased. You can simply chew the betel leaf and ingest its juice on an empty stomach each day to get relief from constipation. Another way is mincing betel leaf with water and storing it overnight. Drink the stored water on an empty stomach the next day. For children suffering from hard stool problem, a suppository made of the stalk of betel leaf dipped in castor oil can be introduced into the rectum.
- Improves Digestion – Betel leaf is good for digestion. Its carminative, intestinal, anti-flatulent, and gastroprotective properties made chewing the leaf after a meal very popular. The essential oil can be massaged on the stomach as it helps in the secretion of digestive acids and gastric juices. For children suffering from indigestion, boil betel leaf with a little pepper in water. Strain it, and give two teaspoons of this mixture to children twice a day for an instant cure. Betel leaf thus increases the body’s metabolism. This triggers circulation and stimulates the intestines to absorb vital minerals and nutrients. Waste gets removed easily through better sphincter performance. Better sphincter performance is also an outcome of the stimulation caused by betel leaf.
- Reduces Gastric Pain – Betel leaf is essentially very helpful in improving GERD. It keeps the duodenum free of harmful free radicals and toxins. This further reduces acidity caused due to imbalanced PH levels of the stomach. Optimal PH levels ensure that bloating is eased. Foul gas passes through sphincter contraction and expansion. This ensures that gastric reflux is eased. Hence, the gastric pain subsides easily with constant use.
- Increases Hunger – Decreased appetite is also an outcome of an upset stomach. Normal pH levels trigger the hunger hormone to get secreted in optimal amounts. Betel leaf is highly capable of restoring the normal pH levels of the stomach by flushing out all the toxins. Hence, it increases appetite and promotes health.
- Promotes oral Health – The betel leaf helps to refresh breath, protects against germs, bacteria and other oral pathogens in the mouth. When you chew a betel leaf, it cleanses the mouth. It prevents tooth decay. It helps to strengthen the gums and reinforces the teeth. It prevents oral bleeding. This protective shield can be enhanced by gargling, morning and night, daily, with one drop of betel leaf oil mixed in one cup of warm water. You can also boil some betel leaf in water and use it as a rinse and gargle. It also helps to treat sore mouth.
- Treats Respiratory Problems – Betel leaf is very good for treating respiratory problems. It helps to treat a cough and cold. It also brings much relief to people suffering from chest and lung congestion and asthma. It even helps to cure breathing problems. You can apply mustard oil to the leaf, warm it and keep it on the chest to cure congestion. Alternatively, boil a few leaves with cardamom, cloves, cubeb and cinnamon in two cups of water. Reduce it up to 1 ½ cup. Strain and drink this concoction three times a day to find instant relief.
- Relieves Cough – Betel leaves are amazing ways of easing a constant cough. They come loaded with the goodness of antibiotics. These antibiotics ease phlegm and also reduce the inflammation caused due to constant coughing.
- Eases Bronchitis – One of the best betel leaf medicinal uses is that it also acts as an amazing remedy for bronchitis. It reduces inflammation all along the bronchial chord and lungs. This leads to dilated phlegm. Hence, the chest congestion is eased that further improves breathing.
- Antiseptic Benefits – Betel leaf is an amazing antiseptic as well. It is rich in polyphenols, especially chavicol. Thus, it offers dual protection from germs. Being a good antiseptic, it can be applied on cuts to kill germs. And since it is loaded with polyphenols, it is used for treating inflammation such as arthritis and orchitis. Local application of the betel leaf acts as a pain reliever and an anti-inflammatory agent.
- Antifungal Benefits – Betel leaf is also an amazing anti-fungal remedy. Fungal infections commonly occur on moist body parts. Thus, betel leaf makes an amazing natural remedy that prevents fungal infections naturally.
- Relief From Back Pain And Muscular Tensions – Betel leaf is a good remedy for people suffering from lower back pain or lumbago. A hot poultice of betel leaves or juice mixed with refined coconut oil applied on the loins gives good relief. Massaging the lower back with betel leaf oil and a carrier oil helps to ease the pain. It also provides relief from muscular tension pains, redness, and swelling.
- Treats Water Retention And Urination – Betel leaf is a good diuretic. Crush a betel leaf and extract its juice, mix it with a little-diluted milk and drink it. This helps to treat water retention in the body. It also helps in easing urination for people suffering from scanty or obstructed urination.
- Heals Wounds And Infection – Betel leaves medicinal properties to include the healing of wounds and infection. Crush a few leaves, extract the juice, and apply it to the wound or infection. Then put a betel leaf over it and wrap it with a bandage. The wound will heal within two days as it prevents the growth of destructive microbes.
- Improves Alertness – If you are feeling sluggish or suffering from nervous exhaustion, the betel leaf is a good remedy to improve alertness. A teaspoon of betel leaf juice with honey acts as a tonic. It can be taken twice a day. It improves mental functioning and treats debility. It also energizes and motivates people, thereby curing them of their sluggishness.
- Treats Headache – For people suffering from a headache, the betel leaf is a good cure. It has analgesic and cooling properties. You can apply the betel leaf on your forehead to ease headaches. You can also use betel leaf oil for the same.
- Acne Cure And Other Skin Disorders – Betel leaf is a good remedy for acne, black spots, etc. Its antimicrobial properties help to treat skin ulceration, allergies, itchiness, and body odor. Crush a few betel leaves and extract its juice, mix with a little turmeric and apply on the acne and allergies to find good relief. Betel leaves boiled in water can be used for washing face and skin to treat and prevent skin problems. Regular usage will help clear spots and acne within a few days. The powerful antimicrobial and antiseptic properties help to treat skin infections.
- Stops Earache – Earaches can be irritating and painful. The betel leaf juice or oil is a good remedy for this problem. Mix betel leaf juice or oil and coconut oil and put two drops in the ear. You will find instant relief.
- Vaginal Hygiene – For women suffering from vaginal itching and vaginal discharge, betel leaf is a good home remedy. The betel leaves are boiled and are used as a genital wash. In some countries, it is widely used by women after giving birth as it causes genital shrinkage.
- Prevents Body Odour – The betel leaf helps to prevent body odor. You can add the juice of betel leaf or oil in your bath water to remain fresh the whole day. You can also drink a concoction made of few betel leaves soaked in boiled water, with a spoon of white sugar added to it. It prevents the unpleasant smell of perspiration and menstruation
- Nose Bleed – Betel leaf is a good remedy for a nosebleed. Many young children suffer from it when they play outdoors in the hot sun. The betel leaf helps to stop the blood flow. Roll a fresh betel leaf and insert it in the nosebleed. It takes about 30 minutes to stop the blood flow.
- Treatment of Inflammation – The betel leaf oil has a phenol called chavicol, which has antiseptic properties. It is used for treating inflammation in serious conditions such as arthritis and orchitis.
- Refreshes Breath – The betel leaf oil helps to refresh breath, protects against germs, bacteria and other oral pathogens in the mouth. It prevents tooth decay. It helps to strengthen the gum and reinforces teeth. It prevents oral bleeding. This protective shield can be enhanced by gargling, morning and night, daily, with one drop of Betel leaf oil mixed in one cup of warm water.