Betel leaf has been utilized in religious rituals in India since ancient times because it is considered auspicious. Additionally, there are several valuable benefits of betel leaf. It is a heart-shaped, deep green leaf belonging to the Piperaceae family. “Piper Betle” is the scientific name for betel leaf. Betel leaves are also called “paan leaves” in India, where they are consumed by about 15-20 million people.
Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, East Africa, the Philippines, and Indonesia all grow betel leaves. They can be found in Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, and Karnataka, among other places in India. Betel leaf, also known as “Paan ka Patta,” is a mouth refresher with a strong, pungent, and aromatic flavor.
Water makes up to 85-90% of betel leaf, giving it a high moisture content and low-calorie count. Betel leaves provide only 44 calories per 100 grams. It has a fat content of 0.4-1% and a protein content of 3-3.5%, making it a low-fat and moderate protein source.
Betel leaf contains moderate levels of vital nutrients such as iodine (3.4 mcg/ 100 g), potassium (1.1-4.6%), vitamin A (1.9-2.9 mg/ 100 g), vitamin B1 (13-70 mcg/ 100 g), vitamin B2 (1.9-30 mcg/ 100 g), and nicotinic acid (0.63-0.89 mg/ 100 g).
Betel leaves also include essential oils and chemical components such as betel oil and chavicol, betelphenol, eugenol, terpene, and camphene, in addition to these nutrients. If you are wondering how such a rich nutrient profile of betel leaf helps us, here are some amazing benefits of betel leaf for you to know.
Betel Leaf Benefits
1. Anti-diabetic Agent
Various anti-diabetic medications have long-term adverse effects on the liver and kidneys. However, dried betel leaf powder has been shown in studies to lower blood glucose levels in people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus, and this herbal therapy has no known negative effects.
Diabetes patients experience elevated amounts of oxidative stress as a result of their high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia). High blood glucose levels weaken the antioxidant defense system and make antioxidant enzymes inactive. Betel leaf is high in antioxidants, which help to prevent oxidative stress by scavenging free radicals. Thus, betel leaf benefits in the control of diabetes mellitus by decreasing excessive blood glucose levels.
2. Betel leaves lower cholesterol levels
Heart disease and stroke are linked to high cholesterol levels. And, as per studies, Betel leaf helps lower high levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol. It also aids in the production of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
The presence of eugenol, a natural antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals, is responsible for the betel leaf’s lipid-lowering impact. Eugenol also suppresses cholesterol manufacture in the liver and lowers fat absorption in the gut. It accelerates the breakdown of “bad” LDL cholesterol. High amounts of cholesterol and triglycerides are transported from the bloodstream to the liver and subsequently removed as bile acids.
3. Anti-cancer Agent
When combined with cigarettes and betel nuts, betel consumption raises the risk of mouth cancer. However, phenolic chemicals found in betel leaf have antioxidant, anti-mutagenic, anti-proliferative, and anti-bacterial activities. Betel leaves have been shown to have chemopreventive properties against a variety of cancers in studies.
Furthermore, betel leaves contain a variety of phytochemicals (plant chemicals that promote health) that have cancer-fighting properties. The pathogenesis of cancer is heavily influenced by oxidative stress. Betel leaves are high in antioxidants, which help to neutralize free radicals and combat oxidative stress. It also stops cancer cells from growing and spreading to other parts of the body.
4. Antimicrobial Agent
The essential oil in betel leaves has antibacterial properties against pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Betel leaves also contain phenolics and phytochemicals, which aid to defend against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.
5. Aids in the healing of wounds
Various studies have revealed the healing properties of betel leaves. Additionally, betel leaf extract is known to have an excellent healing effect on burn injuries. Wound healing is slowed when oxidative stress levels are high. Antioxidants are abundant in betel leaf. These antioxidants help to minimize oxidative stress and speed-up wound healing.
6. Helps with asthma treatment
Asthma is classified as an inflammatory disease. Because betel leaf has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities, it can help with asthma treatment and management. Histamine is an inflammatory mediator involved in the development of asthma.
Histamine produces bronchoconstriction, a symptom of asthma in which smooth muscle contractions narrow the airways in the lungs. Betel leaf’s anti-histaminic effect has been linked to a reduction in bronchial asthma cases in studies. Furthermore, betel leaf oil and polyphenols have anti-inflammatory effects, which aid in the reduction of asthma cases.
7. Assists with Depression
Depression is a psychiatric condition that affects about 5% of the world’s population. According to research, natural remedies such as chewing betel leaves have been utilized for CNS (central nervous system) stimulant action since ancient times, in addition to antidepressant medicines.
Chewing betel leaves also causes a sense of well-being, happiness, and increased alertness. Betel leaves also contain aromatic phenolic chemicals that induce catecholamine release. There is a significant correlation between low catecholamine levels in the body and an increased risk of depression. As a result, eating betel leaves is a simple technique to avoid depression.
Some More Betel Leaf Benefits
8. Maintains oral health
Dental infections and dental caries are caused by pathogens found in the mouth. Chewing betel leaves has been shown to reduce bacterial growth and activity in studies. Betel leaf is widely used as a mouth freshener and can be used to treat oral and dental infections instead of pharmaceuticals.
Acids react with bacteria in your tooth biofilm when sugary meals and beverages are ingested. By suppressing the acid produced by salivary bacteria, the betel leaf protects against tooth caries.
9. Anti-Inflammatory Activity
Chewing betel leaf is an ancient traditional therapy for curing stomach ulcers, according to studies. Ulcer-causing agents damage the gut’s inner lining, diminish gastric mucus production, and increase oxidative stress levels. Betel leaves reduce the volume of gastric acid output, limit the formation of gastric ulcers, and promote the synthesis of gastric mucus (an important factor in protecting against ulcer-causing substances).
Betel leaf phytochemicals and polyphenols have antioxidant and anti-ulcerogenic effects. They defend the gut’s inner layer against toxins and other irritants, reducing total damage.
Frequently asked questions about betel leaf:
1. How is betel leaf used?
Betel leaf is typically used in many ways. One can either chew it or consume it as a paste. It can also be consumed as betel tea. Many people across the world use it as a mouth freshener, especially after a meal. Betel leaf also helps digestion if taken after the food. It is used in traditional medicine, which cures various ailments. Not just ailments, it is also used in many beauty treatments.
2. What is betel leaf good for?
Betel leaf has many benefits. It helps in digestion, promotes oral hygiene, reduces inflammation, prevents cancer, acts as an appetite suppressant and helps with weight loss. Because of its anti-aging properties, it is also used in many traditional beauty treatments. In case you want to know more, scroll up and you will find many detailed benefits of betel leaf.
3. What are the side effects of betel leaf?
It is important to note that excessive consumption of betel leaf is unhealthy. It can lead to various side effects such as mouth irritation, dental problems, and addiction. As per some research, it can also increase heart rate and blood pressure. The excessive use of Betel Leaf can also disturb sleep patterns. As per various experts, the use of betel leaf is not recommended during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
4. Is betel leaf safe to consume?
While excessive use can cause many side effects, consuming betel leaf in moderation and under the guidance of a healthcare expert is safe. Please note that consumption of betel leaf in excess or during pregnancy and breastfeeding is not recommended.
5. Are there any interactions with medications?
If you are taking any medications, it is better to consult your healthcare expert. As per various studies, betel leaf may interact with certain medications like blood thinners, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants.
6. Can betel leaf be used for medicinal purposes?
As there is a lack of scientific evidence to substantiate betel leaf’s medicinal purpose, we would suggest you seek consultation from your health care expert before consuming betel leaf for medicinal purposes.
7. What is the best way to store betel leaf?
The best way to store betel leaf is to keep it in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. As far as Dried betel leaves are concerned, you can store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
8. How long can betel leaf last?
Betel leaves are best used fresh. But if you want to store them for 2-3 days, wrap them in newspaper and store them in the refrigerator. But, if you want to store them for up to 11 days, store them in 300 gauge polyethylene irrespective of the ventilation used and treated with Ascorbic acid 100 ppm.
9. Is Betel leaf good for the heart?
As per many pieces of research, betel leaf lowers cholesterol and protects the heart.
10. Is betel leaf good for the liver?
Many studies have shown that betel chewing leads to an increased risk for various health complications including liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.
11. Is Betel leaf good for joint pain?
Yes, as per many studies, Betel leaf is good for relieving joint pain. Being rich in anti-inflammatory chemicals, Betel Leaf can significantly reduce joint pain, especially in cases of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.