Herbs > Ayurvedic Herbs > Betel Leaves
By Dr. Satish Kulkarni
The colloquial name for betel leaves is pan
and its botanical name is piper betle. Betel
leaves are known to Indian culture from ages. They
are specially included in all ritual performances.
Offering pansupari (betel morsel) to honor
guests is a common practice.
Betel leaves are not famous in the
western world because western food habits are much
different than that of eastern. In India and few
other Asian countries it is common practice to eat masala
pan ( betel leaves stuffed with sliced betelnut
and other spices) after food. Betel leaves are in
black list of allopathic doctors because many people
eat them with tobacco which is injurious to health.
One more hurdle is oral hygiene. Overeating of masala
pan is bad for oral hygiene. It can start dental
caries. It can be a cause of gingivitis, stomatitis,
leukoplakia i.e. formation of white spots or patches
on the mucous membrane or tongue and oral cancer. If
one will take due care of oral hygiene after eating
pan/masala pan etc, then betel leaves are a boon to
The betel plant is called nagvalli in
sanscrit language meaning serpentine growth.
The betel plant is a slender creeper which has
alternate, heart shaped, smooth, lustrous dark green
leaves with pointed apex. Leaves are edible part of
plant which is bitter in taste but aromatic. A
cultivated taste creates pan lovers but
overeating leads to addiction.
Betel leaf is in use from ancient times
as a digestive edible. It is anti-flatulent and mouth
freshener. It induces secretion of saliva and
digestive juices and generates peristaltic wave which
is very important for digestion. It helps digestive
tract in functioning well.
Betel leaf is considered aphrodisiac
i.e. an agent which stimulates sexual desire. It is a
common practice to offer masalapan to newly
married couple before retiring to bed. It adds to
love making and pleasures is a common belief.
It has a diuretic property also. Betel
leaf juice given with milk or honey helps in easing
One ayurvedic school has suggested use
of betel leaf in aches and pains, especially nervous
in origin. It has analgesic and cooling properties.
Consuming masalapan after food or after
energetic drinks gives relief from exhaustion, travel
fatigue or mental tensions. Applying betel leaf over
forehead can give instant relief from headache. Betel
leaf is a common household remedy used for arresting
unwanted foul smell secretions and oozing. In
trauma/contusion betel leaf can be a good solution
though of a temporary nature. Tying betel leaf with haldi
( turmeric) on minor injuries helps in stopping
bleedings. Applying juice of leaves on wound is a
common rural practice. In treatment of gout (a
metabolic disease marked by acute arthritis and
inflammation of great toe with/without other joints),
arthritis (pain+ inflammation of joints), orchitis
(pain + inflammation of testis) betel leaf can play a
good role. This herb is also an effective external
application for boils.
In rural areas it is used as a
suppository for paediatric hard stool problem. Here it
is stuffed with castor oil for better result.
In childhood and geriatric accumulated
cough syndrome, external use of lukewarm betel
leaf processed with muster oil helps in relieving
Juice of betel leaves with honey or gulkand
(rose pedal marmalade) is a good tonic.
In short betel leaves are considered as
general stimulant, aphrodisiac and vigor producing.
When chewed after food they act as breath
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