Betel leaves, also commonly referred to as ‘Paan leaves’, have been consumed by humans as far back as 400 BC. They’re most commonly chewed after a meal as a paan, which consists of a betel leaf filled with chopped betel nut. This is most likely because of their pleasant minty taste and one of the most notorious betel leaf benefits, which is that they can help aid digestion.
Betel leaf health benefits come from their rich nutrient content because they are packed with vitamins such as thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin C, and carotene. To get all of this nutrition, you can blend betel leaves into smoothies, make them into a powder for cooking, or chop them up into a paste.
The betel plant is a vine plant from the Piperaceae family. Its botanical name is Piper betle. Betel plants have gorgeous dark glossy green heart-shaped leaves that are cultivated in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the Philippine Islands and Indonesia.
In this blog, we are going to cover some of the best betel leaf health benefits on offer!
No.1 Betel Leaf Benefit: Aids Digestion
The most popular use of betel leaves is to chew them after a meal. Not only are betel leaves said to aid digestion, but they are also natural breath fresheners thanks to their extremely minty flavour. Marco Polo reported the chewing of paan to be common amongst Indian nobles and kings in the 13th century because of these particular betel leaf benefits.
It’s recommended that you chew betel leaves around 30 minutes after your meal for optimum digestive benefit. They work by releasing saliva which also stimulates the intestinal digestive enzymes which in turn aids digestion.
As it happens, betel leaves also contain a fair amount of essential nutrients. They are a good source of thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin C, and carotene.
No.2 Betel Leaf Benefit: Improves Oral Health
Another of the best betel leaf benefits is improved oral health. It is suggested that betel leaves contain tons of antimicrobial agents that may help to combat bad breath caused by oral bacteria. One of the components of betel leaves is hydroxychavicol, which kills bacteria and can help combat tooth decay.
The best method of consumption to get these betel leaf health benefits is by making the leaves into a paste and chewing it after meals. As well as protecting against bad breath and tooth decay, chewing betel leaf paste can also help relieve toothaches, swelling, gum pain and oral infections.
There is also some evidence to suggest that chewing betel leaves can help protect you against oral cancer. This is because they maintain the levels of ascorbic acid in saliva which helps prevent the carcinogens that lead to cancer. Boiling 10-12 betel leaves for a few minutes and then drinking the water as tea is also an easy way to consume them.
No.3 Betel Leaf Benefit: Anti-Diabetic Properties
Studies on the effects of betel leaves on animals have revealed that they can also have the potential to lower blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. This is one of the most incredible betel leaf health benefits, since anti-diabetic medicines often have side effects that impact the liver when used over a long period.
Betel leaves could potentially help diabetics to reduce blood sugar spikes without putting them at risk of further illnesses.
Betel leaves also contain antioxidants, so another useful betel leaf benefit is their ability to combat oxidative stress and reduce inflammation that is caused by high blood sugar.
The lowering of blood sugar levels can also potentially alleviate the symptoms experienced by most diabetics such as excessive urination and thirst.
No.4 Betel Leaf Benefit: Aids Wound Healing
You can also get some pretty amazing betel leaf benefits by using them externally. Their rich polyphenol content gives them antiseptic properties, making them effective at healing wounds and protecting against germs. You may also use betel leaves to treat fungal infections as they can help reduce the pain and treat the infection.
Creating a betel leaf paste and applying it directly to the wound can both accelerate the healing process and alleviate pain. Betel leaves are a great analgesic that provide instant pain relief when applied directly to wounds and then bandaged. They are perfect for use on cuts, rashes, and insect bites.
The healing properties of betel leaves make them common in Ayurveda for treating boils and reducing warts as they have the potential to shrink them without leaving scars.
Other Possible Betel Leaf Benefits
There are tons of other potential betel leaf health benefits, but as with everything in life, everyone’s body is different and will respond in different ways. Here are some more of the top betel leaf benefits that you can possibly enjoy from regularly consuming them:
They can help to prevent asthma attacks: Betel leaves have anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties that reduce the chances of asthma attacks by relieving congestion and ensuring proper airflow is maintained.
They can help reduce symptoms of depression: Betel leaves contain a compound that is a catecholamine stimulator that may help with the treatment of depression. Catecholamines are hormones that are released to combat physical or emotional stress, one example of a catecholamine is dopamine, which is often called ‘the happy hormone’.
How To Grow Betel Plants?
There’s no better way to get all of these amazing betel leaf benefits than to grow your own so that you have a constant supply!
The best environment for growing betel plants is in a deep container (as opposed to wide) that’s filled with slightly acidic, sandy soil. The soil is best kept moist but with good drainage. Betel plants should be watered approximately every 4 days. These little beauties prefer warmer conditions because of their origins in Asia, so you can keep them outside during the warmer months but it’s best to bring them inside when it’s cold.
We would recommend that you use an organic fertilizer that contains nitrogen, or you can use manure if you prefer to keep things uber natural! It’s best to fertilize your betel plants every couple of months during the growing season in the spring and summer months.
Keep your betel plant in filtered sunlight so that it gets lots of light but the leaves don’t get burned. Then in around 4-6 months, your betel plant will be ready for you to start harvesting, allowing you to get all of the wonderful betel leaf health benefits we’ve covered!
And There We Have It!
As you can see, betel leaves have a ton of potential benefits! We’ve covered some of the best ones but there are plenty of others that many people enjoy. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, everybody is different so not everyone will experience the same betel leaf benefits and some people may not notice any. That doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy them though as they have a delicious menthol flavour and they look pretty with their cute heart-shaped leaves!