How Effective is a Betel Leaf?
In India, since ancient ages, betel leaf is utilized in religious rituals as it is believed to be auspicious. The leaf is a heart-shaped, dark green colored leaf belonging to the family of Piperaceae. The botanical name of betel leaf is “Piper beetle.”
From using it in religious ceremonies and prayers to consuming it in the form of a ‘paan,’ betel leaves are loaded with many healing and curative health benefits. The leaves are evidently packed with vitamins like vitamin C (ascorbic acid), thiamine, carotene, riboflavin, and niacin and are a wonderful calcium source. Since betel leaves are aromatic creepers, you can easily grow them as ornamental plants in your home garden and accrue the maximum their health benefits alongside.
With over a hundred (100) known varieties, betel leaf still finds its place in Chinese and Indian medicine. Extract from the leaves contain compounds that are helpful in managing diabetes, cancer, and dental infections.
Nutritional Composition of Betel Leaves
Almost 85-90% of betel leaf is water, which means it is high in moisture content and low in calorie count. About 100g of the leaves contain just 44 calories. It has about 3-3.5% protein and 0.4-1% fat, making it a moderate source of protein.
01. May Help Manage Diabetes
Red betel leaves help to reduce blood glucose levels. They contain an active molecule known as tannins (high in anti-diabetic properties). Betel alkaloids can lower blood sugar levels by limiting glucose absorption in the intestine.
This leaf also contains polyphenols that are known to have excellent antioxidant potential. These molecules prevent pancreatic cells from harmful free radicals.
In India, consuming paan (betel quid) after normal meals is a common practice. Some rat studies have shown that the practice might help reduce the biomarkers of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia).
Lowers High Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol level is a high-risk factor for stroke and heart disease. Several studies have discovered that betel leaf aids in reducing high levels of triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, total cholesterol, and very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol. Also, it helps to boost the cholesterol levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
Such a great lipid-lowering effect of betel leaves could be attributed to the presence of eugenol in it. Eugenol is a natural antioxidant that helps to neutralize free radicals. It also helps to inhibit the biosynthesis of liver cholesterol and reduces intestinal lipid absorption. It also increases the broken down (catabolism) of “bad” LDL cholesterol. High levels of triglycerides and cholesterol are triggered from plasma to the liver and then are eliminated in acidic bile form.
Betel leaf oil prevents tooth decay and also makes our teeth and gums healthy. Not just this, the oil extract produced from betel leaf also aids fresh breath, stop oral bleeding, prevents bad breath, and maintenance of oral hygiene. Just mix some drops of betel leaf oil with a warm water glass and use the solution to gargle every morning and night. You’ll surely see the difference immediately after the first use.
Just like tattoos, teeth blackening was a craze in Southeastern Asia. It was done by using plant minerals and extracts. This procedure is said to be good for your teeth, as it prevents painful dental procedures and oral infections.
Betel vines are among the plants linked to tooth blackening. A betel quid prepared with slaked lime, areca nut, and betel leaves has related properties.
When you consume betel leaves with tobacco and betel nuts, your risk of getting oral cancer becomes high. However, betel leaves alone provide a sound reservoir of phenolic compounds that are high in anti-mutagenic, anti-proliferative, antioxidant, and anti-bacterial properties. Some studies have proved the chemo-preventive potential of these leaves against various cancer types. Furthermore, the leaves are filled with an array of beneficial phytochemicals (health-boosting plant chemicals) that are known for their cancer-fighting benefits. Betel leaf is an excellent antioxidant source that neutralizes harmful free radicals and fights oxidative stress alongside. It also inhibits the development of cancerous cells and their proliferation to different body organs.
Betel leaves have also helped cure or prevent sunstroke. Many kids complain of nose bleeding while under the summer sunlight. You may insert a rolled betel leaf into the nose of the child, then make him/her lie down. The bleeding is expected to stop as the leaf contains beneficial properties that prevent undue blood flow and encourage clotting.
Accelerates Wound Healing
High oxidative stress caused due to the presence of free radicals in the body may delay the healing of wounds. Delayed healing of the wound is one of the debilitating complications observed in type 1 diabetes. Phytochemical extract of betel leaf is very effective in addressing such sensitive cases.
Betel leaves contain polyphenols that are high in antioxidant properties. They boost enzymes’ scavenging activity against free radicals in your body, like catalase and superoxide dismutase.
Applying betel leaves extract to the sours on a wounded rat increased the speed of healing. It boosted the level of hydroxyproline, an important component of collagen in the rat. Higher collagen level facilitates rapid wound healing and tissue atrophy.
Betel leaf possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and, thus, helps in the curing and management of asthma. Histamine is an inflammatory driver that plays a prominent role in causing asthma. Histamine obstructs the bronchi cavity (bronchoconstriction), a unique sign of asthma in which lungs air pathways get blocked due to the tightening of smooth muscles. Research has proved that this anti-histaminic strength of betel leaf may help lower bronchial asthma conditions. Besides, polyphenols and oil present in betel leaf possess anti-inflammatory properties that further helps in lowering asthma conditions.
Are you surprised? The question running down your mind should be “how”? You must know that adding a few drops of betel leaf extract in our bath would always give us some fresh feeling all through the day. It helps prevent the body from excessive perspiration and hence prevents all kinds of sweaty odor. Drinking a betel leaf concoction soaked in boiled warm water with some sugar spoons does not only render antiseptic advantages but will also aid in killing menstruation smell.
10. Helps Ease-Out Urination
One of the most beneficial betel leaf attributes is that it aids easy outflow of urine in individuals who are suffering from kidney complications. It also helps to prevent water retention in our bodies. Drinking juice of fresh, crushed betel leaf together with milk helps in this context.
11. Good for Skin
These days we all tend to spend a large portion of our incomes on creams and other cosmetics just to keep better skin. However, not many of us know how betel leaves’ antimicrobial properties can help us with more good-looking and healthy skin (free from acne, pimples, and infections). It cures skin allergies, dark spots, rashes on dry skin and also removes sunburns. Mixing some freshly crushed extract of the leaves with turmeric and applying the solution on the face helps remove the skin complications mentioned above. Just give it a few days of trial and see the difference.
These leaves also play a major role in treating beating respiratory problems like; chest congestion and asthma. Warm some leaves and apply mustard oil on them, then place them on your chest to assist during congestion or asthma attack. Boil some fresh betel leaves together with cinnamon, cardamom, and reduce the mixture to the thickest possible amount. Take this concoction to get relieved of respiratory problems and congestions.
You must have met some people eating betel-inclusive paan in a gathering, meeting, wedding, or any social occasion. The reason behind this is mainly the anti-flatulence and gastro-protective properties of betel leaf. Massaging your stomach when upset with some betel leaf extract may aid the release of carminative acids in your body to boost the digestion process. You can also mix betel leaf extract with pepper and give it to your children to aid their digestion.
14. Vaginal Hygiene
One of the prominent uses of this leaf globally is genital shrinkage. Fresh leaves from the betel plant help in post-partum genital shrinkage. Boil some leaves and add them to your water bath to address vaginal itching or discharge.