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12 reasons you should chew paan or betel leaves

Chewing paan or betel leaves , many a times is frowned upon. But here are a few reasons one should regularly consume betel leaves.

Ideally, a paan is made by wrapping areca nut, tobacco and slaked lime in betel leaf. Since tobacco and areca nuts are known to cause cancer, chewing paan with them should be avoided. The betel leaf has many medicinal benefits and has been extensively used in Ayurveda.

Health benefits

  1. Improves digestion: Chewing betel leaves takes a lot of effort and works your salivary gland. It stimulates the release of saliva which is the first step of digestion, as various enzymes in it break down food, making it easy to digest. Natural substances like ginger, figs, fennel etc. are also known to improve digestion.
  2. Prevents carcinogenesis in the oral cavity: Chewing betel leaves has also shown to prevent oral cancer by maintaining the levels of ascorbic acid in the saliva1 .Ascorbic acid is an excellent antioxidant, which helps reduce the free radicals in the body, thus preventing cancer.
  3. Helps maintain good oral hygiene: Betel leaves have various compounds which have bactericidal effects that help in destroying bad breath causing bacteria. Also, various spices like cloves, fennel, cardamom. etc. when wrapped in betel nut to make paan, make an excellent mouth-freshener. Spices like cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg etc. are also known to solve many oral problems.
  4. Is an aphrodisiac: Betel leaf is known to have aphrodisiac properties and chewing paan right before having sex makes the process more enjoyable. It is a common practice to offer masala paan to newlyweds.
  5. Treats gastric ulcers: Extracts of betel leaves are known to have gastroprotective activity and help in preventing gastric ulcers.2
  6. Treatment of warts: Betel leaves are a major component in various Ayurvedic medicines used in treating warts. These medicines are known to not leave any scarring and remove the wart completely without recurrence.3
  7. Cures boils: They are widely used in Ayurveda for treating boils. Betel leaves are warmed till slightly softer and coated with a castor oil and placed over the boil. This treatment is known to rupture the boil and drain it.
  8. Treats diabetes: Extracts of betel leaves are known to control blood sugar levels and have an effective anti-diabetic property.4
  9. Treats cough: Betel leaf extract mixed with honey is known to relieve cough and helps removing phlegm from the chest.
  10. Relieves headache: Betel leaf is also known to have analgesic properties and hence applying it over the affected area is known to effectively reduce headache.
  11. Heals wounds: Juice of betel leaves, when applied over a wound and bandaged with betel leaves is known to heal within two days.
  12. Cures constipation: Stalk of betel leaves dipped in castor oil, when introduced in the rectum, effectively relieves constipation. Along with betel leaves, natural remedies like flaxseeds, triphala, lemon, etc. are also known to cure constipation.

References:

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  1. Toprani R, Patel D. Betel leaf: Revisiting the benefits of an ancient Indian herb.South Asian Journal of Cancer 2013;2(3):140-141. doi:10.4103/2278-330X.114120.
  2. Sekhar Namburi UR, Omprakash, Babu G. A review on management of warts in Ayurveda. Ayu 2011;32(1):100-102. doi:10.4103/0974-8520.85739.
  3. Arambewela LS, Arawwawala LD, Ratnasooriya WD. Antidiabetic activities of aqueous and ethanolic extracts of Piper betle leaves in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Nov 14;102(2):239-45. Epub 2005 Aug 1. PubMed PMID: 16055288.
  4. Arawwawala LD, Arambewela LS, Ratnasooriya WD. Gastroprotective effect of Piper betle Linn. leaves grown in Sri Lanka. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2014 Jan;5(1):38-42. doi: 10.4103/0975-9476.128855. PubMed PMID: 24812474; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4012360.

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