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.
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.
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.
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.
Treats gastric ulcers: Extracts of betel leaves are known to have gastroprotective activity and help in preventing gastric ulcers.2
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
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.
Treats diabetes: Extracts of betel leaves are known to control blood sugar levels and have an effective anti-diabetic property.4
Treats cough: Betel leaf extract mixed with honey is known to relieve cough and helps removing phlegm from the chest.
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.
Heals wounds: Juice of betel leaves, when applied over a wound and bandaged with betel leaves is known to heal within two days.
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.