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Betel leaf or its more famous name 'Paan' is the leaf of a vine/climber belonging to the Piperaceae family. It has a very important cultural significance in the Indian sub-continent and is offered during various ceremonies like marriage, new year, religious rituals, etc.
This evergreen, perennial, heart-shaped leaf is also consumed with areca nut or tobacco across South Asia and South East Asia and this is also the region where betel leaf is majorly cultivated for commercial purpose.
Betel leaf has been in use in India since 2600 BC and over the years has been used by the royalty and paan lovers for its breath freshening and relaxant qualities. In ancient times paan was chewed by women for the red colour it leaves behind on the tongue and the lips acting as a natural way of makeup.
In the state of Bengal a group of betel leaf cultivators known as Baruis worship the sacred betel leaf in the month of April-May.
Betel leaf or paan along with its refreshing quality is also used for various medicinal purposes and this is what actually sets it apart. Given below are the magical medicinal benefits of Paan:
1. Wound Healing :
Betel leaf is a great source of antioxidants. It leads to a reduction in oxidative stress and thus heals the wound quicker. It also increases wound contraction rate and total protein content. Apply the juice of the leaves on the wound, then wrap it with more betel leaves and at last bandage it. The wound will heal within a day or two.
2. Joint Pain:
Loaded with polyphenols, especially chavicol, it is a great anti-inflammatory agent. Local application of its juice gives relief from arthritis and its related issues.
Coming to digestion, betel leaf is full of good qualities like gastro-protective, anti-flatulent, carminative, etc. Chewing of betel leaf initiates production of more salivary juice.
It also triggers better absorption of minerals and nutrients. The juice can be taken with water for instant cure of indigestion. The oil prepared can also be applied on the stomach to facilitate digestion.
4. Bad Breath:
It has potential antimicrobial effect when it comes to oral health. Its proven from studies that chewing betel leaf increases salivation; this saliva reduces the growth of oral bacteria by restoring the pH level.
5. Weight Loss :
Betel leaf boosts metabolism, increases digestive juice secretion and removes excess water and toxins from the body. The rich fibre content provides relief from constipation too. It is believed to reduce body fat. All these together lead to a healthy weight loss.
6. Sore Throat:
The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory property of betel leaf makes it a first-aid to treat cold and related problems. According to ayurveda, a regular intake of crushed betel leaf with honey protects one from throat infection.
7. Erectile Dysfunction In Men:
In ayurveda, betel leaves are considered as highly medicinal for treating "dhwaja bhanga" or erectile dysfunction in men as it relaxes blood vessels and also works as an anti-depressant. One or two leaves can be chewed post meal to treat this.