Betel – Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, Dose, Research

By Dr Renita D’Souza
Betel (Piper betle) is a well known Ayurvedic herb commonly known as Paan. It is widely used in the treatment of cough, asthma, headache, rhinitis, arthritic joint pain, anorexia etc. It relieves pain, inflammation and swelling. It is best used in Kapha dosha related diseases.

Botanical Name – Piper betle Family – Piperaceae

Betel Leaves in Indian Tradition

  • Betel leaves symbolizes the beginning of auspicious events. They are part of Indian tradition, customs and rituals.
  • It is used as a pooja (religious function) item in every Hindu rituals. As an Indian tradition betel leaves are offered to guest as tambula after food.
  • Betel leaves along with areca nuts are used to welcome the guest. As a symbol of prosperity it is used during business deals and transactions.
  • In Indian marriage ceremony betel leaves play a important role. Betel leaves are exchanged between two families as a sign of confirmation of the wedding.
  • Betel leaves along with areca nuts represents strong and inseparable bond after marriage.
  • After wedding as a token of gratitude betel leaves along with coconut is given to every guest.

Home remedies of Tambula (Betel)

  • Adjuvant (anupana) – It used as anupana in kapha related diseases like cough, running nose, bloating etc
  • Paan – It is used as paan to relieve bad breath, toothache, tastelessness, cough, sore throat. (Read about preparation and benefits of pan chewing)
  • Chewing betel leaf after meal relieves indigestion, bloating, anorexia and cleanses the mouth.
  • Leaves juice is used in asthma, laryngitis (swelling of vocal cords) and sore throat.
  • Betel leaves applied with castor oil is warmed and tied over the chest relieves asthma and cough in children.
  • In diphtheria juice of 4 betel leaves or 2 drops of betel leaf oil is mixed with warm water is used to gargle. Its steam can also be inhaled.
  • Betel leaves are warmed and tied over arthritic joints to relieve pain, swelling and inflammation. To stop breast milk it is tied over the breast.
  • Eye drops – In netraabhishyanda (conjunctivitis) juice of betel leaf with honey is used as eye drops.
  • Purgative – Due to its sramsana effect it is used as mild purgative. For constipation cold infusion of betel leaves taken in empty stomach can be used.
  • In children stalk of betel leaf dipped in castor oil is used as suppository to relieve constipation.

Vernacular, medicinal qualities

Names in different languages
Hindi Name – Paan. pan
Kannada Name – Veelyada Ele
Marati Name – Nagvel, Vidyaachepaan
Telugu Name – Tamal paaku
Malyalam Name – Vettila
Tamil Name – Vettilai
Gujarati Name – Nagarvel
English Name – Betel vine, betel

Medical Qualities of Paan
Rasa (taste) – Tiktha (bitter), Katu (pungent)  
Vipaka (taste conversion after digestion) – Katu (pungent)
Virya (potency) – Ushna (hot)
Guna (qualities) – Kshara – alkaline
Laghu – light to digest Saram – flowing nature

Effect on Doshas
Pittaprakopaka – increases pitta dosha
Balances Kapha and Vata dosha

Therapeutic action, indications


Karma (action)
Vishada – clarity
Ruchya – Improves taste
Vashyam – it makes the person obey you.
Raktapittakara – it causes bleeding diseases
Balyam – improves strength
Sramsanam – mild purgative
Swarya – improves voice
Deepana – carminative

Indications of Nagavalli (Betel)
Shleshma – relieves diseases related to kapha dosha like cough, high cholesterol level, abscess, diabetes, obesity etc
It relieves bad breath (Halitosis), removes dirt, moistness and cleanses the oral cavity.
Vata – Vata disorders
Srama – exhaustion
Kandu – itching
Kasa – cough Sore throat, Asthma
Anorexia, tastelessness
Bloating Inflammation
Swelling Tumours
Intestinal worm infestation Chronic wounds

Dose, Side effects, Sanskrit verse

Dosage Juice (swarasa) – 5 – 15 ml

Side effects of Piper betle
No recorded side effects.
Avoid its usage in high pitta conditions like bleeding disorders (rakthapitta), heavy menstrual flow, burning sensation etc
Avoid its usage in pregnancy and lactation.
Check for any allergic reactions before external application by applying over small area of skin.
Due to its hot (ushna) and sharp (tikshna) quality excess oral intake can cause gastric irritation.

Betel makes the person to agree with you!


Betel leaves are explained as Vashya. It makes the person to agree with your view points.
For this reason, from many centuries, for any business deals, for marriage alliance, during functions such as marriage, house-warming etc, it is customary in Indian household to offer betel leaves with arecanut.

Morphology, chemistry, nutritional value

Morphology of Betel vine
It is perennial aromatic creeper. Leaves are glossy, green colour, hear shape and deeply veined.

Chemical constituents of Piper betle
Piper betle contains chavibetol, chavicol, hydroxychavicol, diosgenin, eugenol, allylpyrocatechol, methyl eugenol, triterpenes and ?-sitosterol. Betel leaves yields essential oil.

Nutritional value of Betel Leaf Betel leaf contain thiamine, riboflavin, carotene, Fibre, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Potassium, Calcium, Iron and Iodine

Distribution, pharmacology, research

Distributions South and Southeast Asia. It is found in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Pharmacological Activities of Betel leaf
Antimicrobial, antioxidant activity, cytotoxic activity, anti inflammatory activity, Analgesic

It is believed to bring success to business meetings as the dealing parties agree easily with each other while they enjoy betel leaves. It is also useful in marriage alliances.

This type of offering betel is called Supari. From this word Supari, the infamous term Supari-killer has been derived, wherein an assassin is hired to do a hit job!

Research

  1. Cytotoxic activity – A study conducted to evaluate cytotoxic activity of Piper betel leaf extract have showed potential cytotoxic activity against human colon cancer cell lines.
  2. A study conducted on effect of orally administered betel leaf on digestive enzymes of pancreas and intestinal mucosa and on bile production in rats. The results showed that they have a significant stimulatory influence on pancreatic lipase activity. (read more)
  3. Antidiabetic activity – A study done to investigate the potential antidiabetic activity of Piper betle in alloxen induced diabetics have proved that Piper betle juice as a potential source of an antidiabetic activity.
  4. Antioxidant, Analgesic, Anti inflammatory activity of Betel leaves– The study conducted to evaluate the antioxidant, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory activities of the methanolic extract of Piper betle leaves have confirmed the significant use of this plant for inflammatory and pain alleviation along with its potent antioxidant activity.
  5. Cancer fighting properties A study conducted on cancer-fighting benefits of the phenolic phytochemicals in betel leaves have concluded that, Piper betel is a treasure of bioactive phenolics, possesses great potential to fight against cancers of oral, mammary, prostate, skin, and gastric origin.

Ayurvedic medicines, categorization

Ayurvedic Medicines with Nagavalli Ingredient
Laghu Sutshekhar Ras – Best Ayurvedic medicine in tablet and powder form used in headache, migraine, gastritis, dyspepsia, sinusitis, burning sensation, nasal bleeding, stomatitis.
Brihat Vishama Jwarantak Lauh – It is in tablet form used to treat all types of fever.

Nagavallabha Rasa – Used in the treatment of cold, cough, asthma, bronchitis, diabetes, urinary tract diseases, pthisis, emaciation.
Nardiya Laxmi Vilas Ras – Used in the treatment of high blood pressure, chronic skin diseases, diabetes, urinary tract disorders, sinuses, non healing wounds, fistula, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, ascites, headache, gynaecological disorders, diseases of ear, nose, throat and eyes.

Swas Kas Chintamani Ras – Used to treat respiratory diseases such as cold, cough, bronchitis, asthma etc
Brihat Sarva Jwarahar Lauh – used in treatment of all types of fever, anaemia, indigestion, splenomegaly, cough, intermittent fever, typhoid, injuries.

Chardihara Vati – Used to trat vomiting, nausea, improves appetite. It is a tablet form of medicine.
Pushpadhanwa Ras – used in the Ayurvedic treatment of sexual disorders such as low stamina, premature ejaculation, sexual dysfunction, erectile dysfunction. It is also a good anti ageing medicine.
Makaradhwaj Rasayan Tablet – It is a best aphrodisiac, increases sexual power,improve the erection and quality of sperms, strengthens the mental power etc

Inflanil Ointment – used in inflammations associated with fall or injury, Bruises, cuts, burns, muscle sprain, fractures, joint pain etc
Astapatra Tailam – used in treatment of headache, dizziness etc.
HiOra Mouth Wash-Regular – It is a regular mouth wash that kills germs, tones gums and refreshes mouth with zero alcohol.

Classical Categorisation
Qualities of Tambulapatra in Sushrutha Samhitha is mentioned under the chapter Annapaanavidi Adhyaaya 46/279, 280.
In Charaka Samhitha tambulapatra qualities are mentioned in Maatraashitiya adhyaaya 5/76, 77
Bhavaprakasha Nighantu – Guduchyaadi Varga Kaiyadeva Nighantu – Aushadi Varga Raja Nighantu – Amraadi Varga
Shodala Nighantu – Chandanadi Varga

Scientific classification
Botanical Name – Piper betle
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Piperales
Family: Piperaceae
Genus: Piper Species: P. betle

Sanskrit Synonyms Tambulavalli, Tambuli, Nagini, Nagavallari Tambula

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