Betel

The betel is a vine of the family Piperaceae, which includes pepper and kava. The betel plant is native to Southeast Asia. It is an evergreen, dioecious perennial, with glossy heart-shaped leaves and white catkin. The botanical name of betel is Piper betel. The betel leaf is an extremely common leaf. It is in the shape of a heart and is dark green in color and it is used as a popular mouth freshener in India. Betel leaf is also called Paan.



Betel leaf is mostly consumed in Asia and elsewhere in the world by some Asian emigrants. Today betel is grown for local consumption and exports. Major betel leaves growing countries are Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Bangladesh. Chewing the mixture of areca nut (betel leaf) and betel leaf is a tradition, custom, or ritual which dates back thousands of years in much of the geographical areas from South Asia eastward to the Pacific.


Table of Contents


Height(Avg)

1 - 6 feet


Approximate pH

6.5 - 7.0


Varieties of Betel Leaves


Based on shape, size, brittleness and taste of leaf blade, betel vine is classified into pungent and non-pungent varieties. There are many varieties of betel plants which are farmed all over the world. These are mainly cultivated in countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. In India commonly cultivated betel varieties are:


Meetha:

  • These are popularly grown in various districts of West Bengal.

  • The texture of these leaves is waxy and very thin.

  • The shape of the leaf is oval.

  • The specks on the leaves are pale yellow in colour.

  • The aroma of the leaves are very different than the other betel leaf varieties.


Kapoori:

  • These are mainly cultivated in states like Maharastra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala etc.

  • The leaves of the vines grow vigorously.

  • The leaves are very narrow and oval in shape.

  • The texture of the leaf is soft having a thin lamina.

  • This variety has a good aroma.


Bangla:

  • This variety has a great demand in the market.

  • This variety grows vigorously, but has a pungent smell.

  • The leaves are dark green in colour with tinges of yellow.

  • The leaves of this variety are cordate and round in shape.

  • The texture of these leaves are very fibrous.


Sanchi:

  • This variety is medium - large in size.

  • They are narrow but oval in shape.

  • The lobes of the leaves are very less predominant.

  • The colour of the leaves are very dark green in colour with pungent smell.


Khasi:

  • This variety of leaf is mostly farmed in the wild.

  • They are grown in the northeastern hilly areas in India.

  • The leaf is either dark green or dull green in colour.


Bidan Pan:

  • It is one of the local varieties of betel.

  • The short internode length is the one of the characteristic features of the betel leaf.

  • The yield and productivity are also high.


Commercial varieties of Betel leaf:

  • Andhra Pradesh and Telangana – Tellaku,Karapaku, Chennor, Kalli Patti and Bangla.

  • Assam: Awani pan, Assam Patti, Bangla and Khasi Paan.

  • Bihar: Calcutta, Desi Paan, Paton, Meghai and Bangla.

  • Karnataka: Mysoreale, Kariyale and Ambadiale.

  • Kerala: Kalkodo, Nadan and Puthukodi.

  • Madhya Pradesh: Calcutta, Desi Bengla and Deswari.

  • Orissa: Nova Cuttak, Godi Bangla, Sanchi and Birkoli.

  • Tamil Nadu: Vellaikodi and Pachai Kodi.

  • Uttar Pradesh: Kapoori, Deswari, Bangla and Maghai.

  • West Bengal: Sanchi, Bangla, Kali Bangla, Mitha and Simurali Bangla.


Growing Betel


Location


The plant does best in filtered sunlight, so keeping it at a dappled or shaded location would be best—also, avoid keeping it in a totally dark spot. Never expose the plant to the harsh afternoon sun for long, as it will burn the foliage.


Soil


It prefers slightly acidic, sandy-loamy, and lightly damp soil but it should not promote waterlogging. Use a well-drained potting mix rich in organic matter like aged manure, you can also mix coarse sand to improve drainage.


Watering


Take care of watering the plant in a way where the soil remains slightly moist. Avoid overwatering and stagnant water around the plant as it will cause fungal issues. The best method to follow is to let the topsoil a wee bit dry between watering while maintaining the regular moisture.


Growing Betel Leaf Indoors


You can also grow betel leaf plant indoors to enjoy the look of its large and lush foliage while getting a fresh supply for the amazing Indian staple “Paan!” Just ensure that you keep it near any window that filters indirect light on the plant.


Go with a small 6-8 inches pot, water the plant so that the growing medium stays a little moist always—however, avoid too much moisture.


Propagating Betel Leaf Plant


Take a 4-6 inches long cutting from a healthy plant. Make 45 degrees cut using a sharp knife just below the leaf node. Remove all leaves from the cutting except the top 2 ones.

Dip the end in a rooting hormone and plant the cutting in a well-draining potting medium.


Water well, and keep the pot where it gets bright, indirect light.


You can also propagate the plant in water, but it’s not that effective—Put the cutting in a glass of fresh water and place it on the spot like a windowsill in indirect sunlight. Keep changing the water every 3-4 days. Once several roots appear, transplant the cutting into a pot with a well-draining potting mix.


Betel Leaf Care

  • Prune regularly for harvesting after it reaches a height of 3-4 feet. Plucking of leaves encourages new growth and sweet and tender leaves.

  • Occasional feeding every couple of months in the growing season of the plant with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer is recommended. Alternatively, you can side dress the plant with aged manure or compost 2-3 times a year.

  • In cold climates, keep it indoors in winters when the temperature starts to fall below 41 F (5 C) in a warm and cozy room under grow light.

  • Overwatering can cause root rot, so avoid it at all costs.

  • Be careful of red mites—if noticed, they can be treated with insecticidal soap.

  • Leaf blight is another problem that affects the betel plants. Simply snip away the infected leaf or stem.


Harvesting Betel Leaf



Within four to six months after planting, it’ll be ready for harvest. You can pick off the fresh aromatic leaves for various uses, like making the tremendous South Asian mouth freshener paan. Do make sure that you are not harvesting more than 1/4 plant at a time. Use a clean pair of scissors to take the leaves off.


Pests and diseases


Red mites are the biggest threat to your betel leaf. They occasionally attack this herb and cause severe damage. You should also water this plant carefully as overwatering cause fungal diseases.


Another problem that you may face while growing betel leaf is leaf blight. It is quite common when growing this herb. Once you notice that your plant’s leaves are covered with black and brown spots, pull them immediately in order to contain the infection and prevent it from spreading to other leaves.


Benefits of Betel Leaf


Betel leaf benefits for diabetes patients


Diabetes is an extremely common disease and though there are numerous anti-diabetic medications out there, it is best to avoid them as they often have side effects on the liver and kidneys. Herbal remedies, such as betel leaf cures diabetes. Betel leaf can help reduce the overall glucose levels in your blood, which is great for people who have Type 2 diabetes.

Moreover, people with diabetes often suffer from oxidative stress. This ends up depleting the antioxidant content in the body, which can lead to the buildup of free radicals in the system. Having betel leaf can help prevent this in diabetes and keep their immune system intact. Even betel leaf oil can be also used by diabetes patients.


Betel Leaf reduce cholesterol level


Having high cholesterol in your blood can increase your chances of getting a stroke. Betel leaves have eugenol in them due to which they aid in lowering your cholesterol levels. Moreover, eugenol also inhibits the amount of cholesterol that is generated in the liver and can help with reducing the amount of lipids absorbed by the intestine. This is very good for your body.


Betel leaf benefits cancer patients


Although betel nuts can increase the risk of tobacco, betel leaves have anti-cancer compounds in them. Betel leaves have phenolic compounds in them that can contain a range of properties such as anti-bacterial, anti-mutagenic, antioxidant, and anti-proliferative.

Betel leaves also have high amounts of phytochemicals, which can help fight oral and colon cancer. Betel leaves also help fight oxidative stress and eliminate free radicals. Both of these factors are important in preventing cancer.


Betel Leaves has anti-microbial properties


The essential oil that is naturally present in betel leaves has antibacterial properties, which can help fight infections that are caused by bacteria. Moreover, since betel leaves is filled with phenolic and phytochemicals, it can be very effecting against gram positive and gram-negative bacteria.


Betel leaves helps in healing wounds


Betel leaf extract has an extremely strong effect when it comes to healing wounds. This is because betel leaves are filled with antioxidants, which reduce the amount of oxidative stress your body is going through. When your body goes through high oxidative stress, it can delay the rate at which your wounds heal. Thus, betel leaves help with healing wounds. Furthermore, they are particularly effective against healing wounds that are related to burns.


Betel leaf benefits for asthma patients


While many people know that asthma is a problem that is related to breathing, not many people know that it is actually also an inflammation problem as well. As betel leaves have anti-inflammatory properties, they can help patients who have asthma. Asthma is usually triggered by histamine in the system. This is because histamine causes bronchoconstriction which is a major part of asthma. Betel leaves have anti-histamine properties in them, which helps prevent and control asthma. Betel oil can also be used for the same purposes.


Betel leaf helps in depression issues


Depression is a serious condition that affects many people around the world. Though there are various antidepressant drugs out there in the market, it is proven that herbal remedies can also cause a significant impact when it comes to treating and managing the disease. One of these popular remedies is to chew betel leaf in depression issues. This is because they stimulate the activity in the central nervous system, and help produce feelings of light-heartedness, well-being, and even happiness.

Betel leaves also help produce aromatic phenolic compounds that end up stimulating the number of catecholamines in your system, which is directly linked with lowering depression. This can be a good herbal remedy for people who don’t want to get hooked onto medication.


Betel leaf improves oral health


Betel leaf is widely used as a mouth freshener in India so it comes as no surprise that it improves oral health. Betel leaf can help reduce the growth of bacteria in your mouth, preventing a wide range of oral infections and diseases. Betel leaf can also protect your oral cavity from dental caries by reducing the amount of acid that is produced by bacterial saliva.


Betel leaves for gastritis system


The phytochemicals that are present in betel leaves have antioxidant and anti-ulcer properties. Stomach ulcers can lead to the damaging of your stomach lining, decreased production of gastric mucus, and lots of oxidative stress. When you consume betel leaves, your ulcers are healed, the amount of gastric mucus that is produced by your body is increased and the oxidative stress goes down because of the antioxidants.

Betel leaves not only soothe your digestive system while the ulcers are being healed, but can also save you from a host of stomach related problems in the future that stem from ulcers being neglected.


Betel Leaf has Anti Parasitic Properties


Terpenes, which is a healthy compound that is present in betel leaves has strong anti-malaria properties. Also, the flavonoids that are present in betel leaves have strong anti-parasitic properties and they help fight against parasite related strains of malaria. Betel leaves have been used for their anti-malarial properties since ancient times, and this practice started off in Malaysia. It can certainly protect you from the fatal dangers of malaria and can help you fight against this deadly disease.


Uses


Betel leaves are commonly used as mouth fresheners in India. They are used as a base to wrap up various components of paan, including tobacco, betel nut, sugar syrup, and a few other components.


Modern variations of this street favorite include chocolate syrup being poured in the center of the leaf along with all the traditional components. Paan has been used as a mouth freshener since ancient times and is more popular in some cities than in others. The leaf is rolled and wrapped up to create a conical shape and always ingested in one bite.


It takes a long time to chew the entire betel leaf but the flavors and textures of this mouth freshener make it an interesting process. Paan is also used as a flavoring agent in many candies, food, and drinks. It is also a popular flavor in hookahs. Paan flavored condoms are also a common sight in drug stores in India. Paan masala, a powdered mixture of paan flavor and tobacco, is also pretty common in India.


The plant is used to decorate the balcony, terrace or any outdoor space.

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