Botanical Name :- Piper betle
Indian Name :- Pan
A leaf eaten after a meal to assist digestion
A very attractive spice, fast growing, perennial, evergreen to 1 metre, with creeping stem branches, dark green, glossy, heart-shaped leaves to 15cm long. White catkin flowers turn a green/brown when mature.
Propagation is easy by root division or cuttings, preferably taken in spring or summer. Betel leaf requires a rich soil and prefers a semi-shade position. It makes a good under storey plant. Regular feeding and watering will keep it growing very lush. Although betel leaf is considered a tropical to subtropical plant, it will adapt to cold conditions if given a warm spot in winter, and could be grown in a large pot, and shifted to a cosy position in the cold months of the year.
In about 3–6 months time, vines grow to a height 150-180 cm. At this stage branching is noticed in the vines. Leaves are removed along with the petiole with the right thumb. Once harvesting is commenced, it is continued almost every day or week. The interval of harvesting varies from 15 days to about a month till the next lowering of vines. After each harvest, manuring has to be done.
An analysis of the betel leaf shows it to consist of moisture 85.4 per cent, protein 3.1 per cent, fat 0.8 per cent, minerals 2.3 per cent, fiber 2.3 per cent and carbohydrates 6.1 per cent per 100 grams. Its minerals and vitamin contents are calcium, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C. Its calorific value is 44.
The plant has many traditional medicinal uses. Malaysians use the leaves for headaches, arthritis and joint pain. In Thailand and China the roots are crushed and blended with salt to relieve toothache. In Indonesia leaves are chewed with betel nut, and the masticated juice swallowed for relief from coughs and asthma
It is vata and kapha suppressant. It is an effective anti wormal agent because of its pungent taste. It is an excellent anti infectious agent again because of its pungent taste. It helps in normalizing the digestive tract hence is very effective in maintaining the digestive system because of its light properties. It provides strength to the heart and tones up the cardiovascular system. It also helps in expelling out the mucus form the respiratory tract because of its hot potency. It is also a good aphrodisiac agent.
According to ayurveda it contains :
Gunna (properties) – tikshan (sharp), ruksh (dry) and laghu light
Rasa (taste) – katu (pungent) and tickta (bitter)
Virya (potency) – ushan (hot)