Family Name: Piperaceae , English Name: Betel , Sanskrit: Nagavallari, Nagini , Hindi : Pan, Tambool
This plant is grown in warm and humid regions, especially in Bihar, Bengal, Orissa, Banaras, Kerala & Karnataka.
The original climbing vine of betel is very pretty and soft. The stem is strong and thick at the knots. The leaves are big like those of peepal and are heart shaped with veins. They are smooth and thick with a one inch long stem. The flower bunch is spiked. The fruits are 2 inch long, muscular and there are many small fruits in axial groups hanging down. Betel has a pleasant odour. Its taste is slightly warm and fragrant.
The leaf contains proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and tannin. It also includes calcium, phosphorous, iron, iodine, potassium and vitamin A, B and C.
Dhanvantari nighantu has described 13 properties of betel which are not available even in heaven. Betel is hot, sour, pungent bitter, sweet and alkaline.
It improves memory and potency. Betel is antidote to poison, appetite enhancing, fragrant, sharp, sweet, beneficial for heart, stimulant of the digestive fire and of sex desire.
It cures some skin diseases and destroys foul smell. Its oil cures cough and throat, mouth and air passage related disorders.
Betel is used to treat following:
Influenza in children
Improving quality of voice
Swelling of joints
Eating betel is also an addiction. Regular intake causes addiction. When eaten for the first time, the impact on the mind is noticeable ,like giddiness, anxiety etc , but when the person becomes habitual and eats betel regularly these effects go off slowly. When betel is sucked it causes excessive formation of saliva, which helps in food digestion but intake of betel in excessive amounts is harmful.