Chew Your Way To Good Health
It is very common to see a pan shop in every nook and corner of India. It is the betel leaf chew, prepared after carefully washing the betel leaf and adding cardamom, katha, grated coconut, areca nuts and sweet candy and folded very artistically in different shapes. It is secured by piercing a clove in it. In south, pan is referred as killi.
The betel leaf is considered very auspicious. No ritual is complete without the betel leaf. Betel leaf and betel nut (supari) is served at the end of a meal in social functions like weddings, receptions etc. In India, it is considered a good omen by all the communities.
In south during the engagement ceremony, betel leaf along with betel nut is exchanged among the parents of boy and girl. This is called tambulam. During festivities married women exchange tambulam amongst themselves. No religious function is complete without the betel leaf and betel nut.
Unfortunately, many people consider chewing pan as bad habit and harmful to health. But the fact is, it has many health benefits. Chewing pan gives relief from acidity to osteoporosis. It helps in treating various kinds of oral infections. It can be taken in the simplest form by smearing little lime to two or three leaves and wrapped with betel nut, cinnamon, cardamom and clove. It is taken after meals to digest the food and the acid produced while chewing prevents the food particles that are trapped in the teeth from decaying.
The saliva produced while chewing pan is alkaline in nature and helps in alleviating acid-related ailments like cancer. Studies have shown that cancer cell dies, when kept in alkaline solution. Betel leaf is a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium, which helps in preventing problems of osteoporosis.
The leaf is used in traditional system of medicine to treat number of health problems. It relieves stomach ache in children and infants by applying little caster oil on the leaf and fomenting on the stomach. It is also used in treating the wounds. Pan promotes saliva, which helps in digestion of food. It is good diuretic and promotes urine, thus removing the excess water from the body. It keeps the mouth fresh and free of bacteria.
Its other health benefits are as follows:-
Betel leaves are beneficial in the treatment of nervous pains, nervous exhaustion and debility. Crush few betel leaves and extract the juice of about one tablespoon and mix it with one tablespoon of honey. This will give strength to the nerves and will give relief from nervous pains. It can be taken once or twice depending on the severity of the problem.
The betel leaf has analgesic and cooling properties. Make paste of betel leaf and apply on the fore head and temples to get immediate relief from headache.
To get relief from cough and breathing difficulty in children, take few betel leaves soak them in mustard or til oil, slightly warm them and apply to the chest. This fomentation will give relief from cough and they will be able to breathe easily.
For throat irritation, take a few betel leaves, warm them and apply to the throat. Chew the leaf or add little honey to the crushed fruits of the betel tree and take twice a day about 10g or one tablespoon full to get relief from cough.
The leaf has got amazing analgesic properties. Betel leaves are applied to treat arthritis. The leaves are even used to heal wounds. Crush few leaves, extract the juice from them and apply on the wound and tie the leaves as bandage. You can get immediate results.
The herb is also an effective remedy for boils. A leaf is gently warmed till it gets softened, and is then coated with a layer of castor oil. The oiled leaf is spread over the inflamed part. This leaf has to be replaced, every few hours. After a few applications, the boil will rupture draining all the purulent matter. The application can be made at night and removed in the morning.
Not only the pan leaves but all the other additives used in it are equally beneficial for health. Fennel and betel nut speeds up digestion process, while cardamom and cloves reduce the problem of gas and acidity. Kattha helps all those, who suffer from cold by controlling the mucous production. Nutmeg helps in drying up the mucous in the body. Nutmeg also acts as blood thinner thereby preventing heart-related problems. So one pan after meal gives good results.
One pan is beneficial but excessive chewing of pan and use of tobacco in it is very harmful to health. At the same time, chewing pan masala and tobacco are very hazardous to health.
These are some tips to prevent oral infection to those who overeat pan (like chain smokers some people always chew pan and it is very difficult to converse with them)
Take a small piece of neem bark. Boil it in water, till the water is reduced to half and after cooling rinse your mouth with that water at least two to three times a day.
You can do the same with til oil.
Cut an onion (raw), add little lemon juice to it and make it a habit to eat with meals twice a day. This will also prevent oral decaying. This can be useful not only for excessive pan chewers but for everybody in general.
By N Suguna