The betel leaf is considered highly auspicious and hence often exchanged in all social and religious ceremonies.
The plant is a climber and the snake-like appearance of the stem has given rise to many Sanskrit names like Nagavalli, Nagavallari, Nagini, Kamajanani etc.
The betel leaf combines well with a pinch of slaked lime, spread evenly on its underside and a few pieces of areca nut, placed in the centre and rolled or folded neatly. A true connoisseur (from South India) would consume more nuts in the morning. While he prefers more lime during the day and at night, he consumes more leaves. The reason given to this `chewing etiquette` has a logical explanation. It is believed that the addition of more nuts in the morning takes care of the bowel movements, the emphasis on slaked lime during the day enhances the appetite and the leaves eaten at night prevent halitosis.
What is it good for?
A chemical analysis of betel leaves reveals the presence of several `goodies` like vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, nicotinic acid, vitamin C, glucose, fructose and maltose.
Word of Caution
Gums, tooth enamel and the general health of the teeth are affected by the abuse of betel leaves. Adding tobacco to betel leaf may prove fatal.