Betel Vine is a vine of the family Piperaceae, which includes pepper and Kava. Betel leaf is mostly consumed in Asia, and elsewhere in the world by some Asian emigrants, as betel quid
or in paan, with areca nut and/or tobacco.
In India and Sri Lanka, a sheaf of betel leaves is traditionally offered as a mark of respect and auspicious beginnings. Occasions include greeting elders at wedding ceremonies, celebrating the New Year, and offering payment to Ayurvedic physicians and astrologers.
Betel Vine is an evergreen and perennial creeper, with glossy heart-shaped leaves, producing woody stems 5-20 m long. The stems produce adventitious roots, with which they can adhere to other plants etc for support. Leaves are light green to bright green, glossy, deeply veined and hairless. They are heart-shaped with entire leaf margin. Lleaf stalk is reddish like the stem. Flowers are white catkins developed on the nodes, erect or pendulous. Flowers are small, without sepal and petal. Fruits are fleshy, spherical to ellipsoidal. The primary use of betel leaf is as a wrap for chewing of betel nut or tobacco where it is mainly used to add flavour. Betel vine is native to India and SE Asia.
The leaves, roots and seeds are all used for medicinal purposes in Asia. Leaf preparations and the leaf sap are applied to wounds, ulcers, boils and bruises. Heated leaves are applied as a poultice on the chest against cough and asthma, on the breasts to stop milk secretion, and on the abdomen to relieve constipation. The leaves are also used to treat nosebleed, ulcerated noses, gums and mucous membranes while the extract from the leaves is applied for wounds in the ears and as an infusion for the eye. A decoction of the leaves is used to bathe a woman after childbirth, or is drunk to lessen an unpleasant body odour.
The primary use of betel leaf is as a wrapper for the chewing of areca nut or tobacco, where it is mainly used to add flavour. It may also be used in cooking, usually raw, for its peppery taste. Use of binglang, or betel, has over a 300 year history in areas of China where it was once promoted for medicinal use.