The Betel (Piper betle) is the leaf of a vine belonging to the Piperaceae family, which includes pepper and kava. It is valued both as a mild stimulant and for its medicinal properties. Betel leaf is mostly consumed in Asia, and elsewhere in the world by some Asian emigrants, as betel quid or paan, always with tobacco, in an addictive psycho-stimulating and euphoria-inducing formulation with adverse health effects.
Health Effects The betel leaf is predominantly consumed as betel quid or paan, which is a mixture of substances. The paan almost always contains a betel leaf with two basic ingredients, either areca nut or tobacco or both, with lime (calcium hydroxide or calcium carbonate). When areca nut is consumed with tobacco it is considered as carcinogenic.
Effects of chewing betel quid during pregnancy Scientific teams from Taiwan, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea have reported that expectant mothers who chew betel quid, during pregnancy, significantly increase adverse outcomes for the baby. The effects of betel quid and areca nut were similar to those reported for mothers who consume alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy. Lower birth weights, reduced birth length and early term were found to be significantly higher.