As food – It is often chewed with the mineral slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) and the betel nut to increase salivation and as a stimulant. The saliva is often stained red from the chewing. This combination is called “betel quid”.
In medicine – The leaves are used to treat bad breath, boils and abscesses, conjunctivitis, constipation, headache, hysteria, itches, ringworm, swelling of gum, rheumatism, abrasion, cuts and injuries. Essential oils in the leaves have antimicrobial, antifungal and antioxidant properties which kills or inhibits growth of bacteria that causes typhoid, cholera and tuberculosis.
Other uses – It is also used as a breath-freshener. Hindus use betel leaves and betel nut for all traditional ceremonies. For example, to pay the priest, money is placed on the betel leaves and placed next to him. Similarly during Diwali and the Hindu New Year, adults place money on the betel leaves and hand it over to the children. Children will take the money and return the betel leaf to the adult. Nowadays, yellow packets are used instead.