Betel Leaf (Pan) mostly consumed in Asia and elsewhere in the world by some Asia immigrants with or without tobacco, in an addictive and euphoria-inducing formulation with adverse health effects.
The betel leaf is known as Paan in Urdu/Hindi/Bengali, and Taambuul and Nagavalli in Sanskrit. Some of the names in the regions in which it is consumed are: Vetrilai Tamil,Tamalapaku Telugu, Vidyache pan Marathi, veeleyada yele Kannada, Vettila Malayalam, Plū Mon, Malus Tetum, Maluu Khmer, Plue Thai, Malus Tetum, Bulath Sinhalese, Malu Tokodede, Bileiy Divehi, bulung samat Kapampangan language, daun sirih Malay language, Papulu Chamorro and Trầu Vietnamese.
There is archaeological evidence that the betel leaves are chewed along with the areca nut since very ancient times. It is not known, however, when these two different stimulants substances were put together for the first time. In most countries the mixture of both has a ceremonial and highly symbolical value. In India, Burma, Nepal, Sri Lanka and other parts of South Asia, as well as Southeast Asia, the leaves are chewed together in a wrapped package along with the areca nut (which, by association, is often inaccurately called the “betel nut”) and mineral slaked lime (calcium hydroxide). Catechu, called “Kattha” in Hindi/Urdu, and other flavoring substances and spices might be added. The lime acts to keep the active ingredient in its freebase or alkaline form, thus enabling it to enter the bloodstream via sublingual absorption. The areca nut contains the alkaloid arecoline, which promotes salivation (the saliva is stained red), and is itself a stimulant. This combination, known as a “betel quid”, has been used for several thousand years. Tobacco is sometimes added.