Eating Betel Leaf (Paan) during Pregnancy: Benefits & Harmful Effects

Eating Betel Leaf (Paan) During Pregnancy – Is It Safe?

Having betel leaf is quite a common thing in our country and families. Betel leaf brings its own share of benefits for the body and is known to have an impact on appetite as well. At times, you might even crave a meetha paan during pregnancy and want to relish those flavours. But is it safe for the baby, or does it have harmful effects? To know if you can consume betel leaves during pregnancy or not, you need to read this article. Let’s find out more about consuming betel leaves for pregnant women below.

Is Eating Paan Safe During Pregnancy?

Betel leaf might be a healthy choice for many. However, it is recommended to have it in moderation while you are pregnant.

Having betel leaves with betel nuts could have a harmful impact on one’s health, and can even result in cancer. Many parts of the world where people have a tradition of regularly eating betel leaves, even during pregnancy, have shown higher cases of pregnancy complications, birth disorders, etc.

Why Is Betel Leaf Consumption Common During Pregnancy?

Most pregnant women that continue to eat betel leaves during pregnancy do so as a result of long-held traditions in families and neighbourhoods. There are reports of betel leaves aiding the process of digestions and stimulating the appetite of a person. In certain areas, betel leaves are applied to the breasts while breastfeeding in order to boost the production of milk.

Betel leaves do contain antioxidants in substantial quantities. These make them a natural cure for typical illnesses and issues such as a cough, dehydration, inflammation, constipation, headache, and many others.

Benefits of Consuming Betel Leaf During Pregnancy

Do you know that paan in pregnancy, when consumed in moderation, can satisfy your pregnancy cravings? Let’s take a look at some benefits of consuming betel leaves when pregnant.

1. Oral Health

Facing oral health problems is quite common during pregnancy as the gums become sensitive, increasing the chances of oral infections. Betel leaves have antimicrobial agents present in them that help fight oral bacteria and combat issues related to cavities.

2. Joint Pain

Joint pain during pregnancy can be really uncomfortable. Betel leaves, when consumed as a meetha paan, can help curb these pains

3. Hypertension

It is common for pregnant women to develop hypertension, mood swings, and stress during pregnancy. Thankfully, chewing betel leaves can release these types of stress.

4. Respiratory Issues

Taking too many meditations for problems like cold, cough, and pain can harm your baby’s health. Having betel leaves can help cure congestion and provide relief from congestion, and ensures a smooth pregnancy.

5. Antiseptic

Fungal infections can increase the risk of septic issues, which is harmful to both the expecting mother and her child. Consuming betel leaves kill this bacterial fungus in the body and help the wound to heal, providing full protection from fungi and germs.

6. Digestion

Constipation, bloating, and digestive issues are also normal during the pregnancy period. The vitamins and nutrients present in betel leaves can reduce problems related to the digestive system.

Harmful Effects of Betel Leaf Consumption If Taken in Larger Quantities While Pregnant

  • One of the major harmful effects that have been observed in regular eaters of betel leaves is its high risk of causing cancer. Most of the times, it is oral cancer that can affect not only the mother but also the child.

Oral cancer

  • Consuming paan during pregnancy may cause cancer, but there is an even higher chance of the formation of mouth ulcers if taken in larger amounts. At times, these take a long time to be cured. Furthermore, these can reach inside the body and affect organs like the oesophagus, larynx, and the throat, causing immense discomfort.
  • Most betel leaves are mixed with tobacco when they are given from paan shops. Tobacco is known for being a stimulant that increases the dopamine levels and affects the biology of the body. This could lead to addiction on one the hand, and may adversely affect the baby since these changes could be harmful to his growth.
  • The layering of slaked lime on the leaves may not bring out all the nutrients but can definitely result in affecting the heartbeat and can cause palpitations. Long-term damages include coronary heart diseases. At times, people do get addicted to the consumption of slaked lime, too. 
  • Regular consumption of meetha paan can lead to the rise in weight, resulting in obesity.

Safe Alternatives to Betel Leaf to Improve Digestion During Pregnancy

In case your doctor recommends you not to consume betel leaves, here are some alternatives you can try.

  • You can consume saunf, which is a healthy substitute for betel leaf.
  • You must consume smaller and more frequent meals.
  • Seek your doctor’s advice if you have a digestion problem.

Pregnancy cravings are not a new thing, and nearly all mothers desire foods that can be rather strange at times. However, it is necessary to know that not all cravings are safe to be satiated, and some of them can lead to long-term damage. Be it a craving, a long-held tradition, or just a casual option, keeping betel leaves away during pregnancy is your best bet in ensuring the healthy development of your baby and keeping yourself healthy to take care of him as well.


1. Consuming Betel Leaf During Pregnancy, Is it Safe!;;

2. Paan: A Popular After-Meal Treat In India;;

3. Yuka Karasawa; The impact of betel quid chewing during pregnancy on pregnancy outcomes in Bhutan; London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine University of London;; October 2016

4. C de Costa, A R Griew; Effects of betel chewing on pregnancy outcome; National Library of Medicine;; Feburary 1982

5. Rajendra Toprani, Daxesh Patel; Betel leaf: Revisiting the benefits of an ancient Indian herb; National Library of Medicine;; July 2013

Also Read:

Fennel Seeds during Pregnancy
Can You Eat Tulsi when Pregnant?
Eating Curry Leaves (Kadi Patta) in Pregnancy

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