Piper betle Linn

Family ► Piperaceae.

Habitat ► Cultivated in warmer and damper parts of India; Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala.

English ► Betel pepper.

Ayurvedic ► Taambula, Naagvallari, Naagini, Taambulvalli, Saptashiraa, Bhujangalataa.

Siddha/Tamil ► Vetrilai Nagavalli, Kammaaruvetritai.

Action ► Leaf—stimulant, carminative, astringent, antiseptic. Essential oil from leaves—antispasmodic, antiseptic. Used in respiratory catarrhs. Fruit—bechic.

The leaves afforded beta- and gam-ma-sitosterol, hentriacontane, pen-tatriacontane, n-triacontanol, stearic acid and chavicol. The essential oil from leaves contained carvacrol, euge-nol, chavicol, allyl catechol, cineole, estragol, caryophyllene, cardinene, p-cymene and eugenol methyl ether.

Piper chaba Hunter non-Blume.

Administration of the leaf extract resulted in decreased tumour burden and tumour incidence and a delay in the onset of mammary tumour in Wistar rats.

The alcoholic extract of the leaf stalk is reported to show antispermatogenic and antiandrogenic effect in male albino rats.

The essential oil exhibited hypoten-sive, cardiac as well as respiratory depressant and cardiotonic properties.

The leaf showed antifungal and antibacterial activity. The antiseptic activity is attributed to chavicol.

Key application ► In diseases of the spleen, chlorosis, diseases of the abdomen. colic, worm infestation. (The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India.)

Java long pepper is similar in composition to black pepper; it contains less piperine and volatile oil (piperine 4.5 and volatile oil 1.5%).

The stem is used as a substitute for Piper longum root. It contains the alkaloids piperine and piplartine. Beta-sitosterol, glycosides, glucose and fructose and mucilage have also been reported. Active principles show muscle relaxant property.

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