As more and more consumers are looking for folk remedies and alternative medicine in an effort to further their health, the possibility exists that a consumer may end up stumbling across a highly touted recipe that is now proven to be dangerous. One example for this possibility is the use of the areca nut and the betel leaf.
In India, the areca nut is quite frequently sliced and wrapped inside betel leafs, making it a stimulating, drug-like bite that is chewed. The Maldives, on the other hand, combine the areca nut with known breath fresheners of cardamom and cloves to add other flavors to the mix. Various other countries have put their own spin on this concoction, adding anything from lime to tobacco and cloves.
Yet studies have shown that none of the combinations of the areca nut are truly safe for human consumption. When combined with betel leaves and the various ingredients that are added, the mix turns into a carcinogen that leads to mouth and also cancer stomach. Even the raw nut itself has been linked to cancer, although to a much lesser extent than when used in combination with other substances.
In cases where the areca nut is a mere token ingredient and the betel leaves are overpowering the mixture, there is a very real danger of cancer that also affects the reproductive organs and the lungs. Since continued use will have an effect on the blood sugar, adult onset diabetes may also be considered one of the side effects this folk remedy has to offer.
Although there is some truth to the assertion that chewing betel and areca nut can neutralize bad breath, the mix has the side effect of staining the gums and also the teeth an unbecoming orange. In decades gone by, this was sometimes though of being a sign of beauty in Indian culture, but these times are coming to an end.
Even scientists concede that there are benefits to chewing these substances. For one they mention the freshening of the breath and for another the prevention of cavities. At the same time, there is the danger of mouth cancer as well as the gradual diseasing of the gums that eventually recede from the teeth. Although the breath may be freshened and the teeth protected from cavities, these same teeth are now in danger of falling out.
These health warnings go a long way to demonstrate that a few of the much beloved and long held beliefs passed on through the generations are indeed little more than old wives’ tales and actually could be quite dangerous. There is little doubt that at the time when the suggestions were made, the positive effects were clearly observed and the negative effects perhaps were not as readily seen.
Nonetheless, before you choose to go the homeopathic route to cure bad breath, consult your physician and get a learned evaluation. She or he may know something about established or even new research of which you are not aware and it may protect you from making a serious mistake, and injuring the health of your mouth as well as your body.