Do you remember Asha Bhosle’s famous song Paan Khaye Saiyan Hamaro in Teesri Kasam? Or Amitabh Bacchan’s Khaike Paan Banaraswalla in Don? If things go as per plan, then Betel Leaf, also known as paan, will get an international tag because of its anti-inflammatory and pro-regenerative effect soon.
A research carried out in the Immunobiology and Regenerative Medicine Research laboratory of Calcutta University’s Zoology department has identified a single molecule that is extremely potent for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects, making it a likely candidate for developing therapeutic strategy in various diseases where oxidative stress and inflammation have occurred.
Seeing the tremendous potential of paan, an Indian businessman from South Africa got in touch with the laboratory and expressed his desire to sell deconstructed paan and paan products in the Middle East and England, where selling of betel leaf is banned. Businessmen from Singapore, Vietnam and Malayasia have also shown keen interest in the products.
Professor Ena Ray Banerjee, head of the laboratory where the research is going on said, “If [the research is] successful, paan can lead to setting up of industries of functional food and nutraceuticals, where the turnover is in crores of rupees.
Paan has been used in India as an anti-halitosis agent, a mouth freshener and also as an anti-bacterial agent since time immemorial. It is mildly narcotic and a stimulant, and has been consumed in India for hundreds of years. Some use paan as a digestive agent. However, it is also said that excessive chewing of paan can lead to gum problems and even cause gum cancer.
Against this backdrop, a research was taken up by professor Ray Banerjee and her team. Nine varieties of betel leaves were collected from different parts of Howrah, South 24 parganas and East Midnapore. After analysis, it was found that five varieties are pro-inflammatory and harmful to the human system. But three varieties are anti-inflammatory and have pro-regenerative effect. The good varieties of paan are found in East Midnapore and Howrah.
Now, the genomic coding and proteomic analysis of paan are going on using advanced technology. The properties are codified for identification and bio resource generation.
Ray Banerjee said if successful it would change the socio-economic condition of the people who cultivate betel leaves in brackish water. The cultivators often come from economically backward families. However, as three varieties could have tremendous potential in the not too distant future, paan would receive an international tag leading to improvement in the living condition of the cultivators.