Betel Leaf… Daun Sireh To The Rescue!


A FEW weeks ago Adam was complaining about an irritation in his left eye. Which I suspected was caused by the horrible haze. As it was already in the evening, going to see a doctor was out of question until the next day. And I didn’t have eye drop products handy to ease the irritation.

Then I remembered my mom was using betel leaf (or daun sireh as we locals call it), to ease irritation in her eyes. I asked her how to prepare the leaf. Easy, she said. Just take fresh leaf (thankfully, we have aplenty at mom’s garden), clean it and soak it in a cold/ tap water in a big bowl before squeeze/ extract the juice out. Once the juice was sufficient enough to dip the infected eye into the mixture (that’s why you need a big bowl. Yes, to fit your face onto it). Failing which, you can always try to run the juice liquid over your eye. It would be slightly painful for a few seconds but no worries, in no time your itchy eye will be back to normal. But for suspected conjunctivitis case, please do see your doctor the soonest to avoid any complications.

That’s one of many benefits of the betel leaf to fix minor problems faced at home that I have learned over the years.

My first introduction to daun sireh was almost seamlessly done. I remember seeing my late grandmother’s (Nyai) friends were chewing the leaves just like us chewing candy or peppermint chewing gum today. I also remember their stained teeth. Vividly.

Apart from Nyai’s friends and their stained teeth, being a Malay, where some of traditional rituals/cultures are still being widely practiced, there are so many ceremonies which involves this particular leaves in our daily life. And all of them are happy and joyous occasions. Something that we, kids, were looking forward too.

Betel leaf has been described from ancient times as an aromatic stimulant, astringent and aphrodisiac.

Betel chewing is widely practiced up to 10% of the world population uses it as a traditional medicine, stimulant and aphrodisiac. And the leaf has been used from ancient times in several common household remedies, because this plant can easily grow in the yard.

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In the old days many old women chewed this leaves to strengthen their teeth, they wrapped it first before being chewed. Apart from my late grandmother’s friends, I haven’t seen any woman who picked up the habit since.

Betel leaves can also be used to heal wounds. The juice of a few leaves should be extracted and applied to the wound. A betel leaf should then be wrapped over and bandaged. A single application will heal the wound within two days. Also for the nose bleeding. It because this leaf contains antiseptic substance that able to kill the germ.

There’s also a common uses for this leaves is as a genital wash, not by men, but by women. My late grandmother who came to this country as young beautiful, strong and fiesty woman, undoubtedly have been giving some health tips to her daughters including my mother. Hence, I could see women in my family have use it widely after giving birth. Apparently, they do so explicitly to make themselves healthier inside out and their husbands’ happier, undoubtedly.

Betel leaves are believed to help elasticity in women’s private parts, as well as treatment for dryness too. For women in their late twenties and thirties, the problem is not so much vaginal dryness but vaginal wetness or white discharge, that can cause itchiness and odor. As a remedy, just shred the leaves in big sizes, boil the leaves with a pinch of salt and use it to wash your private part. Use the mixture while it is still warm but be careful don’t scald your skin in the process. As it is being told to me, it’s not only for our own pleasure but for (the pleasure) of our partners.

The application of leaves smeared with oil is said to promote secretion of milk when applied on the breast of lactating women.

Warm poultice of the leaves and coconut oil is applied on the chest of children in catarrhal and pulmonary affections.

I honestly believe this article is an ongoing process as I am sure I will remember other significant details/moments that I have with this special plant…Will keep you posted definitely. Till then, read my scribble on Daun Sireh and its significant in Malay culture in my next post… A