BETLE NUT PALM
|Scientific names||Common names|
|Areca alba Rumph.||Areca nut (Engl.)|
|Areca catechu Linn.||Betel nut palm (Engl.)|
|Betel quid (Engl.)|
|Boa (Ilk., It., Ign.)|
|Bua (Ibn., Pang.)|
|Ta Fu-p’i (Chin.)|
Areca nut is the fourth most commonly used psychoactive subtance in the world, chewed regularly by at least 10% of the population, with high prevalences in South and Southeast Asia.
Erect, solitary tree growing to 25 meters high with annular scars. Leaves about 2-3 meters long with numerous leaflets, 60-90cm long. Spadix is branched and compressed. Fruits are ovoid, smooth, orange to red when ripe; 4-6 cm long, with a fleshy pericarp and fibrous mesocarp.
Cultivated throughout the settled areas. Spontaneous in some places.
• Alkaloids – arecaine, 0.1%, arecoline, 0.2%, arecaidine, arecolidine, guvacoline, guvacine, isoguvacine; tannin, 15%; red fat, 14%; resin; choline; catechu.
• Fruit flesh on seed contains the alkaloid arecoline with psychoactive properties and chewing produces euphoria, increased alertness, sweating, salivation.
• Contains a large quantity of tannin. Also contains gallic acid, a fixed oil gum, a little volatile oil and lignin.
• Study yielded arecholine, choline, arecaine, aricaidine, catechu, guavacin and a-catechin.
• The tanin is located almost entirely in the kernel which decreases as the nut ripens.
• Four alkaloids: arecoline, arecain, guracaine and another in very small amounts.
• Arecoline resembles pilocarpine and muscarine in its effect.
• Other alkaloids in betel nut are arecaine, guvacoline and guvacine.
• Also contains phenolic compounds: hydroxychavicol and saffrole 12, tannin, resin, cholic and catechu.
• Young seeds are laxative.
• Vermifuge mature seeds for expeling tapeworms.
• Young nuts astringent from the tannic and gallic acids.
• Fresh nut is somewhat intoxicating and produces giddiness in some.
• Aromatic, cooling, emmenagogue, purgative, digestive, diuretic, laxative, astringent, antifungal, antibacterial, antiinflammatory, antioxidant.
• Considered anticonvulsant, oxytoxic, antifertility, anthelmintic, antiviral, antiulcer.
• Arecholine is a highly toxic substance, and its pharmacologic action resembles that of muscarine, pelletierine and pilocarpine. It violently stimulates the peristaltic movements of the intestine, produces constriction of the bronchial muscles which can be overcome by adrenaline or atropine. It is a poweful sialagogue and stimulates sweat secretion.
• Arecholine considered to have wound healing activity.
Parts used and preparation
· Cabbage (ubod) is edible, raw or cooked.
· In the Philippines, the buyo is regarded as tonic and general stimulant, but harmful with excessive use which can cause loss of appetite and salivation.
· Fruit in decoction considered abortifacient, the nut as an emmenagogue.
· Tender seeds used as purgative; grated ripened ones as vermifuge. Externally used as astringent.
· Sprains, bruises, contusions – Crush leaves, mix with a little coconut oil, warm and apply on affected area.
· Tooth whitener: Carbonize and powder a kernel and rub on teeth.
· Tapeworm infestation: 1 glassful of 5% decoction as enema to be retained for one hour. Also, decoction of kernels boiled 20-30 minutes; for less than 12 years of age, 6 kernels (30 g); over 12 years old, 10-12 kernels (50-60 g); for adults, 16-18 kernels (80-90 g). The bunga may be mixed with kalabasa, boil for 1 hour, maintaining 2-glass volume for oral intake.
· In excess, nuts can cause vomiting and diarrhea; intoxicating to some.
· Young nut is useful in bowel complaints. Tincture used as astringent gargle, and when diluted with water, useful for bleeding gums and may be used for stopping water discharges from the vagina. It is also used for stopping the pyrosis (heartburn) of pregnancy.
· Dried nut is stimulant, astringent and taenifuge. It increases the flow of saliva; sweetens the breath, strengthens the gums and produces mild exhilaration.
· Fruit in decoction considered abortifacient.
• In Ayurvedic medicine, the nut is used for headaches, fever and rheumatism.
• In China, used to treat parasitic infection. Also, used for dyspepsia, constipation, beriberi and edema. The bark is used for choleraic affections, for flatulence, dropsical and obstructive diseases of the digestive tract.
• Ointment made from finely powdered catechu and lard used for chronic ulcerations.
• In southern India, dried fruits are powdered and heated with coconut oil and applied topically on burns.
• Fruit mixed with juice of Commelina benghalensis and stem juice of Canna indica and applied topically on wounds
• In Malaya, young green shoots are used as abortifacient in early pregnancy.
• In India, juice of young leaves mixed with oil is used externally for lumbago. Also used for urinary disorders and reported to have aphrodisiac properties.
• In India and China the areca nut has been used as anthelmintic since time immemorial.
· Betel chewing: In the Philippines, as well as in Indo-Malayan and Polynesian regions, the Areca nut is extensively used for chewing with lime and ikmo leaves (Piper betel) or litlit (Piper retrofactum).
· Poison: In the Dutch East Indies the root is shredded, steeped in water and pounded to extract the juice, and used as poison in food or drink.
• Antioxidant: It has been long believed that the areca seed is a carcinogen causing buccal cancer, an effect that comes from N-nitrosoamine from chewing. The study also showed the seed has strong radical-scavengiing antioxidant benefit. The water and methanol extracts of the seeds in various ages show a higher % tannin and total phenols than other parts of the tree extracts.
• Wound Healing: Study on different wound models in Wister rats showed the alkaloid and polyphenols could be used to enhance healing of skin graft surgery, leg ulcers and burn wounds.
• Anti-Aging: A study showed that Areca catechu extract (CC-516) had anti-aging effects – improving skin hydration, skin elasticity and skin wrinkles suggesting a potential use for cosmetics.
• Anti-Schizophrenic Effects: (1) Study results indicate that betel chewing may exert a beneficial effect on the primary symptoms of schizophrenia, attributed to the pharmacologic effect of the abundant betel nut alkaloid, arecoline. (2) Study results indicate betel chewing is associated with less severe symptoms of schizophrenia. (3) Male high-consumption betel chewers had signicantly milder positive symptoms than low-consumption chewers over 1 year. Betel chewing was associated with tobacco use but not with cannabis or alcohol. It was not associated with global health, social functioning or movement disorders.
• Betel Quid Effects: (1) Areca alkaloids act as competitive inhibitors of g-aminobutyric acid receptors in the brain, cardiovascular system and pancreas, possibly increasing the appetite or altering insulin secretion. (2) BQ components induce keratinocytes to secrete tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-a) and interleukin-6 which may provoke chronic inflammation. The muscarinic action of arecoline, the most abundant betel nut alkaloid, is the most promising pharmacologic explanation for the beneficial effect.
• Nitrosated Compounds / Arecal Alkaloids / Metabolic Effects: Nitrosated derivatives of arecal alkaloid, proven carcinogens in animals, also increase the risk of tumors in man. Nitrosated compounds are also diabetogenic in mice producing type2 diabetes with central obesity with increases in markers of inflammation and cardiovascular damage.
• Metabolic Syndrome Association: Report shows BQ chewing has detrimental effects on selected components of the metabolic syndrome and induction of inflammatory cytokines and factors, possibly increasing the risks for the development of the metabolic syndrome. Study showed a higher incidence of central obesity, hypertriglyceridemia, dysglycemia and metabolic syndrome among betel quid chewers than non-chewers.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Analgesic / Free Radical Scavenging Activity: Study on A. catechu showed an anti-inflammatory effect on carrageenan-induced edema in mice and rats. On analgesic activity, the crude extract showed a dose-dependent inhibitory effect on formalin-induced nociception in mice and acetic acid-induced writhing in rats, similar to aspirin. In DPPH assay, it showed free radical scavenging activity.
• Reducing Power / Antiradical Activity: In the study, the methanolic extract of A. catechu exhibited strong antiradical activities and reducing power. The extract yielded a significant amount of phenols and flavonoids.
• Cirrhosis and Hepatocellular Cancer Risk in Betel Chewers: Study showed an increased risk of cirrhosis and hepatocellular cancer among betel chewers free of hepatitis B/C infections. Risks were synergistically additive to those of hepatitis B/C infections.
• Hepatoprotective / Antioxidant: Study showed aqueous extracts from seeds of A. catechu and nutgalls of Quercus infectoria exhibited potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Treatment of rats reversed oxidative damage in hepatic tissues induced by CCl4.
• Anti-Fatigue Effects: Study showed the water and methanol extracts of A. catechu and betel quid could prolong swimming time of mice, decrease the concentration of serum nitrogen and lactic acid, increase the liver glycogen content of mice after swimming.
• Arecoline / Colonic Motility Effects : Study showed arecoline enhanced the contraction of the longitudinal smooth muscle rat colon in a dose-dependent manner. Results suggest that arecoline increases colonic motility via the M3 receptor, which depends on the influx of Ca2+.
• Anovulatory / Abortifacient Effects : Study of ethanol extract of A. catechu showed a significant decrease in the duration of estrus and a significant increase in proestrus. In the evaluation of its abortifacient effect, the mean percentage of abortion was significantly increased.
• Suppression Effects on Naloxone-Precipitated Morphine Withdrawal: Study showed the dichlormethane fraction was effective in alleviating withdrawal jumping in morphine-dependent mice, one of the most common signs used to assess the severity of morphine withdrawal. The fraction also inhibited MAO-A and acted as anti-depressant, increasing bioavailability and enhanced neurotransmission of monoaminergic, serotonergic and noradrenergic systems in the brain. Activation of these systems reduce the severity of opiate withdrawal.
Risks of mouth cancer in chronic chewers.