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Betel Palm

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  • Botanical: Areca catechu
  • Family: Palmacea
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Betel Palm

Botanical

Areca catechu

Family

Palmacea

Known as

Areca Palm, Areca Nut Palm, Indian Nut, Pinang Palm, Bunga, Pinang, Betelnusspalme, Betelpalme, Katechupalme, Arekapalme

Old Use

medical, culinary

Parts Used

seed

Aroma

fresh

Medicinal

wounds, tapeworms

Stomach & Intestinal

tapeworms, worm

Skin & Hair

wounds

Properties

astringent

Description

Areca catechu is a medium-sized and palm tree, growing straight to 20 m tall, with a trunk 10–15 cm in diameter. The leaves are 1.5–2 m long, pinnate, with numerous, crowded leaflets.

 

Properties & Uses

Areca Nut is aromatic and astringent and is said to intoxicate when first taken. The natives chew these nuts all day. Whole shiploads are exported annually from Sumatra, Malacca, Siam and Cochin China. In this country Areca Nut is made into a dentrifrice on account of its astringent properties. Catechu is often made by boiling down the seeds of the plant to the consistency of an extract, but the proper Catechu used in Britain is produced from the Acacia catechu. The flowers are very sweet-scented and in Borneo are used in medicines as charms for the healing of the sick. In India the nut has long been used as a taenifuge for tapeworm. The action of Arecain resembles that of Muscarine and Pilocarpine externally, internally used it contracts the pupils.

Arecoline Hydrobromide, a commercial salt, is a stronger stimulant to the salivary glands than Pilocarpine and a more energetic laxative than Eserine. It is used for colic in horses.

Cautions

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking betel nut by mouth is LIKELY UNSAFE for anyone, due to concerns about cancer and toxicity. But pregnant and breast-feeding women have additional risks. Betel nut can affect the central nervous system and this might endanger a pregnancy. Chemicals in betel nut might pass into breast milk and harm a nursing infant. Stay on the safe side and avoid using betel nut if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Asthma: Betel nut might make asthma worse.

Slow heart rate (bradycardia): Betel nut might slow down the heart beat. This could be a problem in people who already have a slow heart rate.

Gastrointestinal tract blockage: Betel nut might cause “congestion” in the intestines. This might cause problems in people who have a blockage in their intestines.

Ulcers: Betel nut might increase secretions in the stomach and intestines. There is concern that this could worsen ulcers.

Lung conditions: Betel nut might increase fluid secretions in the lung. There is concern that this could worsen lung conditions, such as asthma or emphysema.

Seizures: There is concern that betel nut might increase the risk of seizures.

Urinary tract obstruction: Betel nut might increase secretions in the urinary tract. There is concern that this could worsen urinary obstruction.

Distribution

The palm is believed to have originated in the Philippines, but is widespread in cultivation and is considered naturalized in southern China (Guangxi, Hainan, Yunnan), Taiwan, India, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, New Guinea, many of the islands in the Pacific Ocean, and also in the West Indies.

Constituents

Areca Nut contains a large quantity of tannin, also gallic acid, a fixed oil gum, a little volatile oil, lignin, and various saline substances. Four alkaloids have been found in Areca Nut - Arecoline, Arecain, Guracine, and a fourth existing in very small quantity. Arecoline resembles Pilocarpine in its effects on the system. Arecaine is the active principle of the Areca Nut.

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.