ARECA Overview Information
Areca is a plant. The nut is used to make medicine. Areca nut is chewed alone or in the form of quids, a mixture of tobacco, powdered or sliced areca nut, and slaked lime wrapped in the leaf of “betel” vine (Piper betel).
Areca is used for treatment of a mental disorder called schizophrenia and an eye disorder called glaucoma; as a mild stimulant; and as a digestive aid.
Some people use areca as a recreational drug because it speeds up the central nervous system (CNS).
In veterinary medicine, an extract of areca is used for expelling tapeworms in cattle, dogs, and horses; to empty animals’ bowels; and for treating intestinal colic in horses.
How does it work?
It is thought that areca affects chemicals in the brain and other parts of the central nervous system.
- Schizophrenia. Developing evidence suggests that areca might be helpful for schizophrenia. Some patients with schizophrenia who chew areca nut seem to have less severe symptoms.
- Aiding in digestion.
- Other conditions.
ARECA Side Effects & Safety
Not enough is known about the safety of taking areca by mouth short-term. But areca is considered UNSAFE when taken by mouth long-term or in high doses. Some of the chemicals in areca have been associated with cancer. Other chemicals are poisonous. Eating 8-30 grams of areca nut can cause death.
Chewing the areca nut can make your mouth, lips, and stool turn red. It can cause stimulant effects similar to caffeine and tobacco use. It can also cause more severe effects including vomiting, diarrhea, gum problems, increased saliva, coma, and death.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking areca by mouth is UNSAFE for anyone, due to concerns about cancer and toxicity. But pregnant and breast-feeding women have additional risks. Areca can affect the central nervous system and this might endanger a pregnancy. Chemicals in areca might pass into breast milk and harm a nursing infant. Stay on the safe side and avoid using areca if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Asthma: Areca might make asthma worse.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Drying medications (Anticholinergic drugs) interacts with ARECA
Areca contains chemicals that can affect the brain and heart. Some of these drying medications can also affect the brain and heart. But areca works differently than drying medications. Areca might decrease the effects of drying medications.
Some of these drying medications include atropine, scopolamine, and some medications used for allergies (antihistamines), and for depression (antidepressants).
- Procyclidine interacts with ARECA
Procyclidine can affect chemicals in the body. Areca can also affect chemicals in the body. But areca has the opposite effect of procyclidine. Taking areca along with procyclidine might decrease the effectiveness of procyclidine.
- Various medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions (Cholinergic drugs) interacts with ARECA
Areca contains a chemical that affects the body. This chemical is similar to some medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions. Taking areca with these medications might increase the chance of side effects.
Some of these medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions include pilocarpine (Pilocar and others), donepezil (Aricept), tacrine (Cognex), and others.
The appropriate dose of areca depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for areca. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.