BETEL NUT

OTHER NAME(S):

Arec, Aréca, Areca catechu, Areca Nut, Areca Palm, Arecanut Palm, Aréquier, Betel Nut, Betel Quid, Betelnut Palm, Bing Lang, Chique de Bétel, Gubak, Noix de Bétel, Nuez de Areca, Nuez de Betel, Palmier d'Arec, Palmier à Bétel, Palmier à Canne Jaune, Palmier Doré, Pinag, Pinang Palm, Pinlag, Poogiphalam, Puga, Supari, Tantusara.<br/><br/>

Overview

Overview Information

Betel nut is the nut that comes from a plant called Areca. It is sometimes used to make medicine. Betel nut is chewed alone or in the form of quids, a mixture of tobacco, powdered or sliced betel nut, and other ingredients.

Betel nut is used for schizophrenia, a group of eye disorders that can lead to vision loss (glaucoma), poor digestion, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses. Using betel nut might also be unsafe.

Some people use betel nut as a recreational drug because it speeds up the central nervous system (CNS).

How does it work?

Betel nut seems to affect certain chemicals in the brain and other parts of the central nervous system.

Uses

Uses & Effectiveness?

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Schizophrenia. Early research suggests that chewing betel nut might reduce symptoms in some people with schizophrenia. But using betel nut for a long time can be unsafe.
  • Stroke. Early research suggests that taking a solution containing betel nut extract might improve speech, strength, and bladder function in people who have had a stroke.
  • Glaucoma.
  • Aiding in digestion.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of betel nut for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: There isn't enough reliable information to know if betel nut is safe to take in small doses or for a short time. But betel nut is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken long-term or in high doses. Some of the chemicals in betel nut have been associated with cancer. Other chemicals are poisonous. Eating 8-30 grams of betel nut can cause death.

Chewing betel 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, chest pain, abnormal heart beat, low blood pressure, shortness of breath and rapid breathing, heart attack, coma, and death.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

It's LIKELY UNSAFE for anyone to take betel nut by mouth for more than a short time. But betel nut is especially dangerous for people with the following conditions:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking betel nut by mouth is LIKELY UNSAFE. 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.

Heart disease: People with heart disease might have an increased risk of having a heart attack if they use betel nut. If you have heart disease, do not use betel nut.

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

Stomach 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.

Interactions

Interactions?

Moderate Interaction

Be cautious with this combination

!
  • Drying medications (Anticholinergic drugs) interacts with BETEL NUT

    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.<br /> Some of these drying medications include atropine, scopolamine, and some medications used for allergies (antihistamines), and for depression (antidepressants).

  • Procyclidine interacts with BETEL NUT

    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 BETEL NUT

    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.<br /> Some of these medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions include pilocarpine (Pilocar and others), donepezil (Aricept), tacrine (Cognex), and others.

Dosing

Dosing

The appropriate dose of betel nut 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 betel nut. 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.

View References

REFERENCES:

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  • Sullivan, R. J., Andres, S., Otto, C., Miles, W., and Kydd, R. The effects of an indigenous muscarinic drug, Betel nut (Areca catechu), on the symptoms of schizophrenia: a longitudinal study in Palau, Micronesia. Am J Psychiatry 2007;164(4):670-673. View abstract.
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  • Tsai, J. F., Chuang, L. Y., Jeng, J. E., Ho, M. S., Hsieh, M. Y., Lin, Z. Y., and Wang, L. Y. Betel quid chewing as a risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma: a case-control study. Br J Cancer 3-2-2001;84(5):709-713. View abstract.
  • Tung, T. H., Chiu, Y. H., Chen, L. S., Wu, H. M., Boucher, B. J., and Chen, T. H. A population-based study of the association between areca nut chewing and type 2 diabetes mellitus in men (Keelung Community-based Integrated Screening programme No. 2). Diabetologia 2004;47(10):1776-1781. View abstract.
  • van Wyk, C. W., Stander, I., Padayachee, A., and Grobler-Rabie, A. F. The areca nut chewing habit and oral squamous cell carcinoma in South African Indians. A retrospective study. S.Afr.Med J 1993;83(6):425-429. View abstract.
  • Vimokesant, S. L., Hilker, D. M., Nakornchai, S., Rungruangsak, K., and Dhanamitta, S. Effects of betel nut and fermented fish on the thiamin status of northeastern Thais. Am J Clin Nutr 1975;28(12):1458-1463. View abstract.
  • Wiesner, D. M. Betel-nut withdrawal. Med J Aust. 4-20-1987;146(8):453. View abstract.
  • Wilson, L. G. Cross-cultural differences in indicators of improvement from psychosis: the case of betel nut chewing. J Nerv.Ment.Dis. 1979;167(4):250-251. View abstract.
  • Wu, K. D., Chuang, R. B., Wu, F. L., Hsu, W. A., Jan, I. S., and Tsai, K. S. The milk-alkali syndrome caused by betelnuts in oyster shell paste. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 1996;34(6):741-745. View abstract.

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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

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