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 ?
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.
- Aiding in digestion.
- Other conditions.
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, kidney disease, chest pain, abnormal heart beat, low blood pressure, shortness of breath and rapid breathing, heart attack, coma, and death.
Special Precautions and Warnings
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, kidney disease, chest pain, abnormal heart beat, low blood pressure, shortness of breath and rapid breathing, heart attack, coma, and death. 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.
Drying medications (Anticholinergic drugs) interacts with BETEL NUT
Betel nut contains chemicals that can affect the brain and heart. Some drying medications can also affect the brain and heart. But betel nut works differently than drying medications. Betel nut 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).
Various medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer disease, and other conditions (Cholinergic drugs) interacts with BETEL NUT
Betel nut contains a chemical that affects the body. This chemical is similar to some medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer disease, and other conditions. Taking betel nut with these medications might increase the chance of side effects.
Some of these medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer disease, and other conditions include pilocarpine (Pilocar and others), donepezil (Aricept), tacrine (Cognex), and others.
Medications for depression (MAOIs) interacts with BETEL NUT
Betel nut might increase the amount of a chemical in the brain. This chemical is called serotonin. Some medications used for depression also increase serotonin. Taking betel nut with these medications used for depression might cause there to be too much serotonin. This could cause serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety.
Some of these medications used for depression include phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and others.
Doxorubicin (Adriamycin, others) interacts with BETEL NUT
There is some concern that betel nut might cause mouth sores in people being treated with doxorubicin for cancer. Until more is known, avoid betel nut if you are being treated with doxorubicin.
Be cautious with this combination
Chakrabarti, R. N., Dutta, K., Ghosh, K., and Sikdar, S. Uterine cervical dysplasia with reference to the betel quid chewing habit. Eur J Gynaecol.Oncol 1990;11(1):57-59. View abstract.
Chang, W. C., Hsiao, C. F., Chang, H. Y., Lan, T. Y., Hsiung, C. A., Shih, Y. T., and Tai, T. Y. Betel nut chewing and other risk factors associated with obesity among Taiwanese male adults. Int J Obes.(Lond) 2006;30(2):359-363. View abstract.
Chatrchaiwiwatana, S. Dental caries and periodontitis associated with betel quid chewing: analysis of two data sets. J Med Assoc Thai. 2006;89(7):1004-1011. View abstract.
Chen, G. S. and Chen, C. H. [A statistical analysis of oral squamous cell carcinoma]. Gaoxiong.Yi Xue.Ke.Xue.Za Zhi 1995;11(10):582-588. View abstract.
Chiang, W. T., Yang, C. C., Deng, J. F., and Bullard, M. Cardiac arrhythmia and betel nut chewing--is there a causal effect? Vet.Hum.Toxicol. 1998;40(5):287-289. View abstract.
Chitra, S., Ashok, L., Anand, L., Srinivasan, V., and Jayanthi, V. Risk factors for esophageal cancer in Coimbatore, southern India: a hospital-based case-control study. Indian J Gastroenterol. 2004;23(1):19-21. View abstract.
Chu, N. S. Cardiovascular responses to betel chewing. J Formos.Med Assoc 1993;92(9):835-837. View abstract.
Chu, N. S. Effect of betel chewing on RR interval variation. J Formos.Med Assoc 1995;94(3):106-110. View abstract.
Chung, F. M., Chang, D. M., Chen, M. P., Tsai, J. C., Yang, Y. H., Shieh, T. Y., Shin, S. J., Chen, T. H., Tai, T. Y., and Lee, Y. J. Areca nut chewing is associated with metabolic syndrome: role of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, leptin, and white blood cell count in betel nut chewing-related metabolic derangements. Diabetes Care 2006;29(7):1714. View abstract.
Cimolai N and Cimolai T. Severe iron deficiency anemia and gastrointestinal dysfunction associated with ingestion of pan masala. Journal of Dietary Supplements (J DIET SUPPL) 2008;5(3):305-309.
Dar, A. and Khatoon, S. Behavioral and biochemical studies of dichloromethane fraction from the Areca catechu nut. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1-1-2000;65(1):1-6. View abstract.
Deng, J. F., Ger, J., Tsai, W. J., Kao, W. F., and Yang, C. C. Acute toxicities of betel nut: rare but probably overlooked events. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 2001;39(4):355-360. View abstract.
Dowse, G. K. Betel-nut chewing and diabetes in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere. Diabetologia 1994;37(10):1062-1064. View abstract.
Epstein, R. J., Leung, T. W., and Cheung, P. S. Panmucositis and chemosensitisation associated with betel quid chewing during dose-dense adjuvant breast cancer chemotherapy. Cancer Chemother.Pharmacol 2006;58(6):835-837. View abstract.
Fendell, L. D. and Smith, J. R. Betel-nut-associated cancer: report of case. J Oral Surg 1970;28(6):455-456. View abstract.
Frewer, L. J. The effect of betel nut on human performance. P N G Med J 1990;33(2):143-145. View abstract.
Gerreth, K. [Tooth wear in Hindu betel nut chewers]. Przegl.Lek. 2006;63(10):882-886. View abstract.
Guh, J. Y., Chen, H. C., Tsai, J. F., and Chuang, L. Y. Betel-quid use is associated with heart disease in women. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85(5):1229-1235. View abstract.
Howden, G. F. The cariostatic effect of betel nut chewing. P N G Med J 1984;27(3-4):123-131. View abstract.
Huang, Z., Xiao, B., Wang, X., Li, Y., and Deng, H. Betel nut indulgence as a cause of epilepsy. Seizure. 2003;12(6):406-408. View abstract.
Hung, D. Z. and Deng, J. F. Acute myocardial infarction temporally related to betel nut chewing. Vet.Hum.Toxicol. 1998;40(1):25-28. View abstract.
Kiyingi KS and Saweri A. Betelnut chewing causes bronchoconstriction in some asthma patients. PNG Med J 1994;37(2):90-99.
Kiyingi, K. S. Betel-nut chewing may aggravate asthma. PNG Med J 1991;34(2):117-121. View abstract.
Kuruppuarachchi, K. A. and Williams, S. S. Betel use and schizophrenia. Br.J.Psychiatry 2003;182:455. View abstract.
Lan, T. Y., Chang, W. C., Tsai, Y. J., Chuang, Y. L., Lin, H. S., and Tai, T. Y. Areca nut chewing and mortality in an elderly cohort study. Am J Epidemiol. 3-15-2007;165(6):677-683. View abstract.
Lee, C. N., Jayanthi, V., McDonald, B., Probert, C. S., and Mayberry, J. F. Betel nut and smoking. Are they both protective in ulcerative colitis? A pilot study. Arq Gastroenterol. 1996;33(1):3-5. View abstract.
Mannan MA, Mohammad QD, Haqua A, and et al. Role of areca-catechu (betel-nut) in cerebrovascular disease: a double blind clinical trial. Bangladesh J Neuro 1988;4(2):46-51.
Mannan MA. Areca catechu for treatment of cerebrovascular disease (CVD). Neuroscience 1987;22(Suppl):S539.
Mannan, N., Boucher, B. J., and Evans, S. J. Increased waist size and weight in relation to consumption of Areca catechu (betel-nut); a risk factor for increased glycaemia in Asians in east London. Br J Nutr 2000;83(3):267-273. View abstract.
Moller, I. J., Pindborg, J. J., and Effendi, I. The relation between betel chewing and dental caries. Scand J Dent Res 1977;85(1):64-70. View abstract.
Nair, U. J., Nair, J., Friesen, M. D., Bartsch, H., and Ohshima, H. Ortho- and meta-tyrosine formation from phenylalanine in human saliva as a marker of hydroxyl radical generation during betel quid chewing. Carcinogenesis 1995;16(5):1195-1198. View abstract.
Nelson, B. S. and Heischober, B. Betel nut: a common drug used by naturalized citizens from India, Far East Asia, and the South Pacific Islands. Ann.Emerg.Med 1999;34(2):238-243. View abstract.
Pickwell, S. M., Schimelpfening, S., and Palinkas, L. A. 'Betelmania'. Betel quid chewing by Cambodian women in the United States and its potential health effects. West J Med 1994;160(4):326-330. View abstract.
Raghavan V and Baruah HK. Arecanut: India's popular masticatory--history, chemistry and utilization. Economic Botany 1958;12:315-345.
Schamschula, R. G., Adkins, B. L., Barmes, D. E., and Charlton, G. Betal chewing and caries experience in New Guinea. Community Dent.Oral Epidemiol 1977;5(6):284-286. View abstract.
Schullian D. Notes and Events. J Hist Med 1984;39:65-68.
Sheikh, M. Y., Rizvi, I. H., and Ahmed, I. Oesophageal carcinoma caused by betel nut. J Pak.Med Assoc 1992;42(6):145-146. View abstract.
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.
Talonu, N. T. Observations on betel-nut use, habituation, addiction and carcinogenesis in Papua New Guineans. P.N G.Med J 1989;32(3):195-197. View abstract.
Taufa T. Betel-Nut Chewing and Pregnancy. Papua New Guinea Med J 1988;31:229-233.
Taylor, R. F., al-Jarad, N., John, L. M., Conroy, D. M., and Barnes, N. C. Betel-nut chewing and asthma. Lancet 5-9-1992;339(8802):1134-1136. View abstract.
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.
Yen, A. M., Chen, L. S., Chiu, Y. H., Boucher, B. J., and Chen, T. H. A prospective community-population-registry based cohort study of the association between betel-quid chewing and cardiovascular disease in men in Taiwan (KCIS no. 19). Am J Clin Nutr 2008;87(1):70-78. View abstract.
Yen, A. M., Chiu, Y. H., Chen, L. S., Wu, H. M., Huang, C. C., Boucher, B. J., and Chen, T. H. A population-based study of the association between betel-quid chewing and the metabolic syndrome in men. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;83(5):1153-1160. View abstract.
Yin, X. M., Peng, J. Y., and Gao, Y. J. [Clinical study on the relationship between tooth abrasion and the habits of chewing betel nut]. Hunan.Yi.Ke.Da.Xue.Xue.Bao. 2003;28(2):171-173. View abstract.
Akhtar S, Sheikh AA, Qureshi HU. Chewing areca nut, betel quid, oral snuff, cigarette smoking and the risk of oesophageal squamous-cell carcinoma in South Asians: a multicentre case-control study. Eur J Cancer. 2012;48(5):655-61. View abstract.
Chen YY, Fang WH, Wang CC, et al. Detrimental association between betel nut chewing and colorectal polyps in adult populations. PLoS One 2018;13(10):e0206383. View abstract.
Chiu CS, Tsai YL. Cheilitis granulomatosa associated with allergic contact dermatitis to betel quid. Contact Dermatitis. 2008;58(4):246-7. View abstract.
Cox SC, Walker DM. Oral submucous fibrosis. A review. Aust Dent J 1996;41:294-9. View abstract.
Gilani, A. H., Ghayur, M. N., Saify, Z. S., Ahmed, S. P., Choudhary, M. I., and Khalid, A. Presence of cholinomimetic and acetylcholinesterase inhibitory constituents in betel nut. Life Sci 10-1-2004;75(20):2377-2389. View abstract.
Gupta PC, Sinor PN, Bhonsle RB, et al. Oral submucous fibrosis in India: a new epidemic? Natl Med J India 1998;11:113-6. View abstract.
Li DF, Xu ZL, Yao J. A rare cause of esophageal mucosal and submucosal lesions. Rev Esp Enferm Dig 2020;112(2):158. View abstract.
Lopez-Vilchez, M. A., Seidel, V., Farre, M., Garcia-Algar, O., Pichini, S., and Mur, A. Areca-nut abuse and neonatal withdrawal syndrome. Pediatrics 2006;117(1):e129-e131. View abstract.
Sullivan RJ, Allen JS, Otto C, et al. Effects of chewing betel nut (Areca catechu) on the symptoms of people with schizophrenia in Palau, Micronesia. Br J Psychiatry 2000;177:174-8. View abstract.
Trivedy C, Warnakulasuriya S, Peters TJ. Areca nuts can have deleterious effects. BMJ 1999;318:1287. View abstract.
VanWyk CW. Oral submucous fibrosis. The South African experience. Indian J Dent Res 1997;8:39-45. View abstract.
Wang M, Yu SY, Lv ZT, Yao Y. Betel nut chewing and the risk of chronic kidney disease: evidence from a meta-analysis. Int Urol Nephrol 2018;50(6):1097-1104. View abstract.
You Might Also Like
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.
This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
© Therapeutic Research Faculty 2020.