- You know how Peruvians chew coca leaves for a nice natural kick?
- Well, Indians love betel nut for similar reasons, namely due to the nut’s alkaloids. Of course, betel nut has other roles in Indian culture: it’s even mentioned in chapters of the kama sutra.
- This powerful little nut is also one of the world’s earliest psychoactive compounds.
Origin of Betel Nut:
Betel nut originated in the Philippines or Malasysia, but it owes its Latin name, “Areca cachu,” to the Indian coast. The areca palm fruit isn’t prized as much as the nut, but I would feel remiss listing the fruits of India without mentioning the betel nut.
Cultural Significance of Betel Nut:
- Betel nut is considered to be a holy plant in India, particularly in the Brahmin religion.
- The nuts are offered to guests as a sign of hospitality, and the leaves are given with turmeric and kumkum powder as a gift (often to newlyweds).
- This is because betel nuts are a sign of luck.
- The leaves are also offered to the gods during pujas.
FYI--According to “The Book of Edible Nuts,” “The Way of Ayrvedic Herbs,” and Intelihealth.com
--Its leaf contains anti-platelet and anti-inflammatory properties. Such properties may in fact help heart disease patients.
--The leaves also contain vitamin C and calcium, along with oil containing antiseptic properties.
--When powdered, it’s a carminative agent
--Betel nut is prescribed as treatment for dysentery, tapeworms and roundworms.
--Fishermen in Chennai spit betel nut onto wounds from Octopus
--The betel nut aids constipation, bloating, edema, and is a vermifuge
--Antioxidant content of betel nut prevents cellular degeneration
--Its leaves may treat back pain and arthritic pain
--Some findings show that betel nut may provide relief for sufferers of schizophrenia
--Studies indicate that betel nut might help stroke sufferers with improved speech, bladder control and muscle strength
--Studies show betel nut may remedy ulcerative colitis
--Betel nut’s antibacterial properties may assist with dental health. It used to be an ingredient in toothpaste for this reason.
Betel Nut-Hard (dried)
BETAL NUTS HERE IN THE WEST ARE MEANT TO BE SUCKED/CHEWED FOR A BURST OF ENERGY-ONLY A FEW MINUTES AT A TIME.
- You would NOT suck all day long---respect the plant and it will RESPECT you:)
Negative Health Effects of Betel Nut:
Ascertaining the health effects of betel nut is somewhat complicated. Most medical studies seldom measure the effects of betel nut by itself and instead choose to study paan (a composite of betel nut with other substances, notably tobacco—a well-known carcinogen).
According to the book, “Nuts and Seeds in Health and Disease Prevention, the possible short-term side effects of chewing betel nut are redness in the face (reported by many daring foreigners who chew the nut), flushing heat, nausea, dizziness, stomach upset, diarrhea, anaphylactic shock, headaches, muscle stiffness and dizziness.
Long-term health effects of chewing betel nut include eroded enamel and poor oral health, cancer of the neck, esophagus and mouth, respiratory problems, abnormal thyroid function, cirrhosis, hypertension, confusion, memory loss, muscle stiffness, rapid heart beat, elevated blood pressure, involuntary seizures of face and mouth, vision abnormalities, increased body secretions, fever, incontinence, malabsorption of nutrients, and increased birth risks in pregnant women.
Again, it’s difficult to say if these results arise from chewing only betel nut or if they are concluded from chewing tobacco-laced paan.