Betel nut (Bengali Supari)

Botanical Name : Areca catechu L. (Arecaceae)
Family: Arecaceae
Genus:     Areca
Species: A. catechu
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Arecales

English names: Areca palm, Areca nut, Betel nut, Pinang palm.

Sanskrit names: Gubak, Phalam, Poag, Pooga, Poogi.

Vernacular names: Asm : Tambul; Ben: Supari, Gua; Guj : Supaari; Hin : Kasaili,

Supari; Kan : Adike, Bette; Kon : Maddi; Mal: Adakka, Pugam, Pakka; Mar: Supari Ori : Gua; Tam: Kamubu, Pakku; Tel: Poke, Vakka.

Synonyms:Amaska, areca nut, arecoline, arequier, betal, betelnusspalme, betel quid, chavica etal, gutkha, hmarg, maag, marg, mava, mawa, pan, paan, Palmaceae (family), pan masala, pan parag, pinang, pinlang, Piper betel Linn. (leaf of vine used to wrap betel nuts), pugua, quid, Sting® (Tantric Corporation), supai, ugam

Trade names: Areca nut, Betel nut, Supari. There are over 150 trade types.

Habitat :Cultivated in the coastal regions of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka,East Indies. Myanmar and other tropical and subtropical countries.

Part Used:—The seed.
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Description:Tall, slender, unbranched palm with a crown of leaves; stem annulate; leaves pinnate with a conspicuous sheet; flowers in spadix, male many at the upper portion, female much longer and a few at the base; fruits are single-seeded berries with flesh and fibrous pericarp and a stony seed, 3.8-5 em long, smooth, orange or scarlet when ripe.

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A handsome tree cultivated in all the warmer parts of Asia for its yellowish-red fruits the size of a hen’s egg, containing the seed about the size of an acorn, conical shape with flattened base and brownish in colour externally; internally mottled like a nutmeg. The seeds are cut into narrow pieces and rolled inside Betel Pepper leaf, rubbed over with lime and chewed by the natives. They stain the lips and teeth red and also the excrement, they are hot and acrid when chewed.

Betel nut is commercially available in dried, cured and natural forms. Considered an auspicious ingredient in Hinduism, it is used along with betel leaf in religious ceremonies and also while honoring individuals. Betel nuts are chewed for their effects as a mildly euphoric stimulant, attributed to the presence of relatively high levels of psychoactive alkaloids and terpeneols. Chewing betel nuts increases the capacity to work, also causes a hot sensation in the body, heightened alertness and sweating[citation needed]. It should be noted effect of chewing a few betel nuts is milder than drinking a cup of coffee. Chewing betel nuts is an important and popular cultural activity in many Asian countries including Palau. In East and North-east India, Betel nut is chewed with Paan (Betel leaf).Betel nuts are used in preparation of Ayurvedic medicines

Constituents of areca are potentially carcinogenic. Long-term use has been associated with oral submucous fibrosis (OSF), pre-cancerous oral lesions and squamous cell carcinoma. Acute effects of betel chewing include worsening of asthma, low blood pressure, and rapid heart beat..

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.

Medicinal Actions and 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.

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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.

Dosages and Preparations:—Of the powdered nut for tapeworm 1 to 2 teaspoonsful. Of the Fluid Extract of Areca Nut, 1 drachm. Of the Arecoline Hydrobromide, for colic in horses, 1 to 1 1/2 grains. Of the Arecoline Hydrobromide, for human use, 1/15 to 1/10 grains .

Uses based on some evidence:
Anemia:– Preliminary poor-quality research reports that betel nut chewing may lessen anemia in pregnant women. Reasons for this finding are not clear, and betel nut chewing may be unsafe during pregnancy.(Unclear scientific evidence for this use; )

Dental cavities:- Due to the known toxicities of betel nut use and the availability of other proven products for dental hygiene, the risks of betel nut may outweigh potential benefits.(Unclear scientific evidence for this use; )

Saliva stimulant:– Betel nut chewing may increase salivation. However, it is not clear if this is helpful for any specific health condition. Due to known toxicities from betel nut use, the risks may outweigh any potential benefits.(Unclear scientific evidence for this use; )

Schizophrenia:– Preliminary poor-quality studies in humans suggest improvements in symptoms of schizophrenia with betel nut chewing. However, side effects such as tremors and stiffness have been reported. More research is necessary before a firm conclusion can be drawn.(Unclear scientific evidence for this use; )

Stimulant:– Betel nut use refers to a combination of three ingredients: the nut of the betel palm ( Areca catechu ), part of the Piper betel vine, and lime. It is believed that small doses can lead to stimulant and euphoric effects, and betel nut chewing is popular due to these effects. Although all three ingredients may contribute to stimulant properties, most experts believe that chemicals in the betel nuts (alkaloids) may be responsible. Other substances that may be combined with betel nut chew, such as tobacco, may also contribute. However, chronic use of betel nuts may increase the risk of some cancers, and immediate effects can include worsening of asthma, high or low blood pressure, and abnormal heart rate. Based on the known toxicities of betel nut use, the risks may outweigh any potential benefits.(Unclear scientific evidence for this use; )

Stroke recovery:-Several poor-quality studies report the use of betel nut taken by mouth in patients recovering from stroke. In light of the potential toxicities of betel nut, additional evidence is needed in this area before a recommendation can be made (Unclear scientific evidence for this use; )

Ulcerative colitis:- Currently, there is a lack of satisfactory evidence to recommend the use of betel nut for ulcerative colitis. Based on the known toxicities of betel nut use, the risks may outweigh any potential benefits. (Unclear scientific evidence for this use; )
Traditional use: SANTAL(IndianTribals): (i) a patient of small pox is given to eat the areca nut when the pustules subside; (ii) a mixture for biliary colic is prepared with areca nut as a constituent; (iii) an ointment for chancre and syphilis is made by pestling areca nut with the root of Gymnema hirsutus, leaf of Piper betel and then cooking the same in mustard oil or butter; TRIBALS also use this plant in rhagadas, venereal sores, syphilis, dysentery, cholera, small pox and for fractured bones.

References to this plant are found in the BHAGVA TA along with the plants of Musa paradisica and Borassus fIabellifer. CHARAKA SAMHITA : Fruit: useful in the diseases caused by bile; SUSHRUTA SAMHITA : Fruit: beneficial in the diseases caused by phlegm; but overuse of this may distort voice of a man; CHACRADATTA : Paste of unripe fruit: may be used as liniment; Extract of unripe fruit: useful in small pox; HARITA SAMHITA : sesame oil in which extract of unripe fruit has been boiled should be used; A YURVEDA : various preparations of unripe and ripe nuts are useful in toothache, pyorrhea, gum diseases, in treatment of worms, while extract of young leaf mixed with mustard oil is useful as liniment in rheumatism; BRAHMAVAIVARTA PURANA : brushing the teeth with twig of this plant is beneficial; AGNI PURANA : (i) immortality can be attained by consuming decoction of this plant along with the powder of root, bark, leaf and fruit of margosa and juice of Wedelia calendulacea; (ii) alkaloids of this plant are beneficial medicine.

UNANI: Ingradient of ‘Futal (Chalia)’.

Modern use: Nut: chewing facilitates salivation, it being a good source of fluoride prevents tooth decay, but constant use might cause oral carcinoma; shows antimicrobial activities; Aqueous extract of nut: exhibits vascoconstriction and adrenalin p.Qtentiation in rats; Extract of leaf and fruit: spasmogenic.

Other Species:—In Malabar Areca Dicksoni is found growing wild and is used by the poor as a substitute for the true Betel Nut (A. aleraceae). The Cabbage Palm, which grows profusely in the West Indies, derives its name from the bud topping the tall stem; this consists of leaves wrapped round each other as in the cabbage, the heart of which is white inside. It has a delicate taste and is cut and cooked as a vegetable, many of these beautiful palms being destroyed in this way. It is said that in the empty cavity a beetle lays its eggs. These turn into maggots which are eaten with great relish by the negroes of Guiana.

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Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://www.bsienvis.org/medi.htm#Anacardium%20occidentale
http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/areca056.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Areca_catechu

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