Tag Archives: Areca Nut

Cancer on Sale

Many Indians like to chew paan — meetha or khatta — after a good meal. It aids digestion, freshens the breath and acts as a mild stimulant. The soporific effects of the heavy meal are counterbalanced. Best of all, it is also believed to have aphrodisiac properties when mixed with the right spices in the right proportion. This may be the reason why it is often offered after a traditional wedding feast to the newlyweds and departing guests.
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Paan may be prepared at home or bought from the ubiquitous paan shop. Making a good paan involves smearing mineral slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) on betel leaves, and then adding spices, flavouring substances and pieces of supari or areca nut. After that, the leaf is folded around these ingredients and held together by a clove. Tobacco may also be added. Some habitual paan consumers push the prepared leaf into the cleft between the cheeks and the gums and leave it there. Chewing paan is dangerous, but when the stuff is mixed with tobacco, it is lethal.

Sometimes tobacco may be flavoured and chewed alone without a betel leaf. Such stuff is known by various names such as paan masala and gutka. Pieces of supari may also be sweetened and eaten separately.

Supari, paan and chewing tobacco are often considered harmless and non-addictive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Such stuff suppresses appetite and produces a “high”. What’s more, the nitosamines (cancer causing chemicals found in tobacco, betel leaves and supari) released can precipitate type 2 diabetes.

The lime in paan acts to keep the active ingredients (polyphenols, alkaloids and tannins) in the betel nut in its freebase form. The tobacco contains nicotine and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Paan may also contain sugar. One of the chemicals in the nut — called arecoline — promotes salivation. This facilitates rapid absorption of this chemical cocktail from under the tongue.

Paan turns the saliva orange red which stains the lips and teeth. Also, the sugar and various other chemicals destroy the enamel of the teeth. They eventually turn black and get ground down to the gums.

The chemicals released while chewing paan irritate the lips and cheeks. They cause changes in the cells, leading them to become precancerous. The lining of the inner cheek turns white (leukoplakia). It may start to bleed or form an ulcer that eats away into the flesh and opens out into the cheek. A tumour may form and protrude into the mouth. As the carcinogen-laden saliva proceeds towards the stomach through the esophagus (tube leading to the stomach), its lining becomes affected and cancer can occur there as well.

Chewing paan is an ancient tradition. The habit leads to cancers of the mouth or esophagus, which set in when the consumer is between 50 and 60 years. Generally, such people also follow an unhealthy lifestyle, a diet with little or no fresh fruits and vegetables, and inadequate exercise. Such cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in males in Assam. For Indian women in general, it is the second biggest reason for cancer. Mouth and esophageal cancer is relatively rare in other parts of the world.

Esophageal cancer is difficult to diagnose in the early stages as the symptoms are often vague and non-specific. Tiredness and fatigue may make the person lethargic. There may be chest pain or unexplained loss of weight which may make the person appear ill. Later, as the tumour grows, it blocks the lumen of the esophagus causing difficulty in swallowing solids.

Treatment of mouth and esophageal cancer involves surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Stents may have to be placed to prevent blockage. In the case of esophageal cancer, a part of the intestine may be used to replace the esophagus. Sometimes a feeding tube may have to inserted through the stomach to bypass the esophagus. Treatment is expensive and long-drawn. Results are fairly good if the ailment is diagnosed early. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.

An expert committee formed by the government in September 1997 recommended a blanket ban on the manufacture, distribution and sale of all forms of chewing tobacco like paan masala, gutka and zarda. Unfortunately, supari was left out of the committee’s purview. However, despite legislation these products are openly sold. What’s worse is that teenagers too are becoming addicts.

The government has been dragging its feet over enforcing legislation to regulate use of these carcinogenic and addictive products. This is partly because the paan, supari and zarda industries collectively employ over 50 million people in its raw material procurement, manufacture and distribution networks. These people constitute a large vote bank which successive governments are reluctant to lose. But this is a very dangerous  situation for millions and millions other common people.

The choice is therefore yours — a healthy and happy life or harmful substances that may lead to cancer.

You may click to see:->
Cultural Aspects of Smokeless Tobacco Use and the Impact of Chewing Pan Masala in the Oral Cancer Scenario :

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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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.

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

Betel Leaves (Paan)

Botanical Name: Piper betel (LINN.)
Family: Piperaceae
Genus: Piper
Species: P. betle
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Piperales


Synonyms
–:-Chavica Betel. Artanthe Hixagona

Common Name: Paan
Part Used-:–The leaves.
Habitat: The Betel plant originated in Malaysia and now grows in India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, Malaya and Java.

Description:
The plant is evergreen and perennial, with glossy heart-shaped leaves and white catkins, and grows to a height of about 1 metre. . The best Betel leaf is the “Magahi” variety (literally from the Magadha region) grown near Patna in Bihar, India. The plant is known by a series of different names in the regions in which it is consumed – among these are Vetrilai (Tamil).

The Betel plant is indigenous throughout the Indian Malay region and also cultivated in Madagascar, Bourbon and the West Indies. It is a climbing shrub and is trained on poles or trellis in a hot but shady situation. The leaves are pressed together and dried, sometimes being sewn up together in packets for commerce.

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-Constituents–-The chief constituent of the leaves is a volatile oil varying in the leaves from different countries and known as Betel oil. It contains two phenols, betel-phenol (chavibetol) and chavicol. Cadinene has also been found. The best oil is a clear yellow colour obtained from the fresh leaves. The Indians use the leaves as a masticatory (the taste being warm, aromatic and bitter), together with scraped areca nut and lime.

Uses:
Chew as Mouth freshner:In India and parts of Southeast Asia, the leaves are chewed together with the mineral slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) and the areca nut which, by association, is sometimes inaccurately called the “betel nut“. The lime acts to keep the active ingredient in its freebase or alkaline form, thus enabling it to enter the bloodstream via sublingual absorption. The areca nut contains the alkaloid arecoline, which promotes salivation (the saliva is stained red), and is itself a stimulant. This combination, known as a “betel quid”, has been used for several thousand years. Tobacco is sometimes added…...CLICK &  SEE

Paan is the Hindi word (in Hindi: from Sanskrit parna ‘feather) for betel’, which is used for a stimulating and psychoactive preparation combined with areca nut and/or cured tobacco. Paan is chewed and finally spat out or swallowed. Paan has many variations. Slaked lime (chunnam) paste is commonly added to bind the leaves. Some South Asian preparations include katha paste or mukhwas  to freshen the breath.

(Katha is also known as cutch, black cutch, cachou, cashoo, khoyer, terra Japonica, or Japan earth, and also katha in Hindi, kaath in Marathi, khoyer in Assamese and Bengali, and kachu in Malay (hence the Latinized Acacia catechu chosen as the Linnaean taxonomy name of the type-species Acacia plant which provides the extract).

In India, the betel and areca play an important role in Indian culture especially among Hindus. All the traditional ceremonies governing the lives of Hindus use betel and areca. For example to pay money to the priest, they keep money in the betel leaves and place it beside the priest.

The betel and areca also play an important role in Vietnamese culture. In Vietnamese there is a saying that “the betel begins the conversation”, referring to the practice of people chewing betel in formal occasions or “to break the ice” in awkward situational conversations. The betel leaves and areca nuts are used ceremonially in traditional Vietnamese weddings. Based on a folk tale about the origins of these plants, the groom traditionally offer the bride’s parents betel leaves and areca nuts (among other things) in exchange for the bride. The betel and areca are such important symbols of love and marriage such that in Vietnamese the phrase “matters of betel and areca” (chuyện trầu cau) is synonymous with marriage.

 

-Medicinal Action and Uses:

Betel leaves are chiefly used as a gently stimulant, apparently inducing a mild sensation of well-being.  They also affect the digestive system, stimulating salivary secretions, relieving gas, and preventing worm infestation.  In many Asian traditions, including Ayurvedic medicine, betel leaves are thought to have aphrodisiac and nerve tonic properties.  In Chinese herbal medicine, betel root, leaves, and fruit are sometimes used as a mild tonic and stomach-settling herb.  The root has been used with black pepper or jequirity to produce sterility in women.

-The Betel (Piper betle) is a spice whose leaves have medicinal properties.The leaves are stimulant antiseptic and sialogogue; the oil is an active local stimulant used in the treatment of respiratory catarrhs as a local application or gargle, also as an inhalant in diphtheria. In India the leaves are used as a counter-irritant to suppress the secretion of milk in mammary abscesses. The juice of 4 leaves is equivalent in power to one drop of the oil.

In India, they use betel to cast out (cure) worms.

Betel leaves are used as a stimulant, an antiseptic and a breath-freshener Paan. In Ayurvedic medicine, they are used as an aphrodisiac. In Malaysia they are used to treat headaches, arthritis and joint pain. In Thailand and China they are used to relieve toothache. In Indonesia they are drunk as an infusion and used as an antibiotic. They are also used in an infusion to cure indigestion, as a topical cure for constipation, as a decongestant and as an aid to lactation.

In Papua New Guinea, betel is prepared with a mustard stick dipped in lime powder and acts as a stimulant to suppress hunger, reduce stress and heighten the senses.

Known Hazards: In an extensive scientific research monograph, the World Health Organization expert group for research on cancer reported in 2004 that the percentage of oral cancer among all cancers diagnosed in hospitals in Asia has always been much higher than that usually found in western countries, where the habit of chewing betel quid, with or without tobacco, is virtually unknown. In many descriptive studies, investigators have obtained histories of chewing betel quid with tobacco from series of patients with oral cancer; and in all these studies the percentage of patients who practice betel leaf chewing was found to be extremely large. Researchers also noted that the cancer generally develops at the place where the betel quid is kept. ……....CLICK & READ

The high rate of oral cancer in South Asia is thought to be due to the chewing of betel preparations; the inclusion of tobacco may worsen the risk, but there is also evidence that the areca nut, alone or as part of a betel quid, may cause cancer even without tobacco.[23] See its article for more discussion of this point.   ...CLICK & SEE

Effects of chewing paan during pregnancy:   Scientific teams from Taiwan, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea have reported that women who chew areca nut formulations, such as paan, during pregnancy significantly increase adverse outcomes for the baby. The effects were similar to those reported for women who consume alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy. Lower birth weights, reduced birth length and early term were found to be significantly higher

Some reports may suggest that betel leaf by itself has adverse health effects, in part because of tannins delivered by the leaf and for reasons currently not fully understood.   For example, one research paper studied chromosome damaging effect of betel leaf in human leukocyte cultures. These researchers report an increase in the frequency of chromatid aberrations when the leaf extract was added to cultures. Another scientific study from Japan    indicates that the lab rats who ate a mixture of betel leaf and areca nuts all had severe thickening of the upper digestive tract whereas after undergoing a diet of betel leaves alone, only one laboratory rat ended up having a forestomach papilloma.

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

Help taken from:en.wikipedia.org and botanical.com