UNDERSTANDING BETEL NUT

November 20, 2015

UNDERSTANDING BETEL NUT

Areca nut (commonly known as betel nut) grows in tropical parts of Asia, the Pacific and parts of Africa.  It is widely used as an intoxicant, believed to be the fourth most common human intoxicant after alcohol, caffeine and nicotine.  Generally chewed in combination with slaked lime, betel nut turns the mouth and saliva a distinct red colour which many people who've travelled throughout South East Asia and the Pacific would be familiar with.  Betel nut is sometimes seen in northern parts of Australia, and it is known to produce dependence and withdrawal.  The active ingredient in betel nut is arecoline, however it has been previously unclear exactly how this chemical produces dependence, and there has been little information available about treatment approaches for people wanting to reduce or cease their use of betel nut. An article was recently published on PLos ONE titled "Nicotinic activity of arecoline, the psychoactive element of betel nuts, suggests a basis for habitual use and anti-inflammatory activity."  The authors found that the arecoline in betel nut works on nicotinic receptors in the body, and they hypothesise that smoking cessation therapies such as varenicline (Champix) may assist people who want to cease using.


Go to "Nicotinic activity of arecoline, the psychoactive element of betel nuts, suggests a basis for habitual use and anti-inflammatory activity."