Betel Nut

Latin:  Areca catechu

Family:  Palmaceae

Parts Used:  Nut, leaves

Taste/Energetics:  Spicy, bitter, sweet, warming

Properties:  Stimulant, astringent, digestive tonic,

Actions:  When I lived in a village in Northeast Thailand, I would often notice elder women chewing on something and spitting a lot.  I found out later that they were chewing on betel nut, a seed of a palm tree.  Betel is a commonly consumed herb in many parts of Asia and the nut has a stimulating, relaxing, aromatic and somewhat narcotic effect.  The nut definitely induces a buzz and can be addictive.  For many it gives a greater feeling of well-being, energy, stamina and euphoria if taken in large doses.

Though most folks in the West are unaware of it, betel is the fourth most common psychoactive substance in the world after nicotine, alcohol and caffeine.  Over 600 million people use it regularly for its stimulating properties.  It also appears to stimulate and improve digestion.

Dosage:  Traditional style put a little pinch of the nut in your mouth and chew away.  Its often also added to lime leaf and tobacco and sometimes other herbs such as cloves or cardamom to modulate its flavor and effect.

Contraindications:  Betel is linked to numerous health risks when taken regularly such as increased risk of mouth and throat cancers.  It also leads to gum and tooth decay when used excessively.  Not to be used in pregnancy, with cardiac problems, hypertension.