Edited by Ho Dinh Hai Long An - Vietnam Updated: 3/10/2014
1- Introduction to Areca Nut Palm
1.1- Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae Phylum: Angiosperms Division: Monocots Class: Commelinids Subclass: Arecidae Superorder: Areciforae Order: Arecales Family: Arecaceae Subfamily: Arecoideae Tribe: Areceae Subtribe: Arecinae Genus: Areca Species: Areca catechuL. + Subclass: Arecidae The Subclass Arecidae, the smallest and least homogeneous subclass in the angiosperms, includes four orders.Together the six families encompass about 4,800 species. + Superorder: Areciforae Arranged from largest to smallest: (1)The Order Arecales; (2)The Order Arales; (3)The Order Pandanales; (4)The Order Cyclanthales. + Order Arecales: Including 1 family: the Family Arecaceae, or Palmae, or Palmaceae, with 202 genera and about 2,800 species. Extensive taxonomic research on palms began with botanist H.E. Moore, who organized palms into 15 major groups based mostly on general morphological characteristics. In 1987, depending on a revision of Moore's classification, N.W. Uhl and J. Dransfield that organizes palms into six subfamilies. + Subfamily Arecoideae The Subfamily Arecoideae are the largest subfamily, with six diverse tribes (Areceae-Caryoteae-Cocoeae-Geonomeae-Iriarteeae-Podococceae) containing over 100 genera. All tribes have pinnate or bipinnate leaves and flowers arranged in groups of three, with a central pistillate and two staminate flowers. + TribeAreceae (about 100 genera) – Vietnamese: Tông Cau Selected important genera in Vietnam: Archontophoenix - Bangalow palm (Vietnamese: Cau cảnh) Areca-Betel nut palm (Vietnamese: Cau) + Genus Areca Arecais agenusof about 50 species of palms in thefamilyArecaceae, found in humidtropical forestsfromChinaandIndia, acrossSoutheast Asiato Melanesia.The generic nameArecais derived from a name used locally on theMalabar CoastofIndia. The best-known member of the genus is A. catechu, the areca nut palm. Several species of areca nuts, known for their bitter and tangy taste, raw or dried, are routinely used for chewing, especially in combination with the leaves of betel, and dried leaves of tobacco which is root cause of oral cancer being carcinogenic, and calcium hydroxide (lime). This practice is popular among aged people in southeastern Asia.
1.2- Scientific name andVernaculars + Scientific name:Areca catechuL. + Synomym: Areca faufelGaertn. Areca himalayanaGriff. ex H.Wendl. Areca hortensisLour. Areca nigraGiseke ex H.Wendl. Areca macrocarpaBecc. Sublimia arecaComm. ex Mart. Areca faufelGaertn. + English names: Areca palmor Areca nut palm, Betel palm + French names: Aréquier, Noix d'arec, Noix de bétel. + Vietnamese names:Cau, Cau an trau (Cau ăn trầu)(areca nut),Trầu(betel). + Asean Vernaculars: - Burmese: Kun di (areca nut) , Kun ja (betel). - Indonesian: Pinang, Sirih (betel). - Lao: Màak or Mark. - Malaysian: Pinang. - Filipino: Bunga, Buwa/ prepared for chewing is "momma". - Thai: Mahk (areca nut), plue (betel). - Khmer: Klàa or Slàa.
2.1- Description - The trunk: Areca catechuis a medium-sized and palmtree, growing straight to 20 m tall, with a trunk 10-15 cm in diameter. - The leaves: Theleavesare 1.5-2 m long, pinnate, with numerous, crowded leaflets. - The Flowers: During late spring or early summer, the Areca Palm produces small bright yellow flowers that grow from below the leaves. It has male and female flowers on the same inflorescence. - The fruits: After few months of blooming, flowers are followed by light green to yellow fruits that turn yellow-orange when ripe. Fruits have oval shape and are around 1 inch in diameter. Although they look pretty, they are not edible. The fruit ofA. catechuturns a yellow to scarlet color as it ripens and then consists of a thick fibrouspericarp, the so-called husk, that encloses the seed. Unlike some other members of its genus,A. catechureadily self-seeds and is tolerant of open conditions. It is commercially available in dried, cured and fresh forms. While fresh, the husk is green and the nut inside is soft enough to be cut with a typical knife. In the ripe fruit, the husk becomes yellow or orange and, as it dries, the fruit inside hardens to a wood-like consistency. At that stage, the areca nut can only be sliced using a specialscissors-like cutter. - The seeds: Theareca nutis the seed of thearecapalm (Areca catechu). The areca nut is not atrue nut, but rather adrupe. It is commonly referred to asbetel nut, as it is often chewed wrapped inbetelleaves (paan). The seed of this palm ("areca nut") is used in the preparation of betel quid, generally by combining it withslaked lime(which reduces the astringency of thetanninsof areca nut; releases itsalkaloids, especiallyarecoline; and aids the overall freshening effect on the mouth, making the betel quid both more palatable and physiologically effective) and the leaf ofPiper betle(betelleaf). Areca palm seed is now among the most important stimulant products in the world, used by around 200 to 600 million people globally. It is often said to rank in extent of use below only caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol among addictive plant products. When seeds of this species are unavailable, seeds of certain wild palm species such asPinanga dicksoniiin South India or Areca macrocalyxin the Moluccas and New Guinea are sometimes substituted as inferior alternatives.
Areca palm tree
Areca palm nuts
2.2-The Uses of Areca nut on the World The areca nut is the seed of the areca palm (Areca catechu), which grows in much of the tropical Pacific, Asia, and parts of east Africa. It is commonly referred to as betel nut, as it is often chewed wrapped in betel leaves (paan). This is not a regular edible fruit with the aim supplying for food but for using as an addictive nut. 2.2.1- Chewing uses Chewing the mixture of areca nut and betel leaf is a tradition, custom or ritual which dates back thousands of years in much of the geographical areas from South Asia eastward to the Pacific. It constitutes an important and popular cultural activity in many Asian and Oceanic countries, including Pakistan, the Maldives, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), China, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Palau, Yap, Guam, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. It is not known how or when the areca nut and the betel leaf were first combined into one psychoactive drug. Archaeological evidence from Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines suggests they have been used in tandem for at least 4000 years. Places like Guwahati in Assam, Penang in Malaysia, Ko Mak in Thailand and Fua Mulaku in Maldives have been named after the areca nut. - In Malaysia, Malay culture and tradition hold betel nut and leaves in high esteem. Traditionally, guests who visit a Malay house are presented with a tray of areca nuts and betel leaves, in much the same way as drinks are offered to guests in many cultures around the world. There is even a Malay proverb about the betel nut, "bagaikan pinang dibelah dua", loosely translated, like a betel nut divided in half. It usually refers to newlyweds, who are compatible to each other, just like a betel nut when divided in half. The proverb is analogous to the English "two peas in a pod". - In the Philippines, chewing the areca nut and betel leaf was a very widespread tradition in the past. Now, though, this tradition is almost dead among the urban people in the cities and big towns, and has largely been replaced by chewing gum and cigarettes. Nowadays, older people ares the only ones chewing betel nuts. But in rural areas, betel nut-chewing is very much alive. - In Vietnam, the areca nut and the betel leaf are such important symbols of love and marriage that in Vietnamese the phrase "matters of betel and areca" (chuyện trầu cau) is synonymous with marriage. The tradition of chewing areca nuts starts the talk between the groom's parents and the bride's parents about the young couple's marriage. Therefore, the leaves and juices are used ceremonially in Vietnamese weddings. The folk tale explaining the origin of this Vietnamese tradition is a good illustration of the belief that the combination of areca nut and the betel leaf is ideal to the point they are practically inseparable, like an idealized married couple. - In Thailand, the consumption of areca nut has declined gradually in the last decades. The younger generation rarely chews the substance, especially in the cities. Most of the present-day consumption is confined to older generations, mostly people above 50. Even so, small trays of betel leaves and sliced tender areca nut are sold in markets and used as offerings in Buddhist shrines. - InHainanandHunan Province,China, where Xiangtan is a center of use and processing, a wide range of old and young people consume areca nut daily. Most, though, consume the dried variety of the nut by itself, without the betel leaves. Some people also consume the areca nut in its raw, fresh form with or without the betel leaves. Betel nuts are sold mostly by old women walking around trying to sell it, but the dried version can be found in most shops which sell tea, alcohol and cigarettes. - InTaiwan, bags of 20 to 40 areca nuts are purchased fresh daily by a large number of consumers. To meet the steady year-round demand, two kinds of betel-nut shops sell betel and nuts, as well as cigarettes and drinks, including beer: Small mom and pop shops, often poorly maintained and with unassuming façades, and shops which will often consist of nothing more than a single, free-standing room, or booth. The latter is usually elevated one meter above the street, and measures less than 3 by 2 m. Large picture windows comprise two or more of the walls, allowing those who pass by a complete view of the interior. The interior is often painted brightly. Within such a shop, a sexilydressed young woman, a "betel nut beauty", can be seen preparing betel and areca nuts. Shops are often identified by multicoloured (commonly green) fluorescent tubes or neon lights that frame the windows or that are arranged radially above a store. Customers stop on the side of the road and wait for the girls to bring their betel and areca nut to their vehicles. The habit of chewing betel nut is often associated with blue-collar labor industries such a long-haul transportation, construction, or fishing. Workers in these labor-intensive industries use betel nut for its stimulating effect, but it also becomes a tool for socializing with coworkers. For example, studies have shown chewing betel nut is prevalent among taxi, bus and truck drivers, who rely on the stimulating effect of betel nut to cope with long work hours. For these reasons, oral cancer has been identified as a leading cause of death in professions with high betel nut-chewing rates. - In the Indian subcontinent, the chewing of betel and areca nut dates back to the pre-Vedic periodHarappan empire. Formerly, in both India and Sri Lanka, it was a custom of the royalty to chew areca nut with betel leaf. Kings had special attendants whose duty it was to carry a box with all the necessary ingredients for a good chewing session. There was also a custom for lovers to chew areca nut and betel leaf together, because of its breath-freshening and relaxant properties. A sexual symbolism thus became attached to the chewing of the nut and the leaf. The areca nut represented the male principle, and the betel leaf the female principle. Considered an auspicious ingredient in Hinduism and some schools of Buddhism, the areca nut is still used along with betel leaf in religious ceremonies, and also while honoring individuals in much of southern Asia. - InIndia (the largest consumer of areca nut) and Pakistan, the preparation of nut with or without betel leaf is commonly referred to as paan. It is available practically everywhere and is sold in ready-to-chew pouches called pan masala or supari, as a mixture of many flavours whose primary base is areca nut crushed into small pieces. Poor people, who may eat only every other day, use it to stave off hunger pangs. Pan masala with a small quantity of tobacco is called gutka. The easily discarded, small plastic suparior gutka pouches are a ubiquitous pollutant of the South Asian environment. Some of the liquid in the mouth is usually disposed of by spitting, producing bright red spots wherever the expectorate lands. The Shimoga District in Karnataka is presently the largest producer of betelnut in India. - InAssam, it is a tradition to offer pan-tamul (betel leaves and raw areca nut) to guests, after tea or meals, served in a brass plate with stands called bota. Among the Assamese, the areca nut also has a variety of uses during religious and marriage ceremonies, where it has the role of a fertility symbol. A tradition from Upper Assam is to invite guests to wedding receptions by offering a few areca nuts with betel leaves. During Bihu, the husori players are offered areca nuts and betel leaves by each household while their blessings are solicited. - In Bhutan areca nut is called doma. The raw areca nut, which is soft and moist is very potent and when chewed can cause palpitation and vasoconstricting. This form is eaten in the lower regions of Bhutan and in North Bengal, where the nut is cut into half and put into a local paan leaf with a generous amount of lime. In the rest of Bhutan the raw nut, with the husk on, is fermented such that the husk rots and is easy to extract. The fermented doma has a putrid odour, which can be smelled from miles. Traditionally, this fragrant nut is cut in half and placed on top of a cone made of local betel leaf, which has a dash of lime put into it. "Myth has it that the inhabitants of Bhutan traditionally known as Monyul, the land of Monpas where Buddhism did not reach lived on raw flesh, drank blood and chewed bones. After the arrival of Guru Rinpoche in the 8th century, he stopped the people from eating flesh and drinking blood and created a substitute which is betel leaf, lime and areca nut. Today, chewing doma has become a custom. Doma is served after meals, during rituals and ceremonies. It is offered to friends and is chewed at work places by all sections of the society and has become an essential part of Bhutanese life and culture." - In theMaldives, areca nut chewing is very popular, but spitting is frowned upon and regarded as an unrefined, gross way of chewing. Usually, people prefer to chew thin slices of the dry nut, which is sometimes roasted. Kili, a mixture of areca nut, betel, cloves, cardamom and sugar is sold in small home-made paper pouches. Old people who have lost their teeth keep "chewing" by pounding the mixture of areca nut and betel with a small mortar and pestle. - InPapua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, fresh areca nut, betel leaf or 'fruit leaf' (daka in PNG) and lime are sold on street corners. In these countries, dried or flavoured areca nut is not popular. Areca nut chewing has recently been introduced into Vanuatu, where it is growing in popularity, especially in the northern islands of the country. In Guam and the neighboring Northern Mariana Islands, betel and areca nut chewing is a social pastime as a means to extend friendship, and can be found in many, if not most, large gatherings as part of the food display. Spanish mariner Álvaro de Mendaña reported observing Solomon Islanders chewing the nut and the leaf with caustic lime, and the manner in which the habit stained their mouths red. He noted the friendly and genial chief Malope, on Santa Isabel Island, would offer him the combination as a token of friendship every time they met. - In Australia and New Zealand: Betel is chewed in Australia and New Zealand by immigrants from India now dwelling in these countries. Betel nut has been used extensively since antiquity. People chew it for stress reduction, feelings of well-being, and heightened awareness. It contains three major alkaloids: arecoline, pilocarpine, and muscarine. Betel nut chewing is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. - InPalau, betel nut is chewed with lime, piper leaf and nowadays, with the addition of tobacco. Older and younger generations alike enjoy the use of betel nut, which is readily available at stores and markets. Unlike in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, where the inner areca nut is used, in Palau, the areca nut's skin is chewed along with lime, leaf and tobacco and the juice is not swallowed but spat out. - Betel nut chewing originated in the tropical regions of southern Asia, but it has gradually spread to communities in Madagascar, eastern Africa and the West Indies. Quid, or chewable drug, made from betel nut typically contains a combination of betel palm nut, betel vine leaf, lime and tobacco. While this psychoactive product is most commonly used as a recreational drug, it may offer some medicinal or therapeutic properties. However, betel nut chewing has been linked to several serious side effects. Betel nut chewing originated in the tropical regions of southern Asia, but it has gradually spread to communities in Madagascar, eastern Africa and the West Indies. Quid, or chewable drug, made from betel nut typically contains a combination of betel palm nut, betel vine leaf, lime and tobacco. While this psychoactive product is most commonly used as a recreational drug, it may offer some medicinal or therapeutic properties. However, betel nut chewing has been linked to several serious side effects. Possession of betel nut or leaf is banned in the UAE and is a punishable offense. - In theUnited States, areca nut is not a controlled or specially taxed substance and may be found in some Asian grocery stores. However, importation of areca nut in a form other than whole or carved kernels of nuts can be stopped at the discretion of US Customs officers on the grounds of food, agricultural, or medicinal drug violations. Such actions by Customs are very rare. In the United Kingdom, areca nut is readily available in Asian grocery stores and even in shredded forms from the World Food aisles of larger Tescosupermarkets. The addition of tobacco leaf to the chewing mixture is a relatively recent innovation, as tobacco was not introduced from the American continent until the colonial era. 2.2.2- Medical uses In almost all parts of India, Sri Lanka and southern China, areca nuts are not only chewed along with betel leaf, but are also used in the preparation of Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicines. Powdered areca nut is used as a constituent in some dentifrices. Other traditional uses include the removal of tapeworms and other intestinal parasites by swallowing a few teaspoons of powdered areca nut, drunk as a decoction, or by taking tablets containing the extracted alkaloids. According to traditional Ayurvedic medicine, chewing areca nut and betel leaf is a good remedy against bad breath. Recently it has been reported that areca nut powder extract is capable of reducing silver ions to silver nanoparticles, which may be useful as antimicrobial agents.
2.3- Chemical composition Good quality Areca palm seeds contain 1.5-2.5% dry weight of nitrogen, 0.1-0.3% phosphorus, 0.7-2.0% potassium, 1.0-1.5% calcium, 0.3-0.6% magnesium, 10-60 parts per million (ppm) copper, 50-300 ppm manganese and iron and 25-200 ppm zinc. Plants are tolerant of both atmospheric fluoride (F) and F in the medium if pH is maintained above 6.0. Tissue F levels of 16 ppm were found in leaves with no necrosis, while leaves with necrosis had only 21 ppm. Areca palms appear to be more tolerant to ethylene than most foliage plants. The areca nut contains the tanninsarecatanninandgallic acid; a fixed oil gum; a littleterpineol;lignin; various saline substances; and three main alkaloids-arecoline,arecaidineandguvacine - all of which have vasoconstrictingproperties. The seed containsalkaloidssuch asarecaidineandarecoline, which, when chewed, are intoxicating and slightly addictive. The seed also contains condensedtannins(procyanidins) calledarecatannins which are carcinogenic. The betel leaf chewed along with the nut contains eugenol, another vasoconstrictor. Many chewers also add small pieces of tobacco leaf to the mixture, thereby adding the effect of nicotine, which causes greater addiction than the drugs contained in the nut and the betel leaf.
2.4- Benefits of Areca nut palmand risk of chewing, side effects Betel nut is a combination of three ingredients. People roll small pieces of the nut from Areca catechu, more commonly called betel palm, in a leaf from the Piper betel vine, then add powdered slaked lime or limestone paste, and chew it. The substance is popular in certain parts of the world, primarily Asia and Africa, as a recreational drug due to its psychoactive and stimulant effects. Some components of betel nut have pharmacological properties, but little evidence supports its use for any therapeutic purpose, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. + Betel Nut Benefits - Euphoric Betel nut owes its popularity as a recreational drug to its euphoric side-effects. According to the NIH, betel nut chewers report feeling happier, more energetic and more alert when using the product. Some users combine betel nut chewing with other psychoactive herbs, such as ephedra, guarana and tobacco. - Stimulant The National Institutes of Health note betel nut's long-standing reputation as a stimulant. Chewed betel nut produces a stimulant response that, in low doses, is similar to caffeine or nicotine. In high doses, betel nut produces cocaine-like effects including elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, dilated pupils, anxiety, insomnia and cardiac arrhythmia. - Stroke Recovery Betel nut extract may be beneficial for stroke recovery, according to InteliHealth. Improvements have been noted in speech, bladder control and muscle strength in patients taking betel nut extract, although InteliHealth explains that studies so far have been small and flawed. - Schizophrenia Preliminary research indicates improvements in symptoms for schizophrenia patients who take betel nut, according to the NIH. Standard schizophrenia medications produce unpleasant side effects, fueling further efforts to discover new treatments, but the NIH notes that betel nut also produced side effects of tremors and stiffness in the schizophrenia research. - Cavity Prevention Betel nut may have antibacterial effects, and it previously was included as a toothpaste ingredient for preventing cavities, according to InteliHealth. Because of its toxic effects, however, betel nut is likely less useful than other therapeutic agents for dental purposes. - Dry Mouth Relief People who chew betel nut tend to produce large amounts of saliva, according to InteliHealth. This could help people with dry mouth caused by health conditions such as diabetes and Sjogren's syndrome. InteliHealth explains that safer medications are available to relieve this symptom. + Risk of betel nut chewing Betel nut is chewed regularly by at least 10% of the world population, imported by immigrant users wherever they settle, and is the fourth most widely used addictive substance. It is thought, by users, to soothe the digestion and to be a stimulant and its use has a major role in social situations. Specific arecal alkaloids act as competitive inhibitors of GABA receptors and have widespread effects in the body, including actions on the brain, cardiovascular system, lungs, gut and pancreas. Nitrosated derivatives of arecal alkaloids, proven carcinogens inducing tumors throughout the upper gut and foregut derivatives in animals, are also associated with increased tumor risks in man. Increased central obesity is found in association with betel usage in man as well as increases in circulating markers of inflammatory and cardiovascular damage. The effects of chronic betel usage in man are at least as diverse as those of smoking and the habit increases the risks of ill health. Betel nut contains three major alkaloids: arecoline, pilocarpine, and muscarine. + Betel Nut side effects Betel nut (Areca catechu) is a psychoactive drug of the Asian continent, popular in the South Pacific islands, Southeast Asia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Betel nut side effects can occur with daily use for several years. Excessive use leads to palpitations, warm sensation, increased pulse rate, sweating, Prolonged use for many years may increase the risk for oral cancers. The regular use of betel will, in time, stain the mucosa, gums, and teeth. Betel nut is not recommended for those with heart conditions. - Betel Nut and Oral Cancer Betel quid chewing is a strong independent risk factor for pharyngeal cancer (cancer of the back of the throat), but not laryngeal cancer (cancer of the voice box), according to findings published in the International Journal of Cancer. Chewing betel quid, which consists of betel leaf from the Piper betle vine, is popular in many parts of Asia. Betel quid is chewed for its stimulant effects, to satisfy hunger and as a social and cultural practice. For centuries, billions of people across Asia, from Pakistan to Palau, have chewed the spicy date-like fruit of the betel palm for a quick buzz. However, a World Health Organization study has found that chewing betel nuts can cause oral cancer and that the rate of these malignant mouth tumors was highest in Asia where the betel nut is a widely used stimulant. Betel nut, which contains an addictive stimulant similar to nicotine, is widely used in parts of Southeast Asia, India, Pakistan and the South Pacific as a breath freshener, a hunger antidote, a substitute for cigarettes and as a way to get high. Users often chew it all day long, causing all sorts of unpleasant side-effects such as red-stained teeth and pavements covered with red spittle as many users spit out the betel nut's remnants as they chew. - Betel chewing and heart disease Betel-quid chewing is a contributory cause of metabolic syndrome in humans, which implies a greater likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease among those with the betel habit. Betel quid (Areca catechu) is used by close to 10% of the world's population. Betel quid use is associated with the metabolic syndrome, a risk factor for heart disease. At least one study has shown that Betel-quid use is independently associated with heart disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 85, No. 5, 1229-1235, May 2007. - Cholinergic The NIH reports that betel nut is potently cholinergic; it powerfully alters the function of certain neurotransmitters and alters the state of the central nervous system. Drugs in this class produce a myriad of side effects including excessive salivation, increased tearing, urinary and fecal incontinence, sweating, diarrhea and vomiting. - Teratogenic Betel nut may be teratogenic, or disruptive to the development of a fetus. The health information website Drugs.com warns pregnant women to avoid chewing betel nut because it can damage an unborn baby's DNA and harm its development. - Carcinogenic Betel nut quids, particularly those containing tobacco, cause cancer. The NIH links regular betel nut chewing to cancers of the mouth and esophagus. Additionally, compounds in betel nut can encourage the growth of liver, lung, cervix, stomach, mouth and prostate cancers. - Additionally, betel nut use can worsen high or low blood pressure and irregular heart rate, as well as asthma. Chronic use may increase the risk of certain cancers. The NIH notes that toxic effects of betel nut may outweigh any possible benefits.
2.5- Cultivation of Areca Palms on the World Like other Areca palms, this species is an understory palm and thrives in humid tropical forests at low to medium elevations. Although this species is most often encountered in village gardens, it is also grown on large-scale plantations in some areas, notably in India. The areca nut is popular for chewing throughout some Asian countries, such as China (mainly Hunan), Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and India and the Pacific, notably Papua New Guinea, where it is very popular. + The traditional method of making the betel quid In South-East Asia, the petel leaf is daubed with lime paste and topped with thin slices of an areca-nut; then the petel leaf is folded, like wrapping a present, to the desired shape and size. Finally, the wad is placed between the teeth and the cheek and pressed with the tongue to allow sucking and chewing. Sometimes it is held in the mouth for hours; others sleep with it. The interaction of the ingredients during chewing produces a red-coloured saliva. Most of the betel juice is spat out. as red spittle. The tell-tale residue looks like splotches of dried blood on the ground, often mistaken as globs of tuberculous phlegm. + The Species of Areca palm are used for chewing Arecais a genus of about 50 species of palms in the familyArecaceae, found in humid tropical forests from China and India, across Southeast Asia to Melanesia. Because this palm is planted mainly for betel quid production, fruits and seeds have been the main target for selection by growers, although cultivation for ornamental purposes has increased in recent years. In cultivation, variation is seen in the overall growth habit and the size, shape, color, and even taste of the fruits and seeds. Areca catechu is the most widely cultivated species in the genus Areca and has been distributed by humans throughout the tropics. Betel nut is chewed regularly by at least 10% of the world population, imported by immigrant users wherever they settle, and is the fourth most widely used addictive substance. Areca palm seed is now among the most important stimulant products in the world, used by around 200 to 600 million people globally. It is often said to rank in extent of use below only caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol among addictive plant products. When seeds of this species are unavailable, seeds of certain wild palm species such asPinanga dicksoniiin South India or Areca macrocalyxin the Moluccas and New Guinea are sometimes substituted as inferior alternatives. Several species of Areca nuts, known for their bitter and tangy taste, raw or dried, are routinely used for chewing, especially in combination with the leaves of betel, and dried leaves of tobacco which is root cause of oral cancer being carcinogenic, and calcium hydroxide (lime). This practice is popular among aged people in southeastern Asia. Nowadays, with more information about risk of chewing Areca palms with betel leaves and side effects of them is more dangerous for health, the cultivation of Areca palm trees on the world is reduced and they are used a s beautiful trees in garden or in home.
3- The Areca Palms in Vietnam
3.1-Vietnamese custom of betel chewing “Betel leaves and areca nuts were offered as a first conversation starter to guests”... Thousand year-old tradition of betel chewingconstitutes an important and popular cultural activity in Vietnam... In Vietnam, the areca nut and the betel leaf are such important symbols of love and marriage that inVietnamesethe phrase "matters of betel and areca" (chuyện trầu cau) is synonymous with marriage. The tradition of chewing areca nuts starts the talk between the groom's parents and the bride's parents about the young couple's marriage. Therefore, the leaves and juices are used ceremonially in Vietnamese weddings. The folk tale explaining the origin of this Vietnamese tradition is a good illustration of the belief that the combination of areca nut and the betel leaf is ideal to the point they are practically inseparable, like an idealized married couple. 3.2- The legend of betel and areca (Sự tích trầu cau) Once upon a time, there was a pair of twin brothers whose parents had died since they were small kids. They loved and took good care of each other. They looked too alike that nobody could point exactly who was the elder brother, who was the younger brother. They liked learning very much so they came to learn with a teacher. The teacher let them stay with his family. The two brothers studied hard and worked hard every day. Their teacher was very satisfied with them. The teacher had a lovely daughter who was some years younger than the twin brothers. She moved for them and wanted to married the elder brother. Her parents agreed with her. So, one day she cooked rice and invited the twin to eat. However, there was only a bowl of rice and a pair of chopsticks on the table when the twin brothers came. According to our traditional custom, the younger brother offered his brother to eat first. The teacher came in and told them he would marry off his daughter to the elder. A happy wedding was held. After that, the new married couple lived happily in a small house with the younger brother. One day, the two brothers worked hard outside and came home in late afternoon. The young wife was longing to her husband so she hugged him tight. However, the woman did not realize that the younger brother arrived first on that day. Thus, the young wife showed her affection to her brother-in-law instead of her husband. The younger brother landed in an embarrassing situation and did not know how to do while his brother came in. Of course the elder brother was not happy to see that. Realizing her mistake, the wife felt so sorry. The husband did not say anything but the atmosphere in their family was not as warm as last time. The younger brother was so sad. He thought that was his fault. Therefore, he left home silently and went far away. He kept going day by day. When he came to a river, he stopped there and cried for himself. He died and transformed into a limestone. About the elder brother, when he did not see his brother at home, he was very worried about him. He was so sorry for making his beloved brother sad. He hoped his brother would come back when he was comfortable but younger brother still did not come back. The elder brother left home to look for his brother. He looked for him for many days. Finally, he came to a river and felt too tired. He sat down, leaned against the limestone and waited for a boat. There was no boat at all. The elder brother missed his brother and missed his wife so much. He cried a lot and died. At the place he died, there was a strange tree grew up. The young wife waited for her husband and his brother for days. However, they did not show up. She was so worried and decided to go to find them. Finally, the wife set out and found the place where her husband and his twin had died and she too collapsed in despair. She went to many places, asked many people but she couldn’t see the twin brothers. When the wife came to the river, she was too tired. She sat under the strange tree next to the limestone and cried. Her feet were pain and her heart was broken. She died and became a small plant which had heart-shape leaves. It wound around the trunk of the strange tree. People called the tree “Cau” (areca palm) and the plant “Trầu” (betel). Some year later, King Hùng stopped by the riverbank. People told him about the story. He was so sorry for them. The King tried to chew a betel leaf and a part of areca nut together and he felt the warmth of love and happiness. When he spat on the limestone, the liquid was as red as blood. The King said it could happen because of the love between the husband and wife and the love between the two brothers. After that, people started to chew betel leaves and areca nuts with a bit of lime to redden their lisps. The three people became inseparable in people’s mind. The story is symbolic of the strong bonds of love and marriage and explain the use of betel chewing with lime and areca nut to signify love in marriage. Betel leaves are still offered at engagements and weddings. Betel leaves and areca nuts were also used to offer to show home owners’ honor to their guests, their friends. Therefore, it is said that “A betel cud is the very first conversation starter”. At weddings, betel leaves and areca nuts became a necessary part of present that a bridegroom’s family bring to the bride’s family. They believed that betel leaves and areca nuts will bring happiness to new married couples and give them endless love to live happily together the rest of their life. Although the habit of chewing betel leaves is not much popular, most people who keep this habit are old ones, betel leaves and areca nuts still are the most important presents which are brought to the bride’s family. They contain best wishes of people to the married couple. In Vietnam, the areca nut and betel leaf are important symbols of love and marriage, and used in wedding ceremonies. Source: Vietnamese Legends and Folk Tales from Thế Giới Publishers 3.3- How To Use Betel Nuts in Vietnam To make your own betel nut mixture, take an amount of betel nut (1/4 nut is a good place to start but use as much or little as you desire) and cut it into small pieces. The betel leaves are folded in different ways and have mostly some Calcium hydroxide daubed inside. After mixing, place the betel/lime in the side of your mouth between the cheek and jaw, and chew it once in a while. Let the mixture remain in your mouth for an hour or longer, and swallow any saliva your mouth produces. Try not to swallow much betel nut directly, it can cause an upset stomach. The pieces will be chewed, so you can break them up into any size you feel comfortable with. Something like vise-grips will break into small pieces or powder. Roasted betel nuts are easiest to break into smaller pieces. When finished, spit out the remaining mixture, rather than swallow it. Effects are stimulating and can be compared to a mild amphetamine dose (for someone who is not tolerant to stimulants). There is also an appetite suppressing effect. They have a spicy taste and large amounts of saliva are usually produced when chewing betel nut. If you like the taste, you can chew betel nut alone but the stimulating effect is minimized without lime. You can sometimes find flavored betel nuts by adding a bit of nutmeg or cloves to the betel/lime mixture to improve the taste... Chewing the mixture of areca nut and betel leaf is a tradition, custom or ritualin Vietnam, with the familiar folk verse: “Loving each other, six-part areca nut is only separated into three parts Yet, hating each other, the six-part areca nut will be separated into ten parts” However, because of the natural high that this activity gives, chewing betel today has become a culinary speciality offered after a meal only for an honoured guest.