A global community of nature enthusiasts
photographing and learning about wildlife
Areca nuts are chewed with betel leaf for their effects as a mild stimulant, causing a mild hot sensation in the body and slightly heightened alertness, although the effects vary from person to person. The effect of chewing betel and the nut is relatively mild and could be compared to drinking a cup of coffee. The areca nut contains tannin, gallic acid, a fixed oil gum, a little terpineol, lignin, various saline substances and three main alkaloids: Arecoline, Arecaidine and Guvacine which have vasoconstricting properties. The betel leaf chewed along with it contains eugenol, also a vasoconstrictor. Many chewers also add small pieces of tobacco leaf to the mixture, thereby adding the effect of the nicotine, which causes greater addiction than the drugs contained in the nut and the betel.
Betel Nut chewing is extremely common in northeast India. The streets of some cities are covered in red spit produced by chewing the nut. I tried it and found it bitter and intense. It turned my mouth and spit bright red. After about 20 minutes I was really feeling its stimulant effects and stopped chewing it. It was interesting to try but I wouldn't use it regularly.