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Areca nut

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**Areca Nut Description and Chemical Composition:**
Areca nut is the seed of a fruit, not a true nut.
– Available in dried, cured, and fresh forms, often chewed with betel leaf and spices.
– Major alkaloid is arecoline, with compounds like arecaidine and guvacine.
– Tannins present include proanthocyanidins and catechins.
– New alkaloids acatechu A and acatechu B have been discovered, along with various non-alkaloid compounds.

**Health Risks and Adverse Effects of Areca Nut Consumption:**
– Linked to conditions like oral cancer, cirrhosis, oral submucous fibrosis, and throat cancer.
– Increases the risk of esophageal, stomach, and other cancers.
– Associated with chronic kidney disease, milk-alkali syndrome, and adverse outcomes during pregnancy.
– Affects various organs and systems in the body due to its toxic components.

**Cultural Significance and Traditional Use of Areca Nut:**
– Symbolizes love and marriage in Vietnamese culture.
– Used in ceremonies and weddings in Vietnam, India, and Sri Lanka.
– Considered auspicious in Hinduism and certain Buddhist schools.
– Essential in Assamese societies for religious rituals and social gatherings.
– Royalty in India and Sri Lanka historically chewed areca nut with betel leaf for its breath-freshening properties.

**Global Production and Consumption of Areca Nut:**
– World production in 2017 was 1.3 million tonnes, with India contributing 54%.
– Other top producers include Myanmar, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Taiwan.
Areca nut is widely consumed in Southeast Asia, Oceania, Vietnam, India, and Sri Lanka.
– Named places like Guwahati, Penang, Ko Mak, Fua Mulaku, and Binlang Islet after the nut.
– Consumption trends vary, with some regions experiencing declines while others see traditional uses persist.

**Regulations, Bans, and Economic Implications of Areca Nut Trade:**
Areca nut is not a controlled substance in the United States but may face import restrictions.
Betel nut bans and regulations exist in various countries like the UAE and parts of Asia.
– Challenges arise from bans impacting betel nut sellers’ livelihoods.
– Economic opportunities and risks are associated with the betel nut trade in certain regions.
– Research focuses on health implications, management strategies, and cultural significance of betel nut consumption globally.

Areca nut (Wikipedia)

The areca nut (/ˈærɪkə/ or /əˈrkə/) or betel nut is the fruit of the areca palm (Areca catechu), which grows in much of the tropical Pacific (Melanesia and Micronesia), South Asia, Southeast Asia, and parts of east Africa. It is not to be confused with betel (Piper betle) leaves that are often used to wrap it.

Areca nuts
19th century drawing of the Areca palm and its nut
Areas of the world where the use of areca nut is common

The practice of chewing the nut together with other herbs as a stimulant drug dates back thousands of years in south and southeast Asia, and continues to the present day in many countries.

Consumption has many harmful effects on health and is carcinogenic to humans. Various compounds present in the nut, including arecoline (a stimulant alkaloid which is similar to nicotine), contribute to histologic changes in the oral mucosa as well as discoloration of the gums. It is known to be a major risk factor for cancers (squamous cell carcinoma) of the mouth and esophagus. As with chewing tobacco, use is discouraged by preventive efforts. Consumption by hundreds of millions of people worldwide – mainly of South Asian or Southeast Asian origins – has been described as a "neglected global public health emergency".

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