Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Figure 1: Areca nut

The habit of chewing areca is a habit of great antiquity. Areca is mainly used as food, medicine, social and religious purposes. It is the fourth most commonly used social drug, ranking after nicotine, ethanol and caffeine. Areca preparations and specific ingredients differ by cultural group and individual user.

Be CAUTIONS? Areca nut taken along with tobacco is known to have a deleterious effect of the oral cavity to the extent of causing oral cancer.

But Areca is BENEFICIAL in Some extent. However, not much is documented regarding the advantages of chewing areca nut. Arecoline, the principal alkaloid in areca nut, acts as an agonist primarily at muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. It stimulates the central and autonomic nervous system. This leads to subjective effects of increased well-being, alertness and stamina. In addition to that, it is known to improve concentration and relaxation, with other reported effects including lifting of mood, a sense of well-being, heightened alertness, staving off hunger, aphrodisiac properties and as postprandial digesting. It has also been shown to have cariostatic property. Areca was touted as a folk medicine for digestive and dental health. Areca nut also exerts a direct antimicrobial effect against bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus salivarius and various other microorganisms in the oral cavity. It was used to facilitate bowel movements and reduce intestinal worms (as used in Ayurvedic medicine).

Figure 2: Areca nut tree

In conclusion, the use of areca nut chewing has been of centuries old. The general effects of chewing areca nut have much impact not just on the oral cavity but also on the general health of an individual. However, many a times, the deleterious effects can outweigh the general effects to a large extent when it becomes a habit. Unfortunately, the habit is becoming prominent among the younger individuals. This is the key problem in food industry because they need to hire employees who do not chew areca nut on order to concern about food hygiene. In such cases, it is very difficult to restrict the usage, and it becomes mandatory to curb the habit as “habits die hard”.


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