Areca catechu Linn

Family ► Palmae; Arecaceae.

Habitat ► Native to Malaysia; now grown along the coasts of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Maharashtra.

English ► Arecanut, Betel Nut.

Ayurvedic ► Puuga, Puugi, Kramuka, Ghontaa, Guwaak, Ghorant.

Unani ► Fufal, Chhaalia, Supaari.

Siddha/Tamil ► Kottai Paakku, Kamugu.

Action ► Taeniacide (confined to veterinary medicine), astringent, stimulant.

Along with other therapeutic application, The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India indicates the use of dried ripe seed in leucorrhoea and vaginal laxity.

Arecanut contains several alkaloids belonging to pyridine group, the most important being arecoline (0.1-0.5%). Arecaidine, guvacine and isoguvacine are also present. Arecoline is an-thelmintic (in animals, not in humans). Arecaidine has no parasympa-thomimetic effects, but only stimulating properties; sedative in higher doses. Isoguvacine produces hypotension.

Contraindicated in asthma due to bronchoconstrictive effects of the alkaloid arecoline (human case reports). (Francis Brinker.)

Arecanut tannins (8.0-18.0%) are predominantly catechol tannins which closely resemble Mimosa bark tannins. Powdered nuts are prescribed in diarrhoea and urinary disorders. In combination with other astringent and styptic herbs, arecanut is used as a major constituent in confections of Indian medicine for gynaecological disorders.

Aqueous extract of the nut exhibits direct vasoconstriction and adrenaline potentiation in rats. Antimicrobial activity is due to polyphenolic fraction. Tannins potentiated the action of acetylcholine in ileum and uterus of rat and noradrenaline on seminal vesicle at low concentration.

Due to increased incidence of oral cancer associated with betel chewing, the use of arecanut as a masticatory is being discouraged.

60 Argemone mexicana Linn.

Seeds are toxic at 8-10 g, fluid extract at 3.7 ml; and arecoline hydrobromide at 4.3-6.5 mg. (Francis Brinker.)

Dosage ► Dried ripe fruit—1-2 g powder. (API Vol. I.)

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