Health Guide

Betel nut

What is it?

Betel Nut is an herbal medicine that is used to help digestion, sore throat, and cough. It is used like chewing tobacco in India and Asia.

Other names for Betel Nut include: Areca Catechu, Areca Palm, Areca Nut, Betel, Betel Palm, Catechu, Kwai, and Paan.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease


Talk with your caregiver about how much Betel Nut you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Betel Nut. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Drug and Food Interactions:

Do not take Betel Nut without talking to your doctor first if you are taking:

  • Medicine for some mental illnesses (examples: fluphenazine (Prolixin(R)), thioridazine (Mellaril(R)), haloperidol (Haldol(R)), loxapine (Loxitane(R)), molindone (Moban(R)), olanzapine (Zyprexa(R)), pimozide (Orap(R)), thiothixene (Navane(R)))
  • Medicine for Parkinson's Disease (examples: amantadine (Symmetrel(R)), benztropine (Cogentin(R)), biperiden (Akineton(R)), procyclidine (Kemadrin(R)), trihexyphenidyl (Artane(R)))
  • Medicines used for stomach problems (cisapride (Propulsid(R)), dicyclomine (Bentyl(R))
  • Bethanechol (Duvoid(R), Urecholine(R))
  • Ipratropium (Atrovent(R))


  • Before taking Betel Nut, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Do not take Betel Nut if you have asthma as it may worsen the asthma (1,2)
  • Long term Betel Nut use may increase your chance of getting mouth cancer (1)

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Heartbeat changes (3,4)
  • High blood pressure (5)
  • Seizures (convulsions) and paralysis (3,6)
  • Face redness (1,6)
  • Sweating and having more mouth juices (spit) than normal (3)
  • Nausea (upset stomach) (6)
  • Blurred vision (4)
  • Numbness of the tongue and mouth from chewing Betel Nut (1,3)
  • Red, brown, or black tongue and mouth discoloration from chewing Betel Nut (1,3)


1. Fetrow CW & Avila JR: Professional's Handbook of Complementary and Alternative Medicines. Springhouse Corp, Springhouse, PA, USA; 1999.

2. Fugh-Berman A: Herb-drug interactions. Lancet 2000; 355(9198):134-138.

3. Farnsworth ER: Betel nut--its composition, chemistry, and uses. Sci in New Quinea 1976; 4(2):85-90.

4. Winstock AR, Trivedy CR, Warnakulasuriya KAAS et al: A dependency syndrome related to areca nut use: some medical and psychological aspects among areca nut users in the Gujarat community in the UK. Addiction Biol 2000; 5(2):173-179.

5. Chu NS: Cardiovascular responses to betel chewing. J Formos Med Assoc 1993; 92(9):835-837.

6. Arjungi VKN: Areca nut. Arzneim-Forsch (Drug Res) 1976; 26(5):951-956.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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