Areca Nuts

| Home | | Pharmacognosy |

Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Alkaloids

Areca nuts are the seeds of Areca catechu Linn., belonging to family Palmaceae.






Betal nuts; Pinang; Semina Areacae, Supari (Hindi).


Biological Source


Areca nuts are the seeds of Areca catechu Linn., belonging to family Palmaceae.


Geographical Source


The tree is cultivated in tropical India, Sri Lanka, Malay States, South China, East Indies, Philippine Islands and parts of East Africa (including Zanzibar and Tanzania). In India it is cultivated in the coastal regions of southern Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Bengal and Assam.


Cultivation and Collection


Areca palm is mostly propagated by seeds. The palm requires a moist tropical climate for luxuriant growth; it is very sensitive to drought. It grows in areas with heavy rainfall in between temperature of 15–38°C. It is cultivated in plains, hill slopes and low lying valleys. The seeds are collected from 25–50 years old trees.


Areca nut is a handsome palm with a tall, slender stem crowned by large elegant leaves. Each tree contains about 100 fruits per year which are detached by means of bamboo poles and the seeds extracted. The pericarp is fibrous and surrounds a single seed which is easily separated. The seeds are usually boiled in water with the addition of a little lime and dried.




Areca nuts are about 2.5 cm in length, bluntly rounded, conical in shape and 2–3 cm wide at the base. The testa is brown and marked with a network of small depressed lines. The ruminate endosperm is opal-white. Patches of a silvery coat, the inner layer of the pericarp, occasionally adhere to the testa. The deep-brown testa is marked with a network of depressed fissures; the colour of the testa is due to the presence of tannin. In the centre basal part of the endosperm, the small embryo is situated and an external pale area indicated its position. The seed is very hard, has a faint cheese-like odour when broken and an astringent, acrid taste.


                         Tree of Areca catechu 

Chemical Constituents


Areca nut contains a number of alkaloids of a piperidine series, such as arecoline (methyl ester of arecanine), arecaine (N-methyl guvacine), guvacine (tetrahydronicitinic acid), arecaidine, guvacoline, arecolidine, leucocyanidine, (+)-catechin, (-)-epicatechin, procyanidins A-l, B-l and B-2; phthalic, lauric, myristic, palmitic and stearic acids, β-sitosterol and choline. Arecoline is present in about 0.1–0.5% yield and is medicinally important. In addition to alkaloids, areca nuts contain fat (14%) and amorphous red tannin (15%) known as areca red of phlobaphene nature. The fat consists mainly of the glycerides of lauric, myristic and oleic acids.




Powdered Areca is used as anthelmintic, taenifuge and vermifuge for dogs. It has aphrodisiac action and useful in urinary disorders, as nervine tonic and emmenagogue. The chewing of Areca nut may cause mouth cancer.


Substituents and Adulterants


Nuts from other plants, such as, Areca caliso, A. concinna, A. ipot, A. laxa, A. nagensis, A. triandra, Caryota cumingii and Heterospathe elata are used as substituents for Areca nuts.


Sago palm nuts (Metroxylon species), dried tapioca (Manihot esculenta), and slices of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) form cheap adulterants that are mixed with slices of Areca nuts and prove a serious menace affecting the industry. Nuts of Caryota urens, cut to various shapes and sizes resembling genuine Areca nuts, and coated with concentrated Areca nut extract kali, form the principal adulterant. Adultera-tion above 10% significantly increases the fibre content of the sample, which can be used as a measure of detecting adulteration.


Marketed Products


It is one of the ingredients of the preparations known as Himplasia (Himalaya Drug Company), Khadiradi bati (Baidyanath) and Pigmento (Charak Pharma Pvt. Ltd.).


Contact Us, Privacy Policy, Terms and Compliant, DMCA Policy and Compliant

TH 2019 - 2024; Developed by Therithal info.