Learn About Arecoline, An Alkaloid Compound of Areca Nut

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Arecoline is an alkaloid compound that occurs naturally in the areca nut of the areca palm tree. The areca nut will be more recognizable if one were to mention that it is the main component of betel nut chewing. Arecoline is what gives the nut its mildly stimulating effects when chewed on. Arecoline has an oily consistency and it is typically odorless. Its molecular structure is similar to nicotine, which is probably why the effect of Arecoline is often compared to that of smoking.

The practice of chewing areca nut with betel leaf is prevalent in South and Southeast Asia and it is believed to be an around for centuries. While the method preparing and chewing betel leaf with areca nut varies from one region to another, it has become an intrinsic part of the culture of the countries that practice it. Among the countries that practice the chewing betel nuts include China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Maldives, the Solomon Islands, Guam, and Palau.

Areca nutSome studies on the alkaloid observed that Arecoline was able to improve the learning abilities of healthy subjects. This is the same reason why Arecoline was proposed for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases at one time. This is the reason why a few daring individuals in online nootropic community forums have contemplated and have even tried chewing on areca nuts. The traditional way of chewing areca nuts usually includes slaked lime, some spices, and tobacco all folded up together with both dried and tender areca nut inside betel leaves. This is known as a betel quid.

The stimulating effects of Arecoline, while similar to nicotine, has a different mechanism of action. Nicotine binds itself with nicotinic acetycholine neurotransmitters, while Arecoline stimulates muscarinic acetylcholine, which is believed to be the reason why betel nut chewers often experience parasympathetic effects such as papillary and bronchial constrictions.

As a cognitive enhancer, Arecoline just may hold some promise as initial studies indicate that it can improve the learning abilities of the test subjects. Chewing areca nuts with betel leaf gives one a sense of heightened alertness, mild euphoria, increased focus, and an enhanced sense of well-being. Regular areca chewers also report an increased energy and motivation to accomplish any given task. These properties alone of areca nut chewing, which essentially is a form of Arecoline self-administration indicates that the compound may indeed have cognitive enhancing properties.

Betel nut chewers, especially the older ones, maintain a relatively good memory and cognition well into their golden years. A study was done on Arecoline with individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and the study showed that the subjects experienced noticeable spatial memory and verbal improvement. Arecoline was also proposed as a treatment for alcoholism. Regular chewers in the Polynesian islands were observed to have the ability consume more alcohol before getting inebriated.

Before you start popping them palm nuts into your mouth however, it is important to note that betel nut chewing hasn’t caught on in the West partly because it is highly carcinogenic, especially when mixed with tobacco. It may also be considered by some party poopers in the West as being a disgusting habit. This is because once the areca nuts and its Arecoline content starts working its magic, it sends your salivary glands into overdrive. Your mouth will start spilling over bright red drool in a continuous flow long after you have gnawed upon your last piece of areca nut. Even if you are lucky enough to escape the Big C, you’ll have yourself a set of blackened and eroded teeth after a short while.

PROS

  1. It has a mild stimulating effect.
  2. It does have some cognitive enhancing effect.
  3. It is dirt cheap.
  4. You can drink your buddies under the table.
  5. You’ll have cool looking red drool.

CONS

  1. You can get cancer and die.
  2. You’ll never get a date.
  3. You’ll wish you have a better dental plan.

To sum up, better not do it. Some organic online stores are selling it though, just in case you want to do it for kicks.

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