Betel

In southern parts of Asia, mainly in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, southern China, and also in East Africa, many people chew BETEL NUT (Areca catechu). The nut is prepared by wrapping it in a betel pepper leaf (Piper belle) with a compound of lime (calcium hydroxide or calcium carbonate) and spices. Chewing this preparation produces mild stimulating effects. At the same time, the saliva becomes red and the mouth and teeth are stained red. Mouth cancer may result.

The ancient Greek traveler and historian Herodotus wrote about betel-nut chewing in 340 B.C. Although its use seems to be declining, an estimated 400 million persons are still dependent on this substance.

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