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Arecoline Boosting in Sports on Steroids

Betel Nuts - Arecoline

Chewing of betel nut is akin to smoking in most of SE Asia. Chewing betel nut is an old age practice-perhaps more than 4000 years old. The betel nut is broken into small pieces and placed in the mouth. The nut is slowly crushed and the sap is sucked. The small amount of oily water soluble residue is then swallowed. The betel nut is obtained from the Arexa catechu tree, a palm like tree in SE Asia. Today, various formulations of the chewable nut are available. The nut is grinded or chopped into small pieces and placed inside a pepper leaf with small amount of lime, various spices (nutmeg, tumeric, cloves, chilli, coconut, sugar) or even tobacco. These small green leafed packages are widely available in most Asian stores across the nation. Chewing betel nut is similar to chewing tobacco. All over Asia, one can see young man with their mouth full of this concoction. Unlike tobacco, the saliva is swallowed and not spit out. Because the nut is hard, the chewing can go on for hours. While it may look socially acceptable, it sure is not going to get you any type of professional job.

Asians have been aware of the stimulant properties of betel nut for centuries. The product is widely available and is relatively cheap. Claims are that chewing on the betel nut can elevate the spirit and relax the mind. Others have even found it to be a sex stimulant. Infact, it is widely believed that betel nut chewing can prolong erections and is frequently added as gift at bridal showers and at weddings.

There are reports that many young men in SE Asia chew on the nut and then take a love making break, instead of a coffee break. The ready to hump sensations last at least for 30-45 minutes.

The chief purpose of chewing betel nut is to extract out the alkaloids from it- the major one being arecoline. The Arecoline is an alkaloid in the betel nut and is extracted when a little amoutnt of lime is mixed with the betel nut. Chewing raw betel nut is like eating cardboard or chalk.

Arecoline Sex Stimulant

Physiological effects


The Arecoline and various other alkaloids in the betel nut all appears to have a varity of nicotinic like actions. The effects are mainly central but there are also some peripheral effects. In small doses, the nut can produce euphoric effects which last as long as the nut is being chewed.


When excess betel nut is chewed at any one point, the symptoms can be acute. One can develop an intense flush, sweat, stomach cramps, urinary incontinence, confusion, a rush of energy and memory lapse. However, for the average consumer chewing betel nut is like smoking marijuana- it produces a nice sedate feeling.


The effects of chewing betel nut are strictly related to the oily volatile Arecoline, which works like nicotine. Nicotine is a known stimulant of the parasympathetic system and can generate a range of effects including a heightened sense of awareness as well as increased salivation, heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and intestinal function.


Negative side effects


Betel nut also has some negatives. There is evidence that it chewing betel nut on a regular basis can lead to physical and psychological dependence. Besides the nut can lead to poor oral hygiene, choronic ulcers in the mouth and there is a strong link to oral cavity cancers.


The carcinogenic properties of betel nut are linked to arecoline, arecaidine and safrole. Oral cavity cancers are very common in SE asia where betel nut chewing is common.


Betel nut or arecoline alkaloid related products are also frequently found in many chinese medicines. Often these chinese medications are used as diuretics and to treat a number of parasites.


In 2006, California became the first state to pass a bill listing Areca nut as carcinogenic and there are efforts by the state to reinforce the removal of this product from all health food stores.


Body builders

Bodybuilding & Arecoline Betel nut chewing to extract the alkaloid arecoline is now being utilized by many body builders. The alkaloid when acutely ingested can cause a variety of responses in the body which can mimic a aggressive fight response or what is known as boosting. Some individuals can develop a sudden increase in blood pressure, rapid breathing, flushing of the face and a spontaneous increase in energy. This sudden urge of cardiorespiratory stimulus is said to provide the intensity for athletes to perform well in short duration sports like sprints and weight lifting. Called boosting, this is a very active area of research.


Most athletes are not keen on taking steroids and there is always a risk of getting caught. Plus the steroids have to be taken for a long time to see a response. However, now with products like Arecoline, one can produce a boosting of the body’s physiological system and provide extra energy.


A number of athletes have used boosting to produce sudden increases in their cardiorespiratory system by piercing themselves with safety pins. This sudden increase in the sympathetic drive produces an intense burst of energy. This sudden charge is known to improve athletic performance. The response is physiological and legal.


Betel nut has no medical use. It is primarily used as a stimulant for most users. Chinese herbs are used to treat parasites with Arecoline but today we have a lot of safer alternative drugs. Others market the arecoline herbs as an aphrodisiac and as an anti aging therapy.

Like any chemical, betel nut is safe when chewed occasionally. There is evidence that persistent chewing of the betel nut can in fact lead to decreased libido and cloud the mind. Dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea and convulsions have been reported in individuals who have ingested raw Arecoline. The classic features of a betel nut chewer are poor oral hygiene and darkly stained teeth and gums

Because of the nicotinic properties of Arecoline, there is now active research to determine if the alkaloid is beneficial in Alzheimer’s dementia. So far Alzheimer’s disease does not appear to be affected.

Status in Sport

Arecoline, the active ingredient in betel nut, is prohibited under the World Anti-Doping Code 20076 Prohibited List (effective from 01/01/07).

Arecoline is considered a related substance to class 1A-stimulants.


Betel nut is readily available in most asian and chinese stores. the cost of the betel nut can vary from $1-2 for a single leafy package.



Betel nut chewing is legal in the USA




Benegal V, Rajkumar RP, Muralidharan K. Does areca nut use lead to dependence? Drug Alcohol Depend 2008 May 17.


Chandra PS, Mulla U. Areca nut: The hidden Indian 'gateway' to future tobacco use and oral cancers among youth. Indian J Med Sci 2007 Jun; 61(6):319-21.


Chiou SS, Kuo CD. Effect of chewing a single betel-quid on autonomic nervous modulation in healthy young adults. J Psychopharmacol 2008 Feb 28.


Lee KK, Choi JD. The effects of areca catechu L extract on anti-inflammation and anti-melanogenesis. Int J Cosmet Sci 1999 Aug; 21(4):275-84.


Lo J. Essays in public health and preventive medicine. The dangerous betel nut. Mt Sinai J Med 2006 Mar; 73(2):568-9.


Reichart PA, Way TH. Oral cancer and pre-cancer in Myanmar: a short review. J Oral Pathol Med 2006 Apr; 35(4):193-6.


Tanwir F, Altamash M, Gustafsson A. Influence of betel nut chewing, dental care habits and attitudes on perceived oral health among adult Pakistanis. Oral Health Prev Dent 2008; 6(2):89-94.


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