Betel Nut or Acacia catechu – About the herb, Medicinal Uses and Precautions

Common and Botanical Names of Betel Nut

The Botanical name of Betel Nut is Acacia catechu or Acacia chundra or Acacia polyacantha and belongs to the family Fabaceae Mimosoideae. The Tamil name is Kamugu or Karungali or Pakku. The common names of the herb are betel-nut palm, cutch tree, catechu tree, black cutch, pinang, supari, etc

About Betel Nut

Betel Nut is a small thorny tree which grows upto 15 metres high. The bark is grey in colour and peels off in long strips. It is considered a mineral origin and a natural earth. The tree grows widely in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Kenya.

The betel nut of the tree is a nut and is used very frequently by many people as a mild stimulant. Some people use it for chewing along with tobacco and betel leaves. This has been a practice since ancient times.

Chewing betel is a very common practice in India and is also given to guests after a function like marriage. Though some people take it occasionally, others get addicted to it and take it very often on a daily basis.

The roots and leaves of the tree have great medicinal uses. The nut of the tree also has medicinal uses. The nut should not be taken when young. After the nuts get ripe, they can be dried and used for various purposes.

Primary Medicinal Uses

Digestion

The nut is said to promote digestion. Hence it is used by many people after meals.

Tooth Decay

Chewing pan with betel nut has been a very common habit. It is believed to prevent tooth decay. But this needs to be taken occasionally. Frequent intake results in inflammation leading to cancer.

Cold and Coughs

A substance called Khersal which is found deposited in cavities of the wood I used to treat coughs and cold.

Cancers

Ingredients can be extracted from the tree and used in making medicines for curing cancerous growths.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

Powdered Kamugu nut powder is used for curing diarrhea. It also cures urination disorders. The Kumugu when unripe is powdered and consumed to destroy tapeworms.

Vomiting

The powder of the nut is mixed with turmeric powder and sugar and consumed to prevent vomiting.

Toothpowder

The nut is burnt and powdered and mixed with catechu and cinnamon for preparing toothpaste

Lip skin peeling

Some people face the problem of having the skin in the lips getting peeled off very often. They can sprinkle ashes of betel nut with cardamom over the skin.

Additional Medicinal Uses

Massage

The extract obtained from the tender leaves is used for massaging.

Abortion

Consuming the young leaves causes abortion in early stages of pregnancy.

Other Uses

Fodder Food

Kamugu is widely used as a fodder food for feeding cattle and goats.

Wood

  • The wood of the tree is used as firewood.
  • The wood is also used for making agricultural equipments and house posts.

Dyeing

A tannin like substance can be extracted from the wood which can be used for dyeing silk, cotton, canvas, leather, paper products.

Precautions

  • Consuming unripe nut causes damage to eyesight.
  • Consuming the young leaves causes abortion in early stages of pregnancy.
  • Excess intake of the nut causes urinary stones to be formed.
  • Excess intake of the nut causes anaemia and jaundice.
  • Consuming the nut can cause low blood pressure.

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