Simon’s Betel Nut Guide

First of all, there is a lot of confusion regarding Betel nuts.

Let me clarify it.

The three main Betel products are:

Betel nut, nut of the Areca catechu palm tree – Betel nut is what most people mean when they say Betel in the West (because fresh betel leaves are not available in the West, most people are only ever heard of Betel nuts).

Betel leaves from the plant Piper betle – This is what most people mean when they say betel in Asia.

And paan, which is mixture of betel leaves and betel nuts – Paan is practically unheard of outside of Asia. Paan is a combination of betel leaves, tobacco, lime and areca nuts, and it is commonly prepared during festivities.

Betel leaves and Betel nuts are both often called betel but they are not the same plant.

Betel nut  – Areca catechu


Betel nut (the fruit of the areca palm) is a very popular recreational drug in Indonesia, India and all over southern Asia. It should  not to be mistaken with the other common recreational drug that is also called Betel, Piper betle, which is an entirely different plant.

Betel nuts are the dried and roasted fruits of the Areca catechu tree.

It is often consumed together with betel leaves.
This mixture is called paan and it is very popular in Asia but practically unheard of outside of Asia and the Middle East.

usual dosage is between 10 – 50 grams per day, per person, on average.

An average betel nut user chews between 10 – 50 grams a day.

The main active ingredient is arecoline (see below).

A picture showing the different ways Betel nuts (Arecha nuts) can be cut using an automated machine. The cuts from top left to right are: circul, chips one cut, chips two cut , rough, mamri, roasted cutting, diamond, gutkha, sadi cutting, sadi cutting 1, sadi cutting 2, fadcha.
Different ways betel nut is cut


Effects of Betel nut: the effects of betel nuts are best described as a combination of tobacco and caffeine, it’s a mild stimulant and mild mood enhancer.

Interesting: in Taiwan scantily dressed woman selling Betel are part of the accepted mainstream culture.

These so called “Betel nut beauties” can be seen alongside high-traffic roads all over Taiwan selling Betel and cigarettes.

On the picture is a "Betel nut girl". In Taiwan women dressed in lingerie sell paan, betel leaves, cigarettes and betel to drivers.
A scantily dressed “betel nut girl” selling betel nuts and cigarettes to drivers.


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Betel nut guide


Buy Betel nut – USA

You can buy Areca nuts in the US here:

Update: No longer sold in the US due to some changes in legislation (wholesale import is prohibited, small orders from outside the US are still fine).

Try ordering it from a European vendor below (they offer free international shipping).


Buy Betel nut – Netherlands


To buy areca nuts in the Netherlands go here:

Haven’t found any Dutch stores selling it.

Let me know in the comments below if you know of a place, where you can buy Betel nut in the Netherlands or anywhere in mainland Europe online.



Betel’s main active ingredient Arecoline and it’s effects

This is a picture of the chemical formula of arecoline. The formula of arecoline is Methyl 1-methyl-1,2,5,6-tetrahydropyridine-3-carboxylate
Arecoline – main active ingredient in betel nuts

Arecoline is the primary active ingredient responsible for the betel nut high.

Arecoline’s effects has been compared to nicotine.

Arecoline is a mild stimulant and mood enhancer.

It also causes slight pupillary constriction and bronchial constriction.

Betel nuts – legal status

Country-by-country breakdown: 

It is only illegal to chew betel nuts in the United Arab Emirates.

United Arab EmiratesIllegal

Betel nut chewing was outlawed in the UAE due to the high number of migrant workers from India, who brought this habit with them.


Betel consumption method, dosage and preparation

Betel nut consumption method:  chewing .

Insufflation is not possible and smoking is not effective.

People do not swallow the nut, they spit them out after chewing them for about 5-20 minutes.

Betel dosage


Betel nuts: usual dosage is between 10 – 50 grams per day, per person, on average.


Betel nut preparation

Betel nuts are dried and cut. They have a long shelf life.

There are many ways to cut betel nuts (see the picture at the beginning).

In Asia many vendors actually roast the betel nuts on the spot. This is mostly to attract customers who are enticed by the familiar and pungent smell of betel nuts but you don’t have to roast them.


Dangers of betel consumption

Excessive use of betel causes:

  • discoloration of  teeth
  • increased risk of oral cancer
  • loss of teeth

If betel is consumed with tobacco the risk is even higher!

Spitting out the chewed material in public spaces also poses a health risk. In crowded cities this biological contamination can help the spread of various diseases (it is banned in many cities).

There is also some evidence linking higher incidence of cardiovascular disease to more frequent use of betel.

Source: US national library of medicine – Mycotic pulmonary artery aneurysm: an unusual complication of ventriculo-atrial shunt



Betel health benefits

The main active ingredient in the betel plant (arecoline) has been shown to improve the learning ability of healthy volunteers.

Intravenous administration of arecoline also improved the  verbal and spatial memory of Alzheimer’s patients.

Source: Physostigmine and arecoline: effects of intravenous infusions in Alzheimer presenile dementia

Arecoline has also been used medicinally as an antihelmintic (a drug against parasitic worms).

Source: Pubmed – Oral submucous fibrosis in a 12-year-old Bangladeshi boy: a case report and review of literature

According to traditional Ayurvedic medicine, chewing betel leaf is a remedy for bad breath.



Betel nut trip reports


The following are trip reports of ordinary people from all over the web, who chewed betel nuts:

I started by chewing half a slice, just to be on the safe side. Immediately, there was a striking sensation in the mouth – this is a powerful astringent. Another very striking effect was the flood of saliva released. 

About a minute after I started chewing, I felt something very mild. At that time, I decided I had enough of the taste and spit it out. There was a marked lightheadedness, but that was about it for the effects. So I decided to go for a whole slice.

As I chewed on that one, I felt a rather rapid (but still mild) effect. I would be very hesitant to call it a “rush” though, since I tend to reserve that term for things like Speedballs or IV Ketamine.

This is one of those stimulants that are simultaneously sedating and stimulating.”


Source: Bluelight – Areca nut – Trip report


“In less than 10 minutes my arms and legs felt a tingle and I felt very lightheaded.

Colors seemed a bit brighter and my vision was slightly off, I can best describe it as looking at life like it was a movie you watch on the internet not quite fluid a bit choppy, like a strobe light effect minus the light. Are you following me? I continued to chew more nuts and experienced several peaks on this trip. All in all very pleasing and relaxing. I was as the song goes ‘Comfortably Numb’. I would give just one word of caution, don’t chew betel nut while driving, I did this last weekend and it was a bit frightening. It’s a fun way to spend an evening at home with friends or by yourself.”

Source: Erowid – Betel nut – Trip report


“I got some baked and sliced betel nuts in the mail today with some edible lime (NOT the fruit, but the mineral).

Once it was all mixed I stuffed it between my jaw and my cheek, like dip. I kept it in for the next 4 hours. I found it gave me a great little buzz. Slightly giddy and talkative. Similar to coffee only smoother. When I found the buzz was going down I would chew on it some more then put it back into the dip position.”

Source: Erowid – Betel nut – Trip report



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Some of the information presented here might be outdated or incorrect (check “last updated” below). Make sure, that if you are planning to try out any of the substances to research them yourself as well.

I’m 100% committed to safe and responsible legal high consumption. If you have a few minutes to spare please read my blog post about responsible and safe legal drugs use

Betel nuts are only one of the legal highs included in Simon’s legal high guide, check out the others as well.

If you are only interested in legal stimulants, then check out Simon’s Legal Stimulants for more.

Last updated: 2015 10. 21