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Areca catechu is the areca palm or areca nut palm, a species of palm which grows in much of the tropical Pacific, Asia, and parts of east Africa. It is belongs to the genus Areca and family Arecaceae. It is a medium-sized and graceful palm tree, growing straight to 20 m tall, with a trunk 10-15cm in diameter. The leaves are 1.5-2 m long, pinnate, with numerous, crowded leaflets.
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Botanical Names
Areca catechu
Indian Names
Sanskrit : Akoth, Chamarpushpa, Guvakah, Pugaphal, Pugi, Udveg, Valktaruh Kannada : Adake, Adike Konkani : Pophala, Supari Malay : Pokok, Pinang Malayalam : Kamuk, Kavung Marathi : Pophal, Pophali, Pug, Pugaphal, Pugiphala, Supari Gujarati : Supari
Chemical Constituents
The major compounds of Areca catechu are polyphenolic compounds, alkaloids, tannin, arecoline, arecaidine and fibers. Areca catechu is the only one of 54 Areca species known to contain alkaloids. In early work, arecoline and guvacoline (methyl 1-methyl-1, 2, 3, 6- tetrahydropyridine-3-carboxylate and methyl 1, 2, 3, 6- tetrahydropyridine-3-carboxylate, respectively) and the corresponding carboxylic acids were isolated. The Arecaine is the active principle of the Areca nut. Watery extract yields betel-nut catechu while the “kernels” contain catechu, tannin 15%, gallic acid, oily matter (fat 14%), gum and alkaloids, viz. arecoline, arecaine, arecaidine and guvacoline, guvacine and choline occur in trace only. All these alkaloids are chemically related; arecoline is colorless volatile resembling nicotine. Total amounts of phenolics in areca fruit were well correlated with the length and maturation, but those of alkaloids were only correlated with the maturation (1). The Areca catechu seed contains alkaloids such as arecaine and arecoline, which, when chewed, is intoxicating and is also slightly addictive. The seed also contains condensed tannins (procyanidins) called arecatannins.
Pesticide Limits
A limit for pesticide is one of the major issues in standardization of medicinal plants and products in view of the worldwide widespread use of pesticides in cultivated plants. The presence of pesticides in extracts increase the health risk by many folds. The pesticides can be extremely irritant on skin as well as in the internal organs hence it is essential to monitor its concentration as a part of GMP. Various analytical methods for the quantitative determination of pesticides by gas chromatography coupled with mass-spectrophotometer are in use. Konark Research Foundation (KRF), a NABL certified lab is well equipped with the latest technology and instruments and monitors the pesticide limit as part of its GMP.
Chromatographic Profile
From the pharmacopoeial perspective, a better quality control of raw material can be achieved by specifying quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content of the active ingredient or marker substances. A chromatographic finger profile represents qualitative/ quantitative determination of various components present in a complex plant extract, irrespective whether or not their exact identity is known. Thin layer chromatographic technique is the simplest and least expensive method that provides plenty of information on the composition of raw herbs and its preparation. For quantitative analysis of active ingredients or marker substances with simultaneous separation and detection High Pressure liquid chromatography is the best technique. We use the latest model of HPLC for all its analysis.
Limits of Impurities
A test requirement for foreign organic matter would ensure the extent of contamination of extraneous matters such as filth and other parts of botanicals not covered by the definition of the herbal drug. Since sand and soil are predictable contaminants of botanicals, test requirements for ‘total ash’, water soluble ash’, ‘acid soluble ash’, residue on ignition and sulphated ash would be expected to limit such contaminants. Test requirement for heavy metals in botanical raw material are probably more relevant for parts of plants growing under ground than for the aerial parts of the plant. The presence of high levels of minerals interacts with the final product there by affecting its keeping quality.
Microbial Limits
If the raw herbs are to be used directly without boiling in water prior to consumption, restrictive limits on microbial contaminants are required for pathogens such as Salmonella sp. Enterobacter and E. coli which are causative agent for various gastrointestinal diseases. A lower level of yeasts and molds and a limit on total aerobes are considered appropriate in plant material for topical use. The presence of aflatoxins detected by chemical means is generally independent of the number of viable molds that are detected using microbiological methods. Aflatoxins in microgram quantity are capable of giving serious hypersensitivity reactions which can be extremely harmful to human health.
Pharmacology
The chemical entities of Areca catechu plant has anti diabetic, blood pressure regulating agent, anti ulceogenic, antioxidant, anticonvulsant, stimulant, antifertility, anthelmintic and antiviral properties. The extract of Areca catechu has been shown to have antidepressant properties, but it may be addictive. Different extracts like aqueous, alcoholic, alkaline and acid extracts resulted in the constriction of capillaries to varying degree when tested by rat hind limb perfusion technique. Alcoholic extracts of leaves exhibited various pharmacological properties like effects on respiration and antispasmodic property on isolated guinea pig ileum (1). The alcoholic extract of nut showed antimicrobial activity against Escherichia coli, Candida albicans, C. tropicalis, and Tricophyton interdigitale. It is found that both Gram positive and Gram negative organisms are susceptible to Areca nut extract. Extract was also inhibits aflatoxin production by Aspergillus flavus. The growth inhibition of Streptococcus mutans by 5'-nucleotidase inhibitors from Areca catechu has also been observed scientifically. To identify substances with anti-human immunodeficiency virus activity in traditional medicines, water and methanol extracts of Areca catechu used in Indian traditional medicine were subjected to screening for their inhibitory effects on HIV type 1 protease. The most potent inhibition was shown by the A. catechu extract, from which some procyanidins were isolated. Arecatannin showed significant HIV-1-Protease inhibitory activity,
Health Benefits
etel nut was once used in toothpaste to prevent cavities. Laboratory studies suggest that betel nut have antibacterial effects, which may reduce the development of cavities. Areca Nut can also be made into a dentrifrice on account of its astringent properties. It is considered to strengthen the gum, sweeten breath. Betel nut may cause stimulant and euphoric effects. As a result, it is sometimes used recreationally. It has been previously shown that among various alkaloid constituents from areca nut, alkaloids in dichloromethane fraction were found to be biologically active both in vivo and in vitro. This fraction potently inhibits monoamine oxidase-A activity and thus restores or increases bioavailability of monoamines, 5-hydroxytryptamine or noradrenaline in the brain, dichloromethane fraction has antidepressant activity (5). The active-oxygen scavenging activity of methanolic extract of Areca catechu used in China and Japan as nourishing tonics was evaluated by electron spin resonance technique, in order to evaluate its effectiveness for anti-aging and to search for new active-oxygen scavengers from natural resources. It especially showed strong scavenging activity against super- oxide anion radical.
Application in Cosmetics
Significant inhibitory effects of the extracts of Areca catechu on the ageing and inflammation of skin tissues has been observed. The experimental results suggest that the phenolic substance purified from A. catechu has an anti-ageing effect by protecting connective tissue proteins. The anti-aging effects of Areca catechu extract on skin were investigated both in vitro and in vivo. The inhibitory effect of Areca catechu on the elastase exhibited 37 to 90% inhibition. The Areca catechu extract also increased proliferation of human fibroblast cell by 85%. The collagen synthesis was also increased. As a result treatment with Areca catechu extract improved skin hydration, the skin elasticity, and skin wrinkles. From these research studies, it can be suggested that Areca catechu can be used as a new anti-aging component for cosmetics.
Research References
1. Priyanka R. P., Sachin U. R., P. N. Dhabale and K. B. Burade Pharmacological activities of Areca catechu Linn. – A Review Journal of Pharmacy Research 2009, 2(4):683-687 2. Holdsworth D. K., Jones R. A. and Self R, Volatile alkaloids from Areca catechu Phytochemistry 1998, 48(3):581-582 3. Iwamoto M., Uchino K., Toukairin T., Kawaguchi K., Tatebayashi T., Ogawara H. and Tonosaki Y. The growth inhibition of Streptococcus mutans by 5'-nucleotidase inhibitors from Areca catechu L. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 1991, 39(5):1323-1324. 4. Ines T. K., Takeshi N., Hiroaki K., Hirotsugu M., Masao H., Tsuneo N. and Kunitada S. Screening of various plant extracts used in ayurvedic medicine for inhibitory effects on human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) protease Phytotherapy Research 1995, 9(3):180–184 5. Ahsana Dar and Shagufta Khatoon Antidepressant Effects of Ethanol Extract of Areca catechu in Rodentsn Phytotherapy Research 1997 11(2):174–176 6. Penpun W., Thawatchai P., Chutima L. and Sindhchai K. The Study of Antioxidant capacity in various parts of Areca catechu L. Naresuan University Journal 2006, 14(1):1-14 7. Si Eun L., Hyun J. H., Jung-Sun H., Han-S. J. and Jeong H. K. Screening of medicinal plant extracts for antioxidant activity 2003, Life Sciences 73(2):167-179 8. Kun K. L. and Jung-Do C. The Effects of Areca Catechu L Extract on Anti-Aging International Journal of Cosmetic Science1999, 21(4):285–295 9. K.-K. Lee., J.-J. Cho., E.-J. Park. And J.-D. Choi Anti-elastase and anti-hyaluronidase of phenolic substance from Areca catechu as new anti-ageing agent International Journal of Cosmetic Science 2001, 23(6):341–346 10. Sung-June B., Hee-Sook K., Seon-Min J., Yong Bok P., Myung-Sook C. Supplementation of Areca catechu L. Extract Alters Triglyceride Absorption and Cholesterol Metabolism in Rats Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism 2001, 45:279-284