Citation: GregoryM. "A Highly Effective Natural Stimulant: An Experience with Betel Nut (exp110927)". Erowid.org. Sep 19, 2017. erowid.org/exp/110927
Travelling around the South Pacific islands, from Fiji through Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and along the whole coast of Papua New Guinea I observed indigenous locals chewing Betel as part of their daily lives. It was almost invariably chewed with lime (usually ground coral) along with various leaves or other plant extracts.
Locals explained that the lime is to counter the natural acidity of the nuts (actually the fruiting seed of the tree) and that the Betel leaf and other spices were mainly for taste and colour. It is the combination of all 3 elements that produces the red saliva with which Betel nut use is most commonly associated. I disliked this, so quickly began simply chewing fresh Betel without lime or anything else added. There was no difference in the effects either way, but the acidity of Betel would damage tooth enamel with regular use, hence most locals carry ground coral to chew with.
The effects of Betel vary as do any drugs with dosage consumed, the previous physical and mental state of the user and the environment in which it is taken. I did not develop a noticeable tolerance with fairly regular use, nor could I consider it addictive. Its use is widespread and considered as normal as having a cup of tea in Western culture (although a white man chewing betel never failed to amuse the locals!).
One fresh nut chewed with my morning coffee was enough to perk me up noticeably, 2 or 3 and it begins to feel more akin to a mild amphetamine. I tended to chew to help with my work, which could be quite physical in the tropical climate. It increases energy, alertness and heart rate, decreases appetite and I can forget about trying to sleep on it.
In short, when used the way the Papuans use it, Betel is a fantastic natural stimulant, almost freely available and packing way more of a punch than coffee.
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