Betel nut is a masticatory drug used by more than 600 million people worldwide. Despite having addictive qualities similar to tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol, not much research has been done by Western literature.
More commonly used in Far East Asia, India, and the South Pacific, betel nut chewing was originally a remedy to relieve tapeworms and roundworms. Today it is seen as an acceptable practice, with 15% of the world’s population chewing betel nuts daily.
Aside from the telltale red saliva stains, it leaves behind, betel nut chewing comes with a set of health complications including asthma exacerbation, cholinergic crisis, cardiac arrhythmias, acute psychosis, milk-alkali syndrome, and oropharyngeal tumors.
This research goes into further detail about the negative side effects of betel nut chewing.