Betel Nut (from the old FOTI Forum)

Betel nut forum, March 18, 2006

Posted by Pete Black, May 1, 2005

I suppose all you betel nut nuts (sorry) know that there are health issues to think about.  And everyone knows that when chewers come to the States finding betel nut can be a HUGE problem.

Back in the day, Southwest Island people didn't chew.   Betel did grow on Tobi but not the pepper leaf, and on Sonsorol it was the other way round. (Or am I remembering it backwards).  So no one living on the island chewed. Even the people living in Eang didn't chew. During that time just about everyone smoked tobacco and smoked a lot. But now, many people don't smoke at all.  So that's a big change.   My question is: Is it harder to quit betel than tobacco?



cila:   May 3, 2005 3:07 PM

I have been chewing since I was 16 years old, that time if i didn't have buuch it was no biggy. I'm still chewing and i still feel the same except when I need to study all night or like now I have to work at 11pm to 7 am and that is when i need it. I think it depends on the people.

I know that when I was working in Palau Behavioral Health there was an Australian guy that came down and did the betelnut study and I really don't know what happen. I know one thing that was found. Betelnut has a very small amount of narc on the skin. I think that is what hooks people.



Anonymous:   May 15, 2005 7:27 PM

Wow, betel chewers and betel beauties! What is betelnut chewing? Betelnut chewing plays important roles in our Pacific communities - particulary speaking of Palauan and Yapese. In essence betelnut chewing has socio-cultural elements of it. If want to advance in the Palauan society. Chewing betelnut and sharing of it in the work environment,sports, funerals, meetings, and other social functions can bring about improved inter-personal relationships and personal advancement to certain social privileges. The habitual chew and sharing say a lot more of self identity - the sense of belonging or belongings to a group or groups of people. Betelnut chewing at times ties relationships and hastens the process of self-recognition inside and outside of a group or groups of people. It involves a sublime democratic process elements which ties people together. In conflict resolution matters - betelnut chewing serves you well in the Palauan and Yapese cultures. Sharing betelnut chews with others is a brotherly act that is grately appreciate by the recepient and it is often reciprocated - a familial reciprocity which transcends itself. For example, people fall in love, love at first sight, talk about peace and order while chewing betelnut. All have been successful when betelnut chewing involve. This is to mean that betelnut chewing is not merely a fad but it has socio-cultural implication aspects which advance human connectedness in our community which is becoming a prototype of western individualistic or capitalistic communities and societies.



Justin:   May 25, 2005 12:54 AM

In Peter's May 01 message, he asked a question and it has not been answered. I'm not a beetle chewer so I'll try my best here to answer that question. "Is it harder to quit beetle than tabacco?" From what I have seen, I think it is harder to quit beetle than tabacco. First, beetle chewers begin at a very early age unlike tabacco smokers, thus the habit becomes hard to kick and secondly, health effects of beetle chewing have not caught up with alot of chewers unlike health effects of smoking. Lastly, social implications of not chewing while others beside you chew does not help you socially, I guess, according to "anonymous" writer. Scientists, health officials etc...have to really put on a good education about the ill effects of beetle chewing. With this, I think beetle chewers will think twice before putting that "paradise nut" in their mouth.



Aunchalee:   May 27, 2005 7:50 AM

Hi everyone,

This is my first time posting here. I am learning so much by reading all the posts on the website. I hope you don't mind if I (an "outsider") chime in.

There are two very interesting articles on betel nut chewing in Palau. They may by the same researcher Cila mentioned, Roger Sullivan. He's written some very interesting articles about mental health disorders and betel nut. His theory is that chewing betel nut is actually adaptive and helps people with schizophrenia in Palau to adapt to social life better (see: R. Sullivan et al.(2000 British Journal of Psychiatry, 177:174-48). He's actually published a few articles on the subject. If people are interested I have electronic copies that I can forward them to the Webmaster to post.
One of the questions I asked when doing my research in Echang (1999-2002) was about this same topic. The general response was that betel chewing was probably more difficult to give up than smoking cigarettes. A majority of folks complained about severe tooth pain once they tried giving up betel chewing. Many people admitted that they tried to quit chewing, but that they were never ultimately successful. To complicate matters, so many people chew cigarettes with their betel nut these days, the habit is more addictive than ever before! It is no wonder people have a hard time giving it up. I thought it was interesting that several people said they switched to betel nut to help them quit smoking cigarettes, or started smoking cigarettes to stop chewing betel nut! Another common reason people gave for not giving up the chew is, that as was mentioned earlier, chewing is an important social activity and an act of building social relations. Many many hours are spent looking for buch, cruising around stores selecting the right size, shape, etc., bumming chew off neighbors. Many hours of talking story and social bonding also happen around the act of chewing. It's a pleasant past time that people enjoy.
The final reason people said they had not yet given up betel nut is that most did not believe it was bad for them. Studies have shown, however, that chewing cigarettes with betel nut, increases the "unhealthiness" of the chew. Probably historically chewing betel nut prevented a number of health problems, particularly dental problems. A dentist and doctor who I interviewed in Palau talked about the acid content in a traditional betel quid and how it helps to neutralize oral bacteria and prevent plaque build up. However, these days so much is chewed that it has a detrimental effect on teeth and gums. Dental health seems to be on the bottom of the list of health concerns among most Echang residents that I interviewed, so that's not going to be a persuasive reason to quit.
My main concern is the effect of chewing betel nut on gastric health (ulcers, indigestion, acid reflux) and on stress. Studies have shown that betel nut is definitely related to hypertension/ high blood pressure, and we all know that tobacco is a culprit of this as well. There is so much obesity, hypertension, and heart disease in Palau that I'm sure the chewing habit, espeically mixed with tobacco, does not help. A "catch 22" with the habit is that people chew to RELIEVE STRESS, when physiologically, the chemical changes in the body associated with chewing are "stressful" and lead to high blood pressure. It's a complicated problem worth more research for sure.
Thanks for reading!
By the way, how do you say "chew" and "spit" on Tobian? :)



Justin:   May 27, 2005 11:21 AM

Great job!! Aunchalee and thanks for the interesting information on the "betel nut" issue. I dont chew and never really paid much attention to it except when I'm driving on the road and something "red" squirts out of the window of the car in front of me!!! gosh, cant they just swallow that?? I would like to see that report on betel nut you mentioned. I would like to educate my children about betel nuts as they are growing fast and in a society that chewing betel is a social norm.

Lastly, did you mean to ask what is chew and spit (in) Tobian or (on) Tobian. I would defer and assume that your question is what is chew and spit (IN) Tobian. hehehe....I dont think you meant to ask the question the other way that may be offensive. but anyways, chew is "nguung" and spit is "hutuf" or "hootoof". So if you say chew this and spit it away in Tobian, it would be "nguutamo mere hosa hutufaroh".




Aunchalee:   May 28, 2005 2:19 AM

Hi Justin,
Oh no! It was a typo, I meant to as how to say it IN the Tobian language! Thank you for correcting that mistake!
If you e-mail me ) I can send you an electronic copy of the articles. I will also forward them to the FOTI webmaster.
Thanks for the translation as well.



Justin:   May 28, 2005 10:38 AM

Aunchalee, thank you.
I live here is Saipan and there have been numerous efforts by some of the Gov. Departments to put a stop on this betel chewing and spitting at work. Chewing is really prevalent here, almost or becoming a part of the culture. Alot of my friends chew and I would like to share your report with them. Hopefully, it would make them think twice.



FOTI Webmaster:   May 29, 2005 3:21 AM

I just posted the Roger Sullivan, et al., articles on betel nut chewing on FOTI on the Research & Reference/New Discoveries page.



charley patris:   May 29, 2005 4:52 PM

greeting to you all(sister, neice, and relative)

I agree with mr. Black, back in their days, Tobian dont chew. I think chewing become popular when the young generation started chewing. I'm one of them,

As mr. black indicated that there are health issue about. yes the issue that i know is being addictive.

I dont know if there are other hazards about it, but if it is, then let us know.

anyone who is chewing will come up with lot of excuse to defend chewing but bottom line, its just plain addictive.

again good luck to the chewers, and yes, if you are in the main land, I think you got to plant a betelnut tree so you could support you habbit.

good luck and see you around.



Justin:   May 31, 2005 11:13 PM

Web Master and Aunchalee, thankyou for the Mr. Sullivan report on betel chewing. I will share it with my friends here in Saipan. I will also let them know of this great site.



Lynn:   June 8, 2005 11:20 AM

Sup!! Charley..guess who this is.. LoL
This betelnut issue is becoming quite serious, but what can I say, but that I am hooked, I don't know how, but that I am, and it is true I have tried to quit more then once but mah' gum hurt like I dunno what,so I pull mah' mom's betelnut bag again and help mah'self.

I'm at the point where I can't function with out it. And thanks to the oriental stores here in the mainland, I can go on mah' daily activities without stressin'.

Truth of the matter is, I started chewin' coz, I grew up around the darn thing. It was cheap 'in mah case then it was FREE', legal and everyone did it. I think this are some reasons why youngster in mah days started chewing.
And now, it is expensive and I'm sorounded by Americans that don't do it, but I do it cause I'm already hooked. It's mah' comfort, when break time comes ppl run to their lunch box, I in the otherhand reach in mah' pocket for mah Elaus.. Truth be told betelnut is more part of Palauans then anyone can imagine. Research or not truth remains Betelnut was their when we came to know about it and it will stay!!

Adang mekerang, kamii komengii ngang tekura kami komesengii buu?! hehe
Sorry Charley n' Cilla mah' Tobian lang is kine of rusty.. gigglez

Aight till nekz time, tekker and God bless!!



charley patris:   June 9, 2005 5:31 PM

I totally agree with you lynn, betelnut are just as adictive as any other vices that anyone may pick up somewhere. Funny thing about is that it become culture, at one time it was illegal to import betelnut, but the resources here could not afford everyones demand, and those everyone were majority of them were lawmakers, them too ran out because the young once were faster to grab all the betelnut than them. eventually all the research and a hearsays about betelnut were slowly fading away. then now, betelnut becomes one of the leading brand aside from cigarrette.

lets not put our guard down, lets chew with precautions!!!! yes, thats right what precaution....

anyway, I was in seatle one time, and I got only four betelnut in my bag, I ran out of lime, so I asked my friend to bring to any store to see If I can get a lime. we went to this vietnams store and a got myself a cup of lime at the same time, my friend told me that there was betelnut on sale. I checked the betelnut and to my surprise, I think the betelnut were cooked, I also noticed some are almost the size of a young coconut.

and you know what, the cashier told me, that people are buying.

I promise to myself that If I plan to come to the states, I got to plan it 10 yrs. ahead. I will first bring the betelnut and plant it, then revisit 10 yrs. after......I think this might support the habbit.

by the way, I dont know who is lynn..If it does take much of your time, would you tell me who are you.

take care and god bless.



Lynn:   June 15, 2005 11:47 AM

Lania, Charley you forgot me already?!LOL..It's me, we were neighbors in Palau. The last I saw you, was hmmm.. in Garapan in your uniform. hehe.
Remember, the two huge mango at icebox, the first one bellow was where I grew up.. gigglez.. do you remember now?! It was the yrs when, cigarettes in Palau was only $1.50 a pack. When Cilla, Grace, me, my sister Sai, Pilom, Mersis and her sister were into jumping ropes. And Jeff, Moti, Marcus, Stanley, Ricky were into homemade tops and Isaac, Jerry, Arno and Jay were into playing fish(marbles).. and you the older ones si' you, Maximo, Erica, Alex, were into dating,it's when Gloria just start dating Inabo and Tina is still riding motorcycle with William,lol..those days...remember mah cuz MelvaAnn.LoL.. enough said!
Till next time take care!!
I put the word in taking mah' time to tell you who I am!!hehe.. I got to go b4 I write a novel.



Anonymous:   June 16, 2005 6:41 AM

even sis Willy and



Anonymous:   June 16, 2005 6:42 AM

even si' Willy and



Arleen:   December 12, 2005 2:45 AM

Nice hear them! who I am?



guamtom:   March 17, 2006 5:21 PM

Emachel is what fused me to my brother, Felix Makilong. A chew over the Ping Pong table is like a chew to carabou. Belicks! Janet ma Ngak rock....Hey,that rhymes.