Arecoline

Background

Arecoline is an alkaloid natural product derived from the betel nut, the fruit of the areca palm (Areca catechu) which is a widely used nut with betel leaf for their stimulant effects in many Asian countries. It is an odorless oily liquid that is soluble in water, alcohols, and ether. It is traditionally consumed by chewing in a similar manner to chewing tobacco leaves. For its muscarinic and nicotinic agonist properties, arecoline has shown improvement in the learning ability of healthy volunteers. [1]
 

Benefits

Arecoline works as a physical stimulant and psychoactive and can help reduce fatigue, improve mood and increase physical performance. The nootropic supplement in Arecoline acts like an enhancer for the level of acetyl-choline in the body which can bring about improved sensitivity, focal point and increase overall cognitive function. When combined with a sensible diet and workout regime, Arecoline may help boost cognitive function and mental focus, and also amplify physical performance all through exercises. Arecoline’s benefits are –

  • Increases overall cognitive function and memory in Alzheimer’s dementia (AD) patients [8]
  • Increases focus [9]
  • Reduces fatigue [10]
  • Improves mood and concentration [11]
  • People report it increases physical performance
  • Helps people who have schizophrenia [12]
  • Helps people who have glaucoma [13]
  • Improves verbal memory [7]

Regular Arecoline chewers can also show an increased energy and motivation to accomplish any given task. In the beginning, researchers saw that taking a solution containing Arecoline or betel nut extract might improve speech, strength, and bladder function in people who have already had a stroke. People also use it for fighting a mental disorder called schizophrenia and an eye disorder called glaucoma; as a mild stimulant; and as a digestive aid.[2]

How it works

The betel nut is chewed to obtain a stimulating effect in many Asian cultures. Arecoline is the main active component responsible for the central nervous system effects that are almost comparable to those of nicotine, which has a similar chemical structure. Arecoline is known to be an agonist of muscarinic acetylcholine M1, M2 and M3 receptors,[3][4][5] which is believed to be the primary cause of its parasympathetic effects (such as pupillary constriction, bronchial constriction, etc).
For its muscarinic and nicotinic agonist properties, Arecoline has shown improvement in the learning ability of healthy volunteers. Since one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease is a cognitive decline, arecoline was suggested as a treatment to slow down this process and Arecoline administered via I.V. route did indeed show modest verbal and spatial memory improvement in Alzheimer’s patients, though because of Arecoline’s possible carcinogenic properties, it is not the first drug of choice for this degenerative disease.[6]

Considerations

Even though this happens to be a natural plant extract, because of it’s quite consequential side effects, it is not considered a nootropic. Arecoline is considered to be unsafe when taken by mouth long-term or in high doses because some of the chemicals in betel nut have been associated with cancer and other chemicals are poisonous.[14] The common side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, gum problems, increased saliva, chest pain, abnormal heart beats, low blood pressure, shortness of breath and rapid breathing, heart attack, coma, and death. So awareness is very important while consuming Arecoline.

Recommendations

Keep in mind that because of the harsh side effects of Arecoline, it is recommended to look for energy and mental stimulation in other supplements first. If one is to try eating beetlenut or consuming a product containing arecoline, users would typically take their first dose in the morning or 15 – 30 minutes before exercise. Pre-workout supplements containing Arecoline should be taken with water before exercise. A relatively safe and effective dose for most people is 2 – 4 milligrams per serving.

Sources

 

  1. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/arecoline#section=Top
  2. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-995-betel%20nut.aspx?activeingredientid=995&activeingredientname=betel%20nut
  3. Ghelardini C, Galeotti N, Lelli C, Bartolini A. (2001). “Arecoline M1 receptor activation is a requirement for arecoline analgesia.”. Farmaco. 56 (5–7): 383–5. PMID 11482763.
  4. Yang YR, Chang KC, Chen CL, Chiu TH. (2000). “Arecoline excites rat locus coeruleus neurons by activating the M2-muscarinic receptor.”. Chin J Physiol. 43 (1): 23–8. PMID 10857465
  5. Xie DP, Chen LB, Liu CY, Zhang CL, Liu KJ, Wang PS. (2004). “Arecoline excites the colonic smooth muscle motility via M3 receptor in rabbits.”. Chin J Physiol. 47 (2): 89–94. PMID 15481791
  6. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/arecoline#section=Top
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1775605
  8. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/13880209.2016.1160251
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166120/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3143027/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1482804/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4357051/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11858612
  14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10408909