betel bē´təl [key], masticatory made from slices of betel palm seeds (called betel nuts) smeared onto a betel pepper leaf together with other aromatic flavorings and lime paste and rolled up. The betel palm (Areca catechu) and the betel pepper (Piper betle of the pepper family) are native to and widely cultivated in S Asia, where betel has been chewed since ancient times and is an article of considerable commerce. Betel contains alkaloids that increase the heart rate and induce a sense of euphoria. Habitual chewing stains the teeth and is linked to oral cancer.
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