Herbs & Botanicals
Areca Peel (Da Fu Pi)
What is areca peel? What is it used for?
Also known as betel nut or pinang, areca peel refers to the dried pericarp, or husk, that forms around a betel nut (areca catechu). Unripe betel nuts are usually collected in the winter and spring, boiled, dried and cut longitudally. After being dried, the pericarp is peeled from the nut and used in herbal preparations. The betel nut (da fu mao) is also used medicinally.
Areca peel is associated with several meridians, including the Large Intestine, Small Intestine, Spleen and Stomach meridians. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is used to promote the downward flow of qi, reduce food stagnation, ease the stomach, and subdue swelling. Compounds in the peel stimulate the central nervous system and the salivary, bronchial and intestinal glands. In humans, it has been indicated to treat a distended abdomen, edema, constipation and difficult urination. It is also widely used in Asia as a form of veterinary medicine, and can kill tapeworms in cattle, dogs and horses.
How much areca peel should I take?
The generally recommended dose of areca peel is 6-9 grams per day, usually taken with water as a decoction.
What forms of areca peel are available?
Dried areca peel can be found at some Asian markets and specialty stores. It is also available as a powder or decoction. In addition to the peel, some stores also sell extracts of betel nut.
What can happen if I take too much areca peel? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?
People who are allergic to betel nuts should not take areca peel in any form. Those who are allergic to betel nuts or who take large doses of areca peel decoction may suffer an allergic reaction, which usually manifests as severe abdominal pain, diarrhea and fever. It should be used with extreme caution by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking areca peel or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.
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- Huang B, Wang Y. Thousand Formulas and Thousand Herbs of Traditional Chinese Medicine, vol. 2. Harbin: Heilongjiang Education Press, 1993.
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- Wei BH. TCM Research and Clinical Application on Studies of Spleen and Stomach. Beijing Publishing Co., 1994.