BACKGROUND: Epidemiological evidence of co-use of alcohol and areca nuts suggests a potential central interaction between arecoline, a major alkaloid of areca and a muscarinic receptor agonist, and ethanol. Moreover, the central cholinergic system plays an important role in the depressant action of ethanol and barbiturates. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of arecoline on pentobarbital- and ethanol-induced hypnosis in mice.
Areca cattechu Linn is commonly known as areca nut or betel nut. It is a very widely cultivated plant in eastern countries like India, Bangladesh, Ceylon, Malaya, the Philippines and Japan. The importance of this nut is due to its use for chewing purposes. It had an important place as a pharmaceutical in Ayurveda--the ancient Indian system of medicine--also in the Chinese medicinal practices. The pharmaceutical importance of areca nut is due to the presence of an alkaloid, arecoline. Synthetic arecoline hydrobromide is also shown to possess numerous pharmacological properties.