Betel (Piper betle) is a tropical shade-loving perennial evergreen vine. It is best known as a component of "betel nut" or "betel quid". Betel quid is actually slices of "areca nut", the seed of the Areca catechu palm, wrapped in betel leaf, often with other components such as slaked lime (calcium hydroxide paste) and tobacco or spices for flavoring. .
Betel quid is addictive and is reportedly consumed daily by as many as 600 million people globally across the Indian subcontinent and through China, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific -immigrants to other parts of the world often continue to chew betel quid in their adopted countries. Among different populations, users may be demographically quite different, e.g., largely women in Cambodia, but mainly men among aboriginal Taiwanese.
Although chewing betel quid is encouraged by some traditional medicine practitioners, there is much scientific evidence of diverse and substantial harm to the user's health resulting from this practice. As they have become clearerm the large-scale health impacts have caused much concern among public health experts, including those at the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.