Puga – Areca catechu

Puga Areca catechu is a medicinal plant originally from Cochin. It is widely found in china and Malaya. Its name Areca is a translation from Malayalam word. It was referred to many of Indian ancient books, mythologies and classics. It was considered as sacred nut offered while welcoming an honoured guest. Sushruta told it is a nut which cures diseases of Kapha, cleans mouth and rectifies disorder of Pitta. In excess, it affects throat and voice. In India, it is commonly known by the name- Supari. It is told as the crown of leaves as it looks like an arrow stuck in the ground.

  • Botanical Name of Puga is Areca Catechu.
  • Family Name of Puga is Palmae.


Puga Areca catechu may be classified as follows –

According to processing –

  1. Safed Supari (white areca nut)- Prepared by harvesting fully ripe areca nut and by sun drying for 40-50 days. After drying the nut, the shell of the nut has to be removed by hand machine and called as Supari.
  2. Lal Supari (red areca nut) – Prepared by harvesting tender green areca nut and peeling the husk, boiled in water and dried and known as Chikni Supari (smooth nut).

According to the place where it is grown –

  1. Shreevardhan – Grown in the coastal Maharastra state of India.
  2. Mangala –  Grown in Dakshina Kannada.
  3. Sumangala – Selection from Indonesia.
  4. Shree Mangala – Selection from Singapore.
  5. Mettupalayam – Grown in Coimbatore district of Tamilnadu.
  6. Mohitnagar – Largely grown in the north eastern region like west Bengal.
  7. Kahikuchi – Grown in northeastern regions like Assam, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura.

Other varieties of Puga Areca catechu available in Indian market –

  1. Mora
  2. Moti
  3. Vachras
  4. Jamnagar
  5. Jini
  6. Lindi

Synonyms of Puga Areca catechu 

In Ayurveda, many synonyms of Puga Areca catechu has been described in Sanskrit. Few of them are listed below –

  • Guvaka
  • Khapura
  • Kramuka
  • Puga
  • Tanthusara
  • Pugi
  • Valkatharu
  • Rajathala
  • Drida Valka
  • Udvega
  • Thailvana
  • Akoda
  • Gholya
  • Chataphala
  • Ghoranta
  • Chikkni
  • Chikka
  • Dhirghapadapa
  • Chikkanam
  • Dridavalkala
  • Khubaka
  • Ghonta
  • Kashaya Phala
  • Ghopadala
  • Pushpaka
  • Kappithana
  • Thramu
  • Karamatta
  • Thramuki
  • Suranjana
  • Seri
  • Tamboola
  • Khebuka

Classical Categorization

In Ayurvedic classics, plants have been categorised under Varga and Gana. Likewise, Puga Areca catechu comes under –

  1. According to Bhava Prakash – Amra Phalaadi Varga
  2. According to Raja Nighantu – Amraadi Varga
  3. According to Madanapala Nighantu – Phalaadi Varga
  4. According to Priya Nighantu – Haritakyadi Varga

Vernacular Names

Puga Areca catechu is known by different names in different languages.

  • Arabic – Fofal, Feefal
  • Assam – Tambul
  • Bengal – Gua, Supari
  • Burma – Kun, Kunsi
  • Chinese – Ping Lang
  • Dutch – Areca palm Boom, Pinang
  • English – Arecanut Palm, Betel Palm, Catechu Palm, Fausel nut Palm, Medicinal Cabbage Tree, Indian Nut Tree, Pinang Palm, Supari Palm
  • French – Arec, Arec Betel, Arec Cachou
  • German – Areca Palm
  • Gujarati – Hopari, Phophal,Sopari
  • Hindi – Supari, Suppari, Supyari, Supadi
  • Italian – Areca
  • Konkani – Feefal, Maddi, Supari
  • Malayalam – Atekka, Chempalukka, Pakka, Phugam, Kramukam, Ghonta, Kamuka, Kavunnu
  • Marathi – Pophali, Pung, Supari
  • Portuguese – Areca
  • Russian – Areka, Kapustnaya Palma
  • Tamil – Kamugee, Kandi, Kiramugam, Kugagam, Pakku, Pugam
  • Telugu – Chikinamu, Chikini, Kolapoka, Kramukamu, Poka, Prakka, Pugamu
  • Urdu – Supari, Feefal, Choalia

Systemic Classification

  • Kingdom – Plantae
  • Sub-Kingdom – Phanerogamae
  • Division – Angiospermae
  • Class – Monoctyledonae
  • Series – Calycineae
  • Order – Princeps( Palmales)
  • Family – Palmae
  • Genus – Areca
  • Species – Catechu

Ayurvedic Properties

In Ayurveda, properties of every plants / drug is described by Rasa, Guna, Veerya, Vipaka and doshaghnata. Ayurvedic properties of Puga Areca catechu are as follows –

  • Rasa – Kashaya, Madhura
  • Guna – Guru, Ruksha
  • Veerya – Sheeta
  • Vipaka – Katu
  • Doshaghnata – Kapha Pitta Shamaka

Useful Parts

Following parts of Puga Areca catechu are used as medicine –

  • Beeja (Seed)
  • Tvaka (Bark)
  • Moola (Roots)

Vishitha Yoga (Pharmaceutical Preparations)

Many Ayurvedic medicines are prepared from Puga Areca catechu. A few are listed below –

  • Puga Khanda
  • Supari Paka
  • Khadira – Kramuka Yoga


Puga Areca catechu is indicated in following diseases –

  • Shweta pradara (leucorrhea)
  • Vata vyadhi (neuro, muscular and skeletal problem)
  • Kati shoola (low back pain)
  • Aruchi (loss of appetite)
  • Atisara (dysentery)
  • Pravahika (diarrhea)
  • Krimi roga (worm infestation)
  • Rakta pitta (bleeding conditions)
  • Shukra meha (sementorrhea)
  • Bhahumutra (polyuria)
  • Vrana (wound)
  • Mukha paka (mouth ulcer)
  • Gala roga (diseases of throat)
  • Upadansha (syphilis)
  • Rakta atisara (dysentery with rectal bleeding)
  • Sootika vikara (peurperal problems)
  • Danta puya (suppurative gums)
  • Grahani (IBS and related conditions)
  • Masoorika (small pox)

Therapeutic Uses

  • Uttara Basti (therapeutic enema) is administered in case of Leucorrhea.
  • A dusting of powder is suggested for wounds and ulcers.
  • The gargle of decoction of puga phala (areca nut) is taken in diseases of the mouth, particularly stomatitis and throat infections.
  • The oil prepared with puga is applied in a backache, waist pain and other Vata vyadhi.
  • The powder of nut, mixed with lime juice / milk is good for anorexia, diarrhoea, dysentery and worms.
  • The seed of areca mixed with lime, black catechu and leaves of betel are useful in the decay of teeth.
  • Powder of dried nuts in 10 -15 grains along with equal part of sugar is used in diarrhoea.
  • 1/4th tola (1 tola = 12 gm) powder rubbed into a paste with 2 tola of fresh lemon juice makes an excellent vermifuge.
  • About a teaspoonful is administered after the patient has fasted for 12-14 hrs either up to a bolus with a ghee / floating on milk is useful for the expulsion of tapeworm.
  • Tincture form of areca nut is used as an astringent gargle when freely diluted with water i.e. 1 drachm of powder with 4 ounces of water in bleeding gums. It is also used as an injection for stopping watery discharge from the vagina and in checking pyrosis of pregnancy.
  • Nut burnt to charcoal and quarter part of cinnamon forms a good herbal tooth powder.
  • Juice of tender leaves mixed with til oil is applied as an embrocation in cases of lumbago.
  • A decoction of the root is a repeated cure for sore lips.
  • In Rakta pitta (bleeding disorders), supari churna with Chandana churna in equal quantity should be taken with Tandulodaka (rice water) and Madhu (honey).
  • In Vata vyadhi, shallaki along with supari kwatha mixed with til oil and is given to drink.
  • In Upadansha (syphilis), lepana (external application) of Puga paste is applied.
  • Avachurnam (external application of powder) of areca nut used in Vrana (wound).
  • In Dysuria, water boiled with areca nut is used.
  • In a cough, betel nut is chewed along with leaves of betel climber.
  • 1 gm powder of areca nut along with 1 cup lukewarm milk is advised in case of lack of sexual pleasure.
  • Boiling 4 gm of areca nut in 4 cups of water and then it is reduced to 1 cup; 2 parts of it are taken daily twice in bloody dysentery and indigestion.

Toxicity of Puga Areca catechu

4-nitroso compounds, N-nirtosoguvacoline, N-nitrosoguvacaine, 3(N- nitrosomethylamine) propionaldehyde and 3-(N-nitroso methylamine) propionitrile isolated from an aqueous extract of betel nuts have been found cytotoxic and genotoxic to human buccal epithelial cells and also produce pancreatic, lung, nasal and liver tumour in rats.

Shodhana (Purification) of Puga Areca catechu

  • Dipping supari in hot water
  • Frying in bhalu mitti
  • Boiling in milk


Puga Areca catechu may be used in the following dosage –

Kwatha (decoction) – 50 to 100 ml

Seed powder – 1 to 3 gm

Substitute and Adulterants

Nuts from other plants like Areca caliso, Areca nagensis are used as substitutes for areca nut (puga/ supari). Sago palm nuts dried tapioca and slices of sweet potato from chief adulterants that are mixed with slices of areca nut. Also nuts of Caryota urens cut to various shapes and sizes resembling genuine areca nut are coated and concentrated and used as adulterants for areca nut.

Photographs of Puga Areca catechu

(Please click on image to zoom)

Puga Areca catechu 6


Puga Areca catechu 7


Puga Areca catechu 8

(3) image- theferns.info

Puga Areca catechu 1

(4) image- specialtyproduce.com

Puga Areca catechu 3

(5) image- indianaturewatch.net

Puga Areca catechu 4

(6) image- ioffer.com

Puga Areca catechu 5

(7) image- allpointseast.com

Puga Areca catechu

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