Bunga

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ARECA CATECHU also known as BUNGA

Bunga is often cultivated throughout settled areas of the Philippines, in some places being spontaneous. Possibly it is a native of the Philippines, having been found once, spontaneous, in primary forests in Palawan. It also occurs in the Old World Tropics generally, and has been introduced into the New World.

The trunk is erect, and solitary, up to 25 meters high, and marked with annular scars. The leaves are up to 4 meters long, with numerous leaflets, 60 to 90 centimeters long, with the upper ones confluent. The spadix is much branched and compressed, with the branches filiform above, bearing very numerous, somewhat distichous male flowers, which are yellow, and about 5 millimeters long. The female flowers are at the bases of the branches and in axils, about 1 centimeters long or more. The fruit is ovoid, smooth, orange or red (when ripe), 4 to 6 centimeters long; with the pericarp somewhat fleshy, and the mesocarp fibrous.

In the Philippines, as well as in indo-Malayan and Polynesian regions, the Areca nut is extensively used for chewing with lime and the leaves of betel piper (Piper betle Linn.), which is locally known as ikmo. In the Philippines the buyo is generally regarded as a tonic and a general stimulant, but its excessive use is certainly harmful. The fruit in decoction is considered an abortifacient and the nut as an emmenagogue. Tavera reports that excessive use of buyo causes loss of appetite, salivation, and general degeneration of the organism. According to Guerrero the tender seeds are said to be purgative and the ripened ones grated are vermifuge. They are also used externally as an astringent.

Nadkarni reports that the fresh nut is somewhat intoxicating and produces giddiness in some persons. This was noted by Garcia da Orta as early as 1563 in Malacca. The dried nut is stimulant, astringent, and taenifuge. It increases the flow of saliva; sweetens the breath, strengthens the gum, and produces mild exhilaration. Chopra adds that the arecoline is a highly toxic substance, and that its pharmacological action resembles that of muscarine, pelletierine, and pilocarpine. It violently stimulates the peristaltic movements of the intestines and produces a marked constriction of the bronchial muscles, which can, however, be overcome by adrenaline or atropine. The terminations of the vagi in the heart are stimulated and the organ is depressed; the blood pressure falls. It is a powerful sialogogue and stimulates the secretion of sweat in the same way as pilocarpine.

As a masticatory, dentifrice, and vermifuge, Gimlette states that the betel nut appeared in the Materia Medica of ancient China. It is also thus used in Indo-Chine according to Bocquillon-Limousin and in the Punjab and Cashmere by Honigberger. Nadkarni reports that the kernel of the fruit is one of the constituents of that general masticatory of the East-the betel or the pan. The young nut is useful in bowel complaints. The tincture forms an astringent gargle, when freely diluted with water, which is useful for bleeding gums, and it may be used as an injection for stopping water discharges from the vagina; it is also useful in checking the pyrosis of pregnancy of pregnancy.

Gimlette also reports that women in Malaya use the young green shoots as an abortifacient in early pregnancy. Large doses of areca nut cause vomiting and diarrhea. In the Dutch East Indies the root (shredded, steeped in water, and pounded till the juice is extracted) is used as poison put into food or drink.

Stuart records that in China the bark is used for choleraic affections, and for flatulent, dropsical, and obstructive disease diseases of the digestive tract. According to Dr. Warning chronic ulcerations, attended by much or foetid discharge, often speedily improve under the use of an ointment composed of finely powdered catechu and lard. MacMillan also reports its use externally for ulcers.

The ubod, or cabbage, is edible, and is either eaten raw as a salad or cooked.

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