How to Chew Betel Nuts

Sumba Island, Indonesia 1996

Sumba Island is one of those rare places where they practice megalithic (monolithic) burials. Prominent villagers are buried under huge rocks in the middle of the village to blur the line between life and death.

We needed permission from the village chief to visit Sumba, so our guide took us shopping for gifts. Cigarettes and betel nuts were the chief’s favorites. I noticed small bloody puddles of what looked like broken teeth and gums on the sidewalks. It turned out that one use for Betel Nut is to stimulate the flow of saliva to aid digestion.

Betel nuts have been around since the 1st century A.D. and are used like caffeine for alertness, increased stamina and euphoria. Medicinal uses include to expel phlegm, kill worms, for purification, and as an aphrodisiac. David gets a lesson on how to chew Betel Nut in this video.

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