I Try Gutka – An Indian Tobacco That Basically Blows Up Your Mouth | Poison Boy Adventures
My friend Bhavi told me about Gutka – a type of tobacco product sold in India and other places in Asia. It’s a smokeless tobacco that you put between you cheek and gum and it provides the user with a brief, pleasant kind of high, like most nicotine. It’s also highly addictive and causing all kinds of problems in India and other parts of Asia. India has the highest rate of oral cancers in the world, among men and women, mostly due to smokeless tobacco like gutka (it’s also called paan masala).
It’s not just a problem in India – a 2015 study from NYU described widespread use of paan and gutka among Bangladeshi and Indian-Gujarati immigrants, as high as 77%! The native product is paan, which is a mixture of tobacco, areca nut, slaked lime, and spices. Gutka is a commercially powdered mixture containing the same ingredients as paan and has been around for about 3 decades. The idea is that the user puts a fairly large amount of the pebbly, sandy substance inside the cheek, adjacent to the gum and allows the nicotine to be absorbed. The problems arise because the nicotine and areca nut extract causes oral cancer with prolonged use. It also causes constriction of the blood vessels of the mouth, so the user gets breakdown of the mucous membranes, leading to ulcers and bleeding.nihms15035
People that utilize gutka spit out saliva and tobacco juice. Regular users of gutka, because their mouths are rotting from the inside, spit blood. Here is a picture of the corner of a restaurant where gutka is consumed and bloody saliva is spit into a corner – it’s really disgusting, so if you have a delicate stomach, I’d hit the scroll button as fast as you can. It’s gotten so bad that some restauranteurs have taken to painting huge images of gods on the walls to deter people from spitting on them, not that it did much good for the place on the left.
I mean – look at this!
This is ridiculous!
Paan and gutka are legal and easily available in South Asian neighborhoods in New York City, at approximately two sachets for $1 and at about one paan for $1. The exact extent of paan and gutka use in the U.S. is unknown. Some of the results of the NYU study are fascinating as to why immigrants use this stuff. “The beneficial health effects of paan were cited as “relieves constipation,” “improves stamina,” “fights cold,” relieving tension, and for mood improvement. The harmful health effects of paan were cited as causing cancer, dental problems, ulcers, addiction, and hypertension. The beneficial health effects of gutka were cited as “tension reliever,” “helps bowel movements,” “mood improvement,” and “increasing stamina.” The harmful health effects of gutka were cited as: causing dental problems, “chest pain or burning,” hypertension, “tissue in mouth becomes white,” “cannot open the mouth,” and addiction.” Belief of beneficial or detrimental effect was quite different between the two ethnic groups surveyed.
The interesting, essential element in these products, aside from the nicotine, has got to be the areca nut, which is the fruit of the areca palm (Areca catechu) plant. The nut is often incorrectly called the betel nut and is confused with because it is wrapped in leaves of the betel plant (Piper betle). It’s actually not even a nut, but a fruit. When the flesh of the fruit is unripe and green, the nut can be easily cut with a knife – it get very hard when the fruit is ripe. People have chewed areca nuts for centuries – it is a mild stimulant and gives the chewer a warm sensation and increased alertness (supposedly).
So the information from my friend Bhavi intrigued me and I decided I had to try gutka for myself:
I didn’t feel a darn thing, just hard things that felt like little rocks in my mouth and that I found myself spitting out half the day. No warmth, no increased alertness. Nothing.
Think I’ll stick to cigars.
Here is the video: