Biological Name: Acorus calamus
Other Names: Calamus, Vacha, Bach, Agri-turki, Baje, Sweet Flag
Calamus is found all over the world. It is a semi-aquatic perennial cultivated in damp marshy places in India and Burma. Exceedingly common in Manipur and the Naga Hills of India, and on the edges of lakes and streams.
Flower and Fruit: Green flowers, like small dice, form a tightly packed, slim, conical spadix. The plant does not produce any fruit. It propagates from the rhizome.
Leaves, Stem and Root: The plant grows from 60 to 100 cm tall. The stem is triangular and sprouts from a horizontal, round root-stock, which has the thickness of a thumb. The upper shoot forms a grooved flower sheath. The leaves are oblong, sword-shaped and arranged in two rows. The leaves have no stems.
Characteristics: The rhizome has an intensely aromatic fragrance and a tangy, pungent and bitter taste. The leaves often undulate on the margins.
- acorin – a volatile essential oil. It is a honey-like liquid, very bitter and aromatic, soluble in alcohol, chloroform, ether, splitting into sugar and volatile oil.
- acoretin (choline) – a bitter principle. It is a resin-like body.
- Calamine ( useful in dysentery). It is a crystalline alkaloid soluble in alcohol and chloroform.
- a little of tannin.
The dried rhizome yields 1.5 per cent to 2.7 per cent of a neutral, yellow, aromatic, essential oil. The fresh aerial parts yield about 0.123 per cent of the volatile oil. The unpeeled roots yield the most – from 1.5 to 3.5 per cent.
The essential volatile oil of Acorus Calamus is yellowish-brown, and is found to be composed of asaryl aldehyde, free normal heptylic and palmitic acid, eugenol, esters of acetic and palmitic acids, pinene, camphene, sesqui-terpene, calamene, and a small quantity of phenol, Eugenol, Methyl Eugenol, Cilamenenol and Calameone.
The chief constituents are heavily dependent upon the chemical strain (di-, tri-, tetraploid); beta-asarone (cis-isoasarone), alpha- and gamma-asarone, beta- gurjuns, acorone (bitter), ZZ-Deca-4,7-dienal (odor-determining)
Parts Used: Dried rhizome
Calamus is an aromatic, bitter stomachic, which stimulates appetite and digestion and is a stomach tonic. It has spasmolytic, carminative and sedative effects, in addition to being externally hyperemic.
Root and rhizome:
stimulant, emetic, nauseant, stomachic, aromatic, expectorant, carminative, antispasmodic and nervine sedative.
In large doses (30 to 40 grains) it produces a violent and persistent emesis.
In the form of infusion it is tonic, stomachic or carminative, also anti-periodic.
The rhizome has an expectorant action, due to the presence of the essential oil.
Action and Uses in Ayurveda and Siddha
Katu rasam. tiktanursam, ushna-veeryam, vata-haram. emetic. Improves agni, clears urine and stools.
Action and Uses in Unani
Cleans brain, aphrodisiac, strength to sight, expels reeh, expels balgam, antipoison, paralysis, dropsy and nervous complaints, digestive, cold, coughs.
Action and Uses in Herbal Medicine
This herb is used in the form of teas for dyspeptic disorders, gastritis, and ulcers. It is used externally for rheumatism, gum disease, and angina.
loss of appetite
Swami Thirtha calls this herb as “one of the best mind herbs.” It removes the toxic effects of marijuana from the liver and brain.
Asthma: Give small doses of 10 grains of this herb. Repeated every two or three hours till relief is obtained.
For headaches and arthritic joint pain: Apply paste of the herb to head.
For flatulant colic: Mix the root burnt to cinder, with cocoanut or castor oil. Smear this paste over the abdomen.
For infantile diarrhea and colic: Use the powder of the burnt root-stock in 3 grain doses.
This herb is a very old remedy for chronic diarrhea and forms part of a number of remedies used in Ayurveda.
Decoction, milk decoction, powder, paste
To Make Tea: Steep with hot water.
For use in a bath, add 250 to 500 gm of the drug to the bath water.
CAUTION: DO NOT USE With bleeding disorders (e.g., nosebleeds, hemorrhoids). Excess use may cause nausea, vomiting, rashes, etc.
No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages of European origin (triploid strain, up to 15% beta- asarone in volatile oil). Long-term use of this herb should be avoided. Malignant tumors appeared in rats that received Indian Kalmus oils over an extended period (tetraploid strain, over 80% 13-asarone in volatile oil).
No other information about the safety of this herb is available. Use caution. Ayurvedic herbs are often taken in combination with others to neutralize the toxicity one herb with the opposing effect of other. Do not take except under the supervision of a qualified professional.