Botanical Name(s): Acorus Calamus
Species: A. calamus
Popular Name(s): Sweet flag, Sweet Root, Bach
Parts Used: Dried Rhizome
Habitat: North Temperate and subtropical regions up to 2200m altitudes in Himalayas
Calamus is found all over the world. It is a semi-aquatic perennial, which is cultivated in damp marshy places in India and Burma. The plant is big in size, with leaves in the shape of sword and yellow-green in color. Calamus is quite common in Manipur and the Naga Hills of India and is found on the edges of lakes and streams. The root of the plant has anodyne, aphrodisiac, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, hallucinogenic, hypotensive, sedative, stimulant, stomachic, mildly tonic and vermifuge properties.
Uses & Benefits of Calamus
- Calamus is a greatly valued herb in Ayurveda, as its stimulating aroma rejuvenates the brain and the nervous system. It is also effective against digestive disorders.
- The root of the plant is internally used to treat bronchitis, sinusitis etc. It has the wonderful power of stimulating and normalizing the appetite. In small doses, it also serves to reduce stomach acidity. Larger doses increase stomach secretions.
- The plant is externally used to treat skin eruptions, rheumatic pains and neuralgia.
- It is also believed to remedy arthritis, cancer, convulsions, diarrhoea, dyspepsia, epilepsy etc.
- Chewing the root of calamus helps fight tobacco addiction. It kills the taste for tobacco over time.
- The root is also used to make a type of tea. Warm calamus tea works to soothe sore throat, when drunk warm or gargled with.
- A homeopathic remedy is made from the roots of the plant, which is used to treat flatulence, dyspepsia, anorexia and disorders of the gall bladder.
- It serves as a nauseant, stomachic, anthelmentic, stimulants, emetic, expectorant, carminative, antispasmodic and nervine sedative.
- Due to its aroma, calamus is also used to make essential oil. The calamus essential oil is much valued in the perfume industry.
- The herb was added to wine in Europe. The root of the plant is also one of the possible ingredients of absinthe.
- The northern Native Americans use the herb for medical purposes as well as a stimulant. The root is believed to be used as entheogen among them. However, higher doses can be hallucinogenic.
- Steaming the root of calamus throughout the home is believed by many to cure certain types of sickness.
- Teton-Dakota warriors used to chew the roots of this herb to make a paste, which they rubbed on their faces. They believed it would prevent excitement and fear, while facing an enemy.
- Large doses of the distilled essential oil made from calamus can cause mild hallucinations.