Calamus, Vacha, Bach
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
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),
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
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
In the form of infusion it is tonic, stomachic or carminative, also
The volatile oil
aromatic and antiseptic.
The rhizome has an expectorant action, due to the presence of the
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 nad 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
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.
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.
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