Other Names of Calamus:

  • Bacc
  • Flagroot
  • Sweet Cane
  • Sweet Grass
  • Sweet Flag
  • Sweet Sedge
  • Myrtle Grass
  • Sweet Rush
  • Sweet Myrtle
  • Sweet Root
  • Myrtle Sedge
  • Rat Root
  • Cinnamon Sedge
  • Muskrat Root
  • Sweet Calomel
  • Pine Root
  • Gladdon
  • Flagroot
  • Beewort

Useful Parts of the Plant: Dried rhizome

Acorus calamus or sweet flag calamus as it is also known as is a perennial herb belonging to the Acoraceae family. The rhizome of the plant is used for its medicinal purposes and as an ingredient in perfumes due to its strong scent

Acorus calamus is found all over Europe, Russia, China, Japan, Australia, India, the Middle East, and North America. Used since biblical time, children and adults suffering from colic or indigestion were offered calamus for quick relief.

People who wanted to stop smoking once used the calamus root as chewing on pieces of the root reduced the craving for tobacco. American Indians discovered the benefits of calamus and used it to treat aches of all kinds - from toothaches to stomach aches. Today, calamus is also used as a cooking spice.

Nutritional information and Properties of Calamus

The acorus calamus root is low in fat, carbohydrates, sugar, and fiber. It has high water content and is rich in potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. It also contains essential fatty acids such as palmitic, myristic, stearic, palmitoleic, arachicic, oleic and linoleic acids.

The roots of the plant are rich in antioxidants resulting in several health and medical benefits.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses of Calamus

Benefits of calamus include:

  • The aroma and stimulating properties of the calamus root has been used to treat digestive problems down the ages. It improves the functioning of the stomach and reduces problems such as cramps, dyspepsia, flatulence and indigestion.
  • The expectorant properties of calamus help loosen phlegm and make it an ideal treatment for bronchitis, sinusitis and other respiratory conditions.
  • Calamus also stimulates the uterus leading to regular menstrual cycles.
  • Calamus improves the recovery process of the brain and nervous system especially after a stroke.
  • When applied on the skin, calamus can provide relief for skin problems such as burns, rashes, varicose veins, boils, and rheumatic pain.
  • The effects of a few drops of calamus oil in a warm bath can help reduce fatigue and exhaustion

Other Uses of Calamus

  • The exchange and trade of the calamus herb has been carried out since ancient times. Apart from the medical uses of acorus calamus, its oil is also used in the production of perfumes.
  • Medieval houses used the calamus plant to cover the floors and provide a sweet smell to thatches roofs.
  • Calamus is also believed to be an aphrodisiac due to its stimulant properties.
  • Calamus root is an ingredient in the making of absinthe liquor, bitter and as a flavoring for pipe tobacco.

Precautions/Side Effects/ Warnings of Calamus

  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it would be best to avoid calamus, in any form as it stimulates the uterus.
  • Overuse of this herb can lead to vomiting, rashes, nausea and other medical complications.
  • Avoid calamus if you suffer from any type of liver or kidney damage.
  • The FDA had deemed calamus as unsafe for consumption in 1968. Today, calamus should be used only under the recommendation and supervision of a qualified doctor.
  • Calamus essential oil contains the compound asorone. Asorone has toxic and narcotic side effects and is also believed to be a carcinogenic.
  • Too much calamus taken internally can lead to hallucinations or seizures. Prolonged use may increase the chance of developing tumors and certain types of cancers.