Sweet Flag Plant
Sweet Flag as Medicinal Herb
Sweet Flag History
Sweet Flag Side Effects
Acorus calamus or
Sweet Flag is a perennial herb that has wonderful medicinal
values. Sweet flag, or calamus has been used since ancient times for its effects
on the digestive system and the lungs. This herb eliminates phlegm and
tranquilizes the mind, and has been used to treat amnesia, heart palpitations, insomnia, tinnitus, chronic bronchitis, and bronchial asthma.
In Ayurvedic Medicine sweet flag called Vacha promotes circulation to the brain, sharpens
memory, and enhances awareness. In tradional chinese medicine sweet flag is used to treat
deafness, dizziness and epilepsy. The Chinese use it for vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and dysentery.
Acorus calamus (Sweet Flag) plant
Hindi - Bach, Gorbach
English - Sweet Flag
Latin - Acorus calamus
Sanskrit - Vacha, Ugragandha
Tamil - Vasampu
Kannada - Baji
Telgu - Vasa
Marathi - Vekhanda
Gujarati : Gorabach
Sweet Flag Plant:
Flag has a branched and aromatic root or rhizome (underground horizontal stem of a plant that produces roots) from which rise its long
erect leaves. The roots have a sweet fragrance and the leaves smell similar to lemon.
The plant have sword-like leaves. In late spring, green flowers appear in 2 to 4 long spadices (plural
form of spadix) below the leaf tips. The flowers eventually give way to small berries.
The sheathing leaves of this perennial are from 2 to 6 feet in height
and about 1 inch in width. They are sharp pointed and have a ridged midrib running their entire length.
The leaves of Acorus calamus are fragrant, the smell can be a means of
recognizing it. The odor is aromatic and agreeable, and taste pungent
and bitter. Internally the rootstock is whitish and of a spongy texture.
The rhizome is pale pink internally and contains an essential oil
responsible for its medicinal value. Major constituents of the essential
oil are phenylpropanes, monoterpenes and thermolabile sesquiterpenoids.
sweet Flag roots
Calamus root contains a volatile oil called asarone, including alpha, beta and gamma types. Other chief constituents
found in the rhizome include ZZ-Deca-4, 7-dienal and acorone, the agents responsible for the herbís fragrance and bitter taste,
respectively, Additional active chemicals found in the essential oil are
methyl isoeugenol and cyclohexanone .
Acorus calamus seed should be planted during the fall or winter.
In a greenhouse or field dig a 2-3 inch deep soil, fill with an organic soil
mix and scatter seed sparsely on the surface and press firmly into the soil.Keep the soil from moist to saturated. Seed does not
require stratification and germinates in less than 2 weeks. When plants reach 3 to 4 inches, transplant them into individual
4-inch pots. Pots can be maintain very moist to saturated conditions. Transplant outdoors 1 foot apart in the spring. With adequate moisture
seed can also be planted outdoors spring through early summer or in a cold frame late summer through fall. Keep soil very moist to
saturated as sweet flag does not tolerate droughty conditions. Sweet Flag proper sun light.
Initially fertilizers may be used indoors to improve early growth but
unnecessary once transplanted outdoors into a rich soil. The spadix will turn brown as the seed ripens in late summer or early
fall. Collect rhizomes when large and firm, generally after 2 to 3 years of growth, before becoming hollow.
The flowering head produced from the side of the stalk, consists of a fleshy spike sometimes three and half inches long and about 1/2 inch in
thickness, covered with very small, greenish yellow flowers.
Sweet Flag as Medicinal Herb
Calamus is an important herb in Ayurvedic medicine used
as a rejuvenator for the brain and nervous system, and as a remedy for
digestive disorders. In Western herbal medicine the herb is chiefly employed for digestive problems such as gas, bloating, colic, and poor
digestive function. It is used as a medicines in:
Stomach disorders : Sweet flag gives immediate relief in stomach problems. It clears a
distended and uncomfortable stomach and also relieves headache associated with weak digestion.
It has been found useful in treating anorexia, gastritis and gastric ulcers.
Dysentery and diarrhea: Sweet Flag contains ingredient for chronic diarrhea and dysentery.
Asthma: Sweet Flag medicine is highly beneficial in the treatment of asthma. It
clears the phlegm matter from the bronchial passage. Sweet flag is roasted and powdered. Then about two gram
of this powder is mixed in honey and given for intake.
Common cold: A small dose of sweet flag powder taken with honey provides immediate relief in common clod.
Whooping cough: A pinch of roasted sweet flag powder can be given with honey to arrests severe bouts of cough.
Intestinal worms: A pinch of powder can be given in the morning and evening to clear the intestines of children.
Mouth disorders: Sweet flag is useful to treat mouth ulcers, bad odors, coating and
rawness of tongue causes by inflammation.
Skin disorders: A paste of sweet flag can be applied externally in cases of skin
disorders like eczema, ringworm and scabies.
Stammer: Sweet helps to get relief from stammering. A pinch of this powder can be
taken in the morning and evening for some days.
Sweet flag rejuvenates nerves: Ayurvedic medicine says that sweet flag is an important herb which is
valued as a rejuvenator for the brain and nervous system.
Poisonous bites: Sweet flag is an antidote for several
poisons and can be applied on the bitten point.
Arthritis: A warm sweet flag paste
is applied externally on the painful areas. It relieves pain in cases of joint pain, arthritis and even piles.
Sexual life: calamus will keep people young, boost their health, and
strengthen their sexual life. A herbal bath with calamus is said to increase sexual desire.
Other Uses of Acorus calamus
The oil of Acorus calamus is used as an ingredient in flavors,
particularly in liquors. It is used in the making of
alcoholic drinks and in perfume to give a bitter tang to the former and
those special nuances to the perfumes, it is also used in toothpaste.
Sweet Flag History
Sweet flag has been used as medicine for more than 2000 years. In olden times, sweet flag, or calamus, was recommended by Taoists as having the power to bestow immortality.
The aroma of sweet flag is the basis for its long history in herb lore.
Originally, China and India were the motherlands of Calamus, or sweet flag, which was first taken to Russia in the 11th century when the Mongolians overcame the Russian territory.
Mongolians considered that sweet flag purified the water.
Sweet Flag Side Effects
The essential oil of calamus contains
aserone, which has a high toxicity Today, neither dried rhizome nor essential oil of sweet flag is allowed in food in the United States because the leading component of the essential oil is said to be carcinogenic.
Use this herb internally at all, or only under the supervision of a qualified expert.
In market the rhizome has found its way into hair and tooth powders and beverages., including beer, bitters, tonics, liqueurs, and cordials.
Sweet flag is used for its refreshing aroma. In powdered form it is used for sachet and toilet powders. The distilled oil is used in perfumery
Hoffer and Osmond's account has been cited in many books since its
publication as evidence of the plant's use as a native hallucinogen.
Calamus can be used as an antianxiety drug that has a calming
effect according to new study. Some users take it to treat panic and anxiety attacks.
1. Balakumbahan, R.; K. Rajamani and K. Kumanan "Acorus calamus: An overview"
2. S. Asha Devi; Deepak Ganjewala ,"Antioxidant Activities of Methanolic Extracts of Sweet-Flag (Acorus calamus)
Leaves and Rhizomes Journal of Herbs, Spices & Medicinal Plants Volume 17
Raina, V. K. ; Srivastava, S. K.; Syamasunder, K. V. "Essential oil composition of Acorus calamus L. from the lower region of the Himalayas"