User Tools

Site Tools


Previous Calamus, org (1/2 lb.)

Item Number : 6862 Price: $10.95

USDA Organic

Certified Organic Calamus root powder (Acorus calamus)

Highly aromatic herb that is used externally to help remove massage oil*


   * Supports proper function of the lymphatic system*
   * Invigorates the skin*
   * Promotes the removal of natural toxins*

Ayurvedic Energetics:

   * Doshas (constitutions): Balancing for vata and kapha, may increase pitta.

Commentary: The use of Calamus in foods is prohibited in the United States by the FDA. Whether or not it can be used as an ingredient in a dietary supplement is not clear. In the 70s and '80s, studies demonstrating carcinogenic activity in animals were conducted with rodents fed or injected massive doses of beta - asarone. The Indian variety of Calamus contains beta-asarone and was subsequently banned from use in foods in the United States. Pending clarification on this issue, Banyan's bulk Calamus powder is not for human consumption.

Calamus powder is commonly used externally during Pancha Karma or after Abhyanga (self-oil massage) to remove oil. It is a highly aromatic herb that supports the proper function of the lymphatic system and enlivens the skin. As an ingredient in massage oils, Calamus stimulates the body and helps to remove natural toxins. It can also be used in nasya (nasal) oils to sharpen the mind and increase awareness.*

For a 1 lb bag click here For five lbs or more in bulk click here

Products that contain Calamus include: Kapha Massage Oil, and Nasya Oil

This product is organically grown and processed in accordance with the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP).

For more information on Calamus visit:

FDA's regulation on Calamus

Wikipedia's entry for Sweet Flag

Herbs of Life: Vacha monograph

Search index page description Banyan Botanicals Bala root powder is USDA certified organic, sustainably sourced, and fairly traded. Calamus is also known as Bach (Hindi), Vacha (Sanskrit), Sweet Flag (English), and Vadakala (Sinhalese). The botanical name of Calamus is Acorus calamus. Calamus root powder is available in ½ lb and 1 lb bags and in bulk bags of 5 lbs or more.


Botanical name: Acorus calamus, Acoraceae

Other names: Ugragandha (S), Bach (H), Vashampu (T), Sweet Flag (E)


Vacha is a perennial plant with a creeping rhizome about the thickness of a finger, with numerous rootlets, the cortex brown to pinkish brown, the medulla white and spongy. The long, narrow sword-like leathery leaves are bright green, whitish-pink at the base, sheathing, up to 1.8 meters in length, thickened along the midrib, the other parallel veins barely visible, the margins wavy and the tip acute. The greenish-yellow flowers are small, densely packed into a sessile cylindrical spadix about 10 cm long. The entire plant has a characteristic cinnamon-like aroma. The fruits are oblong turbinate berries with a pyramidal top, mostly lacking seeds. Vacha is found throughout India in wet marshy locations up to elevations of about 1800 meters, and is similarly found in other parts of Eurasia and Africa, and has since been introduced into North America. Although A. calamus is only one of three species that are generally recognized as being members of the Acoraceae (i.e. A. calamus, A. gramineus, and recently, A. americanus), botanists have further classified A. calamus based upon the number of pairs of chromosomes (n) found in each genetic species, including hexaploid (6n), tetraploid (4n), triploid (3n) or diploid (2n). The Eurasian genetic species of A. calamus is stated as being hexaploid, tetraploid or triploid, and is infertile, only reproducing by vegetative means. Dilpoid genetic species of A. calamus, as well as the very similar A. americanus native to North America are stated to be fertile, and reproduce both by seed and rhizome (Kirtikar and Basu 1935, 2626-7; Warrier et al 1994, 51; Larry 1973).

Part used

rhizome and rootlets, best harvested in June (Li and Jiang 1994)


 * Rasa: katu, tikta
 * Vipaka: laghu
 * Virya: ushna
 * Karma: vamana, asyasravana, dipanapachana, anulomana, shulaprashamana, krimiaghna, chedana, kasahara, svasahara, mutravirechana, artavajanana, medhya, Vatakaphahara
 * Prabhava: Vacha is said to stimulate the power of self-expression and to enhance intelligence (Dash 1991, 148; Frawley and Lad 1986, 106; Nadkarni 1954,36; Warrier et al 1994, 51)


Vacha is noted for its delightfully sweet and pleasing fragrance, a feature of its essential oil, which includes a great variety of constituents including alpha-asarone and beta-asarone, as well as elemicine, cis-isoelemecine, cis and trans eugenol and their methyl esters, camphene, p-cymene, beta-gurjunene, alpha-selinene, beta-candinene, camphor, alpha-terpineol, alpha-calacorene, azulene, calamenene, limonene, linalol, menthol, methyl-chavicol, sabinene and many others. The potentially toxic beta-asarone is stated as being present in all varieties except for the diploid (2n) genetic species and the native North American (2n) species (A. americanus). Hexaploid species from Kashmir and the triploid European species however can contain as little as 5-10% beta-asarone, but the tetraploid species most commonly found in India can contain upwards of 75% beta-asarone. In regard to the other constituents in Vacha there is little information: bitter glycosides acorin and acoretin, the flavonoid galangin, the alkaloid choline, oxalic acid, mucilage, resins and tannins (Duke 2003; Williamson et al 2002; Kapoor 1990, 18; Lander and Schreier 1990; Duke 1985, 14-15; Vashist and Handa 1964; Larry 1973).

Medical research

Anticonvulsant: Extracts of Acorus calamus inhibited caffeine citrate contractions and caused negative ionotropic and chronotropic effects in frogs. It did not, however, afford protection against strychnine and acetylcholine induced convulsions in frogs. The extract was also found to antagonize spontaneous motor activity and amphetamine induced hyperactivity in mice. Over all, the extract was found to be less potent than chloropromazine, though exerts sedative and tranquilizing action (Panchal et al. 1989).

Antispasmodic: A spasmolytic activity upon the smooth muscle of the trachea, bronchus, intestine and vascular tissue has been reported for both the European and Asian varieties of the oil (Opdyke 1977; Das et al 1962)

Sedation: A sedative action and a potentiation of barbituate effect (increased sleeping time, reduced body temperature) was observed in small animals (mice, rats, rabbits and cats) following the intraperitoneal administration of the aqeuous and ethanolic extracts of both European and Asian varieties of Acorus calamus (Opdyke 1977). The Asian oil of A. calamus is reorted to deplete levels of serotonin and norepinepherine in the rat brain following intraperitoneal administration, in a manner similar to that of resperine (Opdyke 1977). In contrast, the European variety has not been found to have the same activity upon the central nervous system (Opdyke 1977). A monoamine oxidase inhibiting activity has been observed in the oil of the Asian species of Acorus calamus (Opdyke 1977).

Neuroprotective: Researchers tested the effects of A. calamus in acrylamide-induced neurotoxicity in rats. Exposure to acrylamide caused hind limb paralysis in 58% of the animals on day 10 and decreased behavioural parameters. Researchers also noted a decrease in the reduced glutathione (GSH) content and glutathione-S-transferase (GST) activity in the corpus striatum and an increase in striatal dopamine receptors, as evident by an increase in the binding of 3H-spiperone to striatal membranes. Treatment with an ethanol:aqueous extract of the rhizomes of A. calamus was found to increase the GSH content and GST activity in the corpus striatum. Rats treated with acrylamide and A. calamus in combination had a lower incidence of paralysis (18%) compared with those treated with acrylamide alone, and also showed a partial recovery in other behavioural parameters, with an increase in GSH content and GST activity in the corpus striatum (Shukla et al 2002).

Antiulcerogenesis: Researchers examined the effect an ethanolic extract of A. calamus in various models of ulcerogenesis, including indomethacin, resperine, cysteamine and pyloric ligation, in rats. The extract was found to produce a significant reduction in the volume and acidity of the gastric secretions, and was found to protect against chemically-induced lesions (Rafatullah et al 1994).

Hypolipidemic: Researchers examined the hypolipidemic activity of A. calamus in rats. The administration of a 50% ethanolic extract in doses equal to 100 and 200 mg/kg, as well as a purifed mixtures of saponins (10 mg/kg) isolated from an extract of Acorus calamaus demonstrated significant hypolipidemic activity (Parab and Mengi et al 2002).

Antiinflammatory: Researchers evaluated the anticellular and immunomodulatory properties of an ethanolic extract of Acorus calamus rhizome. The extract was found to inhibit the proliferation of mitogen and antigen stimulated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells, as well as inhibited growth of several cell lines of mouse and human origin. The extract also inhibited production of nitric oxide, interleukin-2 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (Mehrotra et al 2003)

Antibacterial: The oil of the Asian variety of Acorus calamus has been found to possess an antibacterial activity against organisms responsible for digestive and throat infections (Jain et al 1974), although a lack of antibacterial activity has also been reported (Opdyke 1977).

Nematocidal: Asarone derived from Acorus calamus was found to exhibit in vitro nematocidal activity against Toxocara canis. The nematocidal activity was found to have two independent activities, one of quickly inhibiting larval mobility and the other other with a slow larvicidal activity. Mobility of the larvae was rapidly inhibited when they were incubated with asarone, but the effect was temporary and reversible. However, when the mobility decreased again during prolonged incubation, the cellular viability of larvae disappeared, showing that they had been killed by asarone (Sugimoto et al. 1995).

Toxicity: Feeding studies in rats using the volatile oil of the Asian species of A. calamus has resulted in growth inhibition, hepatic and cardiac abnormalities, serous effusion in abdominal and/or peritoneal cavities, and death (Taylor et al 1967; Gross et al 1967). The LD50 for the volatile oil of the Asian species is 777 mg/kg (rat, oral), less than 5g/kg (guinea pig, dermal), and 221 mg/kg (rat, intraperitoneal). The oil is generally considered to be non-irritating, but is reported to have caused cases of erythema and dermatitis in sensitive individuals (Opdyke 1977).

Indications: Toothache, dyspepsia, hiatus hernia, gastritis, flatulent colic, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, dysentery, intestinal parasites, upper respiratory tract viral infections, intermittent fever, cough, bronchitis, asthma, sinus headaches, sinusitis, hay fever, urolithiasis, inflammatory joint disease, gout, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, epilepsy, convulsions, hysteria, depression, shock, loss of memory, deafness, hysteria, neuralgia, numbness, eczema, general debility (Dash 1991, 148; Frawley and Lad 1986, 106; Nadkarni 1954, 36; Warrier et al 1994, 51; Weiss 1988, 44)

Contraindications: Caution should be used with the concomitant use A. calamus with benzodiazepines, barbituates, MAO inhibitors and anticonvulsants (Opdyke 1977). A. calamus is an emetic in large doses, and should be avoided in pre-existing cases of nausea and vomiting, and for this reason is also contraindicated in pregnancy. Care should be taken to avoid the use of the Asian (3n, 4n, 6n) species in patients with liver dysfunction due to beta-asarone content (Weiss 1988).

Medicinal uses: Across the world Calamus is regarded as a useful bitter-tasting aromatic stomachic, used most commonly in the treatment of disorders marked by coldness, catarrh and spasm, particularly in afflictions of the digestive tract including dyspepsia and bowel spasm. The German physician Rudolf Weiss considered Calamus to have a “powerful tonic effect on the stomach, encouraging its secretory activity,” further adding that he has “seen it used to very satisfactory effect in stomach cancer clients…for symptomatic treatment” (1988, 44). Ayurvedic medicine too confirms the efficacy of Vacha in digestive disorders, given simply as an infusion or decoction in the treatment of dyspepsia, flatulence and diarrhea, or in complex polyherbal formulations In the treatment of Kaphaja colic the Chakradatta recommends Vachadi churna, comprised of the powders of Vacha, Musta, Katuka, Haritaki and Murva (Marsdenia tinacissima) (Sharma 2002, 263). In the treatment of udavarta, which is the upward movement of apana vayu causing symptoms including abdominal distension, constipation and dyspnea, the powders of Vacha, Hingu, Kushta, Shathi (Hedychium spicatum), and Vida lavana (black salt) are mixed with wine and taken internally (Sharma 2002, 283). In the treatment of gulma or abdominal tumors the Chakradatta recommends Vachadya churna, comprised of equal parts Vacha, Haritaki, Hingu, Amlavetasa (Garcinia pedunculata), Yavani, Yavakshara (Hordeum vulgare seed ash) and saindhava, taken with warm water (Sharma 2002, 294). Combined with Nimba, Haridra, Chitraka, Katuka, and Ativisha (Aconitum heterophyllum), Vacha is used in Kaphaja fever (Sharma 2002, 15). Combined with Musta, Devadaru, Ativisha (Aconitum heterophyllum) and Indrayava (Holarrhena antidysenterica seed), Vacha is used in diarrhea produced by Vata and Pitta (Sharma 2002, 55). Combined with Pippali, Bilva, Kushta, Chitraka, Devadaru, Madhuka (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Shatapushpa (Anethum graveolens), Madana (Randia dumetorium), Shathi (Hedychium spicatum), and Pushkaramula (Inula helenium), Vacha is decocted in oil and milk until all the milk has evaporated to create a medicated oil that is taken internally in the treatment of Vataja hemorrhoids, as well as in rectal prolapse, dysentery, dysuria, lumbago and lower back weakness (Sharma 2002, 88). Beyond its usage in digestive disorders, Vacha has other applications, taken alone or in combination with Yashtimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra) in the treatment of cough, bronchitis and sore throats (Nadkarni 1954, 37). Vacha is also used in the treatment of gout and skin diseases caused by Vata and Kapha, the Chakradatta recommending a combination of equal parts Vacha, Amalaki, Haritaki, Vibhitaki, Nimba, Manjishta, Katuka, Guduchi and Daruharidra (Berberis aristata) called Navakarsika, used in the treatment of gout and skin diseases (Sharma 2002, 236). In the treatment of amavata or inflammatory joint disease, Vacha is used in combination with Guduchi, Shunthi, Haritaki, Devadaru, Ativisha (Aconitum heterophyllum) and Shathi (Hedychium spicatum), along with a Kapha reducing diet (Sharma 2002, 246). Other indications for Vacha include cardiac angina, anemia and jaundice. In the treatment of cardiac angina Vacha is mixed with equal parts Pippali, Ela, Shunthi, Ajamoda (Apium graveolens seed), Yavakshara (Hordeum vulgare seed) and saindhava (Sharma 2002, 302). Decocted with Triphala, Guduchi, Katuka, Kiratatikta (Swertia chirata) and Nimba, Vacha is taken with honey in the treatment of anemia and jaundice (Sharma 2002, 114). The name Vacha means ‘to speak,’ referring to its usage in apasmara (epilepsy), a condition characterized by seizure, a loss of consciousness and memory loss, allowing the patient regain the ability to ‘speak’ and regain normal consciousness. Used in nasya, the ‘strongly aromatic’ and tikshna properties suggested by its synonym, Ugragandha, makes Vacha an important traditional remedy to restore consciousness. The Charaka samhita recommends Vachadya ghritam in the treatment of epilepsy due to vitiated Vata and Kapha, made simply by decocting one part coarsely ground Vacha rhizome in four parts ghee and eight parts water until all the water has been evaporated. The resulting preparation may be taken internally in doses of about five grams, and/or applied in nasya (Sharma and Dash 1988, 447). In the treatment of convulsion and seizure Vacha is taken either as a powder or a decoction along with Haritaki, Rasna (Pluchea lanceolata), Amlavetasa (Garcinia pedunculata) and saindhava, with ghee (Sharma 2002, 200). In a similar vein, Vacha is considered to be an important remedy in unmada, or psychosis. The Chakradatta recommends the fresh juice of Vacha, Brahmi, Kushmanda, Shankapusphi and Kushta mixed with honey, and taken internally, 12-24 grams, as a specific treatment for unmada. Combined with the powders of Haridra, Kushta, Pippali, Shunthi, Jiraka (Cuminum cyminum), Yashtimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra) and saindhava, Vacha churna is also taken with ghee to enhance memory and remove disorders of speech (Sharma 2002, 199). The psychotropic properties of Vacha have also been utilized in other cultures, among the First Nations people of North America for example, as well as the Moso shamans of Yunnan China, both groups using it as a spiritual aid (Grinnell 1905 42; Hart 1981; Smith 1973; Gilmore 1919; Miller 1983, 58). The Bible also mentions the supernatural activities of Vacha, which was included as one of the constituents of a ‘holy oil’ that God commanded Moses to rub on his body before entering the tabernacle (Exodus 30:22-25). The hallucinogenic properties of Vacha have been attributed to alpha-asarone and beta-asarone, precursors to 1,2,4-trimethory-5-propenylbenzene, a phenyethylamine that is reported to have ten times the potency of mescaline (Miller 1983, 58). The hallucinogenic dose of the whole plant however begins at about 25-30 g of the fresh rhizome, and given the aromatic pungency and potentially emetic properties of Vacha, it is a difficult dosage to attain. As mentioned, the essential oil of the Asian genetic species (3n, 4n, 6n) of Vacha contains variable amounts of beta-asarone, which has been shown to be carcinogenic in experimental animals. The North American (2n) genetic species however is stated to contain beta-asarone and can thus be safely used as a substitute (Weiss 1988, 44). Too much concern over the potential carcinogenicity of the Asian species is unwarranted however, as Vacha has been used for millennia by peoples all across the world, both as a medicine and food. Nonetheless, the chronic consumption of the Asian species is not recommended, and should be approached with caution in patients with a history of liver disease. In Chinese medicine the similar but much less fragrant A. gramineus rhizome (Shi Chang Pu) is used in much the same way as A. calamus is used in Ayurvedic medicine, to open the channels of the body, dispel Phlegm and quiet the Spirit. It is also stated to harmonize the Middle Burner, relieving symptoms of epigastric fullness caused by Dampness, and is used as an analgesic remedy in joint pain and trauma caused by Wind, Cold and Damp (Bensky and Gamble 1993, 415).


• Churna: freshly ground dried rhizome, 1-5 g, bid-tid; higher doses as an emetic • Phanta: dried rhizome, 30-90 mL, bid-t.i.d. • Kvatha: dried rhizome, in milk, 60-90 mL, bid-tid • Kalka: applied externally for headaches, toothache, and in the nasal cavities to treat nasal polyps and sinus congestion; used to promote suppuration in indolent ulcers • Tincture: fresh rhizome 1:2, 95% alcohol; dried rhizome 1:5, 60% ethanol; 1-3 mL t.i.d. • Ghrita: as nasya, 1-3 gtt. in each nostril

Fair Use Source:

Acori Graminei, Rz

Pinyin: Changpu

Common name: sweetflag rhizome

Botanical family: Araceae

Botanical name: Acorus gramineus Soland.

Primary action: Aromatic Open Orifices

Secondary actions: Rectify Qi; Dispel Wind Dampness; Drain Dampness, Promote Urination Temperature: warm

Taste: acrid

Entering Channel: Ht, Lv, Sp, [St]


Opens orifices of the Heart and Spirit and disperses and expels Phlegm; used for dulled senses, poor memory, dizziness and stupor associated with Phlegm.

Harmonizes Middle Burner; used in conditions of abdominal and ribside fullness with poor appetite and nausea.

Expels Wind Cold Dampness and relieves pain in the Channels.

Transforms Turbid Damp Urinary disorders such as prostatitis.

(See Phlegm ; Qi Stagnation ; Stomach Qi Stagnation ; Interior Dampness ; Wind-Damp Bi ; Turbid Dampness of Urinary Bladder .)

Dosage: 1-3 qian.

Fair Use Source:

Acorus calamus

Botanical name : Acorus calamus Linn.

Family : Araceae


Vacha, Ugragandha, Golomi, Jatila, Shatgrandhi, Sataparvita



Rasa : Katu, Tikta

Guna : Lakhu, Teekshna

Virya : Ushna

Vipaka: Katu

Prabhava : Medhya


English : Sweet flag

Hindi : Baach, Vacha

Malayalam : Vayambu

Distribution – Throughout India growing wild in marshy areas. Also cultivated


A rhizomatous, perennial semi aquatic plant grows up to 40 cm in height. Leaves simple, bright green, distichous, thickened in the middle, ensiform; flowers seen in densely packed spadix inflorescence, fruits oblong berries seeds few suspended from the apex of cells. Underground rhizomes are creeping, branched about 1 cm in diameter.


Plant pacifies vitiated vata, kapha, insomnia, insanity, other mental diseases, epilepsy, mania, stomatitis, hoarseness of voice, colic, flatulence, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, neuropathy, renal calculi, cough, inflammation, arthritis, kidney diseases, hemorrhoids, skin diseases and general debility. Useful part : Underground rhizomes.

Photo: Dr. Eby Abraham MD

Fair Use Source:

Acorus (sweet flag – 2 spp.) Acorus calamus - called Vacha in Sanskrit and Shi Chang Pu in TCM Mandarin.

Part of the Araceae family: (115 genera, 2000 spp.):

acorus_calamus.txt · Last modified: 2018/02/26 18:10 (external edit)