|Common Sweet Flag|
|Acorus calamus |
Botanical informationThe morphological distinction between the Acorus species is made by the number of prominent leaf veins. Acorus calamus has a single prominent midvein and then on both sides slightly raised secondary veins (with a diameter less than half the midvein) and many fine tertiary veins. This makes it clearly distinct from Acorus americanus.
The leaves are between 0.7 and 1.7 cm wide, with average of 1 cm. The sympodial leaf of Acorus calamus is somewhat shorter than the vegetative leaves. The margin is curly-edged or undulate. The spadix, at the time of expansion, can reach a length between 4.9 and 8.9 cm (longer than A. americanus). The flowers are longer too, between 3 and 4 mm. Acorus calamus is infertile and shows an abortive ovary with a shriveled appearance.
One subspecies, Acorus calamus var. angustatus Besser, Synonyms: Acorus asiaticus, Acorus cochinchinensis, Acorus latifolius, Acorus rumphianus, Acorus spurius, Acorus triqueter, Acorus tatarinowii, Acorus terrestris, Orontium cochinchinense, Acorus calamus var. spurius, Acorus gramineus var. crassispadix.
ChemistryBoth triploid and tetraploid calamus contain asarone Other phytochemicals include:
RegulationsCalamus and products derived from calamus (such as its oil) were banned in 1968 as food additives and medicines by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
- It has a stimulating , nervine and anti-spasmodic properties .
- It acts as a rejuvenative for the brain and nervous system.
- It is used to promote cerebral circulation .
In Bali, Indonesia, calamus is used to give flavour in meat, vegetable and fish dishes.
In antiquity in the Orient and Egypt, the rhizome was thought to be a powerful aphrodisiac. In Europe Acorus calamus was often added to wine, and the root is also one of the possible ingredients of absinthe. Among the northern Native Americans, it is used both medicinally and as a stimulant. It is believed by some that calamus is an hallucinogen. This urban legend is based solely on two pages of a book written by Hoffer and Osmund entitled "The Hallucinogens." The information on these two pages came from anecdotal reports from two individuals (a husband and wife) who reported that they had ingested calamus on a few occasions. None of the components in calamus are converted to TMA (trimethoxyamphetamine) in the human organism. To date there is no solid evidence of any hallucinogenic substances in calamus. Acorus calamus shows neuroprotective effect against stroke and chemical induced neurodegeneration in rat. Specifically, it has protective effect against acrylamide induced neurotoxicity.
Teton-Dakota warriors chewed the root to a paste, which they rubbed on their faces. It prevented excitement and fear when facing an enemy.
The Ojibway make a tea by taking a piece of root and scalding it, then drinking the tea warm. Gargling the tea or chewing on a piece of root is also good for sore throat.
The Potawatomi powder the dried root and put up the nose to cure a runny nose.