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Acorus calamus

Latin Name: Acorus Calamus 

Common name: Sweet Flag

Family: Araceae

Parts used: Root/Rhizome


  • Volatile oils (sequiterpenes and monoterpenes: acorenone, isocalamendiol, α-and β-asarone (content varies greatly with species and habitat), α-and β-pinenes, myrcene, p-cymene, phellandrene-β, terpinene-γ, terpinolene, thujane and limonene.
  • Saponins (steroidal glycosides)
  • Mucilage
  • Bitter principle (acorin, acoretin)
  • Lignans (epieudesmin, galgravin)
  • Tannins
  • Resins

Medicinal actions:

  • Analgesic
  • Anthelmintic (Antiparasitic)
  • Anti-lithic
  • Antioxidant
  • Antimicrobial (Antifungal & Antibacterial)
  • Antispasmodic
  • Carminative
  • Diuretic
  • Emmenagogue
  • Euphoric
  • Expectorant (Bronchodilator)
  • Hypotensive
  • Immunosuppressant
  • Nervine stimulant







Medicinal use:

  • As an anti-diarrhea agent, and for the management of several inflammatory gastrointestinal conditions associated with dyspepsia, intestinal spasm and infection (ie. parasites).
  • For respiratory conditions including cough, asthma, sinus-related headaches & congestion, and has been used as a snuff in cases of sinusitis.
  • Used in Ayurvedic medicine for neurological conditions for centuries, known for enhancing mental clarity and aiding memory loss, mental fogginess, lack of focus, nervousness, and anxiety. The root has also been chewed traditionally to help break addiction to tobacco, and to give stamina and endurance or to prepare for exerting activities.
  • For treating diabetes in traditional folk medicine in America and Indonesia.
  • As a topical, the root is made into a paste and applied in arthritis, neuralgia, skin infections, and toothaches.


  • Volatile oils affect the digestive, circulatory, nervous, and respiratory systems. Anticholinergic activity, calcium channel blockade, and phosphodiesterase inhibition (specifically PDE4) may provide possible pharmacological basis for use in the relaxation of airways and  in conditions such as asthma.
  • Mucilage & saponins increase expectoration and are  theorized to act as a relaxant and antispasmodic to the lungs from the digestive tract through the spinal reflex.


  • Powder: 250-500 mg per day (max 1 gram daily)
  • Decoction in water or milk: 1 tsp of herb to 1 cup of water (honey often added)
  • Tincture: (1:5, 25%) 2-4 ml TID. 80 ml weekly max
  • Topical: as paste or plaster


  • Not for long-term use.
  • Large doses may cause nausea and/or vomiting and tachycardia.
  • Avoid during pregnancy due to possible emmenagogue effects.
  • Use caution in immunocompromised individuals.


  • Avoid during pregnancy due to possible emmenagogue effects.
  • Immunocompromised individuals should also avoid Calamus.


  • Theoretical additive effects with immunosuppressant, hypotensive or hypoglycemic agents.


  • Find a complete list of references for this monograph as well as images and a review of its evidence based applications in Dr. Marciano’s Herbal Textbook.



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