Acorus calamus, or simply calamus, is a plant indigenous to Central Asia. There are different species of calamus that also grow in Europe and North America. The perennial plant with grass-like leaves flourishes in watery, marshy places, lakeside and on the margins of streams. The dried root of the plant is said to possess medicinal properties, and its usage dates back to ancient times, particularly in certain Asian cultures. Following are its purported health benefits.
Did You Know?Calamus root appears to exhibit emmenagogue activity; hence should be avoided by pregnant women.
Benefits of Calamus Root
Calamus root has long been used for relieving hyperacidity or excess secretion of gastric acid. Consuming its extracts may work to counter acidity as well as alleviate heartburn and dyspepsia commonly associated with hyperacidity. It acts as a digestive aid and can help relieve distended stomach commonly associated with poor digestion. It also increases appetite, which may help combat anorexia.
Alleviates Respiratory Problems
Lung infections, such as bronchitis, that are typically marked by mucus buildup in the airways and cause chest congestion can also be treated with calamus root. According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), calamus root acts as an expectorant that helps to liquefy thick mucus, which works to facilitate its expulsion. Thus, consuming calamus root may help ease breathing trouble associated with respiratory complaints. Its purported antitussive properties may also help suppress dry cough.
The root of the plant is said to have both antiviral and antibacterial properties, so taking it extracts may help treat common cold, sore throat, and chest cold.
Exhibits Vasodilatory Activity
Calamus root is said to have vasodilatory properties, which means it helps to widen blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure. This allows blood to circulate more easily, and your heart does not have to work as hard to promote blood flow through the relaxed blood vessels.
Herbal practitioners in China have been using calamus root for treating disturbances in heart rhythms as it is said to have antiarrhythmic properties. However, as it can influence heart rhythms, people with heart diseases should use it judiciously.
In Asian countries, the calamus root is well-known for its warm-spicy taste. It is commonly used as a flavoring agent in these parts of the world. The dried, powdered form of calamus root that has an aromatic spiciness is an ideal replacement for other condiments like ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Used in Perfumery
Calamus essential oil extracted from the root is in great demand in the perfume industry. It has a spicy aroma that can render a richer scent to the perfume. It is commonly added in perfumes with woody and oriental fragrances. Calamus oil is also an active ingredient in mouth washes and chewing gum.
Displays Parasiticidal Activity
Calamus root is said to have antiparasitic properties, so its topical application may help treat parasitic skin infections. Repeated application of tincture of calamus root can help get rid of itchy skin disorders caused by microscopic scabies mite. Drinking a glass of water containing 5 to 6 drops of tincture can also help get rid of intestinal parasites. External application of the tincture can also be used in the treatment of burns and other skin problems such as eczema.
Combats Tobacco Addiction
The habit of smoking and chewing tobacco is not easy to break, but with calamus root, getting rid of this unhealthy addiction may not seem that difficult. This is because chewing the calamus root can create a dislike for the taste of tobacco. So, those who are addicted to illegal drugs, may be able to quit this habit by using this root. Also, chewing or smoking tobacco often leaves you with bad breath. Chewing the root can also help eliminate the odor of tobacco.
There have been no human studies to evaluate the medicinal value of calamus root. Although few in vitro studies have been conducted on calamus root, research is lacking in clinical trials. Moreover, the herb contains B-asarone, a known carcinogen. The concentration of B-asarone may vary depending upon the species of the herb. However, the American variety is found to be free from this cancer-causing compound. Nevertheless, one should take the consent of a qualified doctor before using the herb (tincture, infusion, tea) for medicinal purposes.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.