Acorus calamus Linn

Habitat ► Wild and cultivated throughout India in damp marshy places from 900 to 1,800 m; common in Manipur and Naga Hills.

English ► Sweet Flag, Calamus.

Ayurvedic ► Vachaa, Ugragandhaa, Ugraa, Golomi, Shadgranthaa, Shataparvaa, Tikshnagandhaa, Kshudra-patra, Maangalyaa, Ghor-bach.

Siddha/Tamil ► Vasambu.

Action ► Rhizome—nervine tonic, hypotensive, tranquilizer, sedative (with neuroleptic and antianxiety properties), analgesic, spasmolytic, anticonvulsant; used for bronchial catarrh, chronic diarrhoea and dysentery.

Along with other therapeutic applications, The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India indicates the use of the dried rhizomes as a brain tonic in weak memory, psychoneurosis and epilepsy.

Four types of Calamus are used in herbal medicine: type I—Acorus calamus L. var. americanus, a diploid American var.; type II—var. vulgaris L. (var. calamus), a European triploid; type III and type IV—var. augustatus Bess. and var. versus L., subtropical tetraploids.

Beta-asarone is carcinogenic in animals. Volatile oil of types II, III and IV—major constituent is usually beta-asarone (isoasarone), up to 96%. Indian calamus oil contains asarone up to 82% and its beta-isomer. In type I, beta-asarone and other phenylpropa-noids are absent. It is superior in spasmolytic activity to the other types.

Indian practitioners mostly use A. calamus externally. Shveta Vachaa (Haimavati, equated with Acorus gra-mineus Scoland. Ex Ait., a diploid, is used internally. Unani physicians use Paris polyphylla Sim. as Khuraasaani Bach.

The essential oil-free alcoholic extract of A. calamus possesses sedative and analgesic properties.

Alpha-asarone potentiates pento-barbital, accounts for some, but not all, neurodepressive activity. Beta-asarone is reportedly hallucinogenic. (Francis Brinker.)

The ethanolic extract of rhizomes show significant antisecretory and an-tiulcerogenic activity; also, protective effect against cytodestructive agents, experimentally.

Dosage ► Rhizome—60-120 mg powder. (API Vol. II.)

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