Sweet Flag: Best Herb for Brain and Stomach Health Problems (Acorus Calamus)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Common Names

3. Vernacular Names

4. Synonyms

5. Distribution

6. Morphology

7. Types

8. Ayurvedic Properties

9. Chemical Constituent

10. Identity, Purity, and Strength

11. Ayurvedic and Pharmacological Actions

12. Health Benefits

13. Therapeutic Uses

14. Official Part Used

15. General Doses

16. Acorus Calamus Root Tea

“Sweet flag is one of the oldest herbs used in mental disorders and improves the power of speech since ages.”

1. Introduction

The plant is designed the name Vacha because of its ability to improve the power of speech. It is widely used in other medical systems like Chinese, European, and Greek for many ailments. The native American tribes used it as an anaesthetic drug for toothache and headache. The ancient Chinese used it in swelling and constipation.

This plant is native to Asia and Europe and is well-known for its numerous health benefits. From improving digestion to reducing anxiety, Sweet Flag has a lot to offer. In addition, it is also used for its stimulating effects on the mind, making it a popular ingredient in teas and other herbal remedies.

Sweet flag is well known for its distinctive spicy, sweet aroma and has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat various ailments such as digestive problems, fever, and respiratory issues. Apart from its medicinal properties, Acorus calamus is also used as a flavouring agent in the food and beverage industry, as well as in perfumes and cosmetics.

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2. Common Names

Family – Araceae

Hindi Name – Bach

English Name – Sweet Flag

3. Vernacular Names

Assamese - Bach

Bengali – Vach

Gujrati – Vaj

Kannada – Baje, Narru

Malayalam – Vayambu

Marathi – Vaca

Kashmiri – Vahi, Mazar posh

Tamil – Vasambu

Telugu – Vasa, Vadaje

Urdu – Waja-e-Turki

4. Synonyms

Jatila – Its rhizomes are dense and hairy.

Kshudrapatra – The plant has linear-shaped leaves.

Mangalya – The rhizomes is regarded as auspicious.

Shataparvika – It has numerous nodes and internodes.

Ugragandha – It has strong odour or intense smell.

5. Distribution

The plant is native to North America and Northern, Eastern Asia, naturalized in Southern Asia and Europe from ancient cultivation. It is found throughout India under cultivation as well as in the wild state, ascending to an altitude of 2,200 m. It grows vigorously at the waterside in dumpy marshy places such as meadows, edges of lakes, and banks of streams and rivers.

6. Types

Dhanvantari Nighantu: Two types: Vacha and Shweta Vacha.

Raj Nighantu: Three types: Vacha, Shweta Vacha and Kulanjana.

Bhavaprakash Nighantu: Four types: Hemavati, Mahabhari vacha (kulanjan), Divpantra Vacha(Chopchini)

7. Morphology

The plant is a strongly aromatic gregarious perennial herb of about 2 to 4 feet, arising from a partially underground creeping and branched rhizome. When the older portion of the rhizome decays the branches which get separated becomes independent plant.

Leaves – Strongly aromatic, simple, alternate, distichous, closely arranged, vertically oriented linear to narrowly ensiform, 2 to 3 feet long and ½ to 1 inch broad, occasionally longer and broader, glossy bright green acute tip with a thick and stout midrib.

Flowering Stem – Scape are one to two in number, arises from the axils of the outer leaves compressed triangular, solid and spongy, flowering upwards. Inflorescence in a short stumpy spadix, 2 to 3 inch long and 0.5 to 0.75 inch in diameter.

Flower – Small, sessile, bisexual, densely packed so as to form a solid cylindrical tapering blunt spike 2 to 4 inch long, often curved.

Rhizomes – Branched, horizontal, flat, 0.5 to 1 inch thick, aromatic, creeping, with nodes and internodes, upper surface light to dark brown, marked with remnants of leaves, studded with lenticels, lower surface with many rootlets, internally creamy white.

 Acorus Calamus leaves

Acorus Calamus Leaves

Acorus Calamus Flower

Acorus Calamus Flower


Acorus Calamus Root

Acorus Calamus Root

8. Ayurvedic Properties

Rasa (Taste): It has Tikta, Katu taste.

Virya (Potency): It is ushna in nature (hot).

Vipaka (Post-digestive taste): The post-digestive taste is katu (bitter).

9. Chemical Constituent

The rhizome contains asrone, calamenol, calamine, eugenol, camphene, various fatty acids, calamol, acordin, azulene and isoacolamone.

10. Identity, Purity, and Strength

For Rhizome

Foreign Matter – Not more than 1%

Total Ash – Not more than 7%

Acid-insoluble ash – Not more than 1%

Alcohol-soluble extractive – Not less than 9%

Water-soluble extractive – Not less than 16%

Volatile oil – Not less than 2%

(Source: The Ayurvedic Pharmacopeia of India 1999)

11. Ayurvedic and Pharmacological Actions

Ayurvedic Action

Ayurvedic classics described sweet flag as brain tonic, emetic, voice promoter, purifies stool urine, analgesic, pacify cough and bronchitis, digestive, diuretic and rejuvenator.

  • Dohakarma - Kapha vatashamaka
  • Dhatukarma – Medhya, rasayana
  • Malakarma – Mala, mutra vishodhna.

Pharmacological Action

The rhizome is reported as intellect promoting, vamak, sedative, tranquilizer, anticonvulsant, expectorant, carminative, stomachic, antioxidant, anthelminthic, anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic, antimicorbal and insecticidal.

12. Health Benefits

Sweet flag is widely used in the treatment of constipation, flatulence, colic, insanity, epilepsy, heart disease, cystic swelling, edema, worm infestation, diarrhea, thrist, disease of oral cavity, paralysis, hysteria, loss of appetite, piles, indigestion, cold, cough, tonsilitis, urinary calculus, microbal infections, difficult labor, obesity.

Powdered rhizomes is also used for inducing vomiting in bronchitis, asthma, insomnia, convulsions, hysteria, loss of memory, neurosis, dyspepsia, skin disease, swollen joints, toothache and filariasis.

13. Therapeutic Uses

Asthma - Take 5-10 grams of root powder of sweet flag thrice a day, gives relief from asthma.

Common Cold - A small piece of root is roasted and powdered; a pinch of powder taken with honey gives relief from the common cold.

Mouth Ulcers - Take 5 grams root powder of Acorus Calamus and mix with honey, apply gently it on tongue and mouth skin, gives relief from mouth ulcers.

Stomach Disorder - The brunt root powder mixed with refined coconut oil, apply over the abdomen, gives relief from stomach disorder.

Whooping Cough - Take 5-6 grams of roasted powder of Acorus Calamus root and mix with honey, gives relief from whooping cough.

Belly And Thigh - Take 3 grams of each, Acorus Calamus root and Triphala powder, mix them and take with water, reduces fat on the belly and thigh.

Skin Infections - Take 5 grams powder of Acorus Calamus root and mix with rose water, apply it on the face. Give you glowing skin and control various skin infections.

Wound Cleansing – Decoction of Vacha mixed with camphor is used for cleansing of wounds and ulcers.

Obesity – The dry powder massage is beneficial in reducing excessive fat.

Acne Vulgaris – Local application of Lodhra, Dhanyaka, and Vacha paste removes acne.

Inflammatory Disease – Application of Vacha sarsapa paste remove edema.

To Induce Emesis – One to two grams Vacha powder with Lukewarm salt water induces vomiting, relieves phlegm and eases cough and asthma.

Memory Enhancer – Regular licking of Vacha powder with honey twice a day for 6 months enhances memory in newborn.

Asthma and Cough – Decoction of Vacha powder with honey is useful in cough, asthma, bronchitis, dyspepsia and tertian fever.

14. Official Part Used


15. Doses

Powder – 125 to 500mg

For inducing vaman – 1 to 2 gm

16. Side Effects

There are some adverse effects like disturbed digestion, gastroenteritis, persistent constipation followed by bleeding diarrhoea are observed in some cases.

17. Acorus Calamus Root Tea


  • Acorus Calamus Root Powder - 1 tsp
  • Green Tea – 1 tsp
  • Honey – ½ tsp
  • Water – 1 ½ cup
  • Clove – 1
  • Dry Ginger Powder – ¼ tsp


Take a pan and boil the water.

Add all the ingredients except honey, and boil for 2 minutes.

Pour the tea into a cup with the help of a tea strainer.

Mix the honey and drink hot.

18. Frequently Asked Question

Q - Is Acorus Calamus a medicinal plant?

Q - What is sweet flag used for?

Sweet flag has antibacterial, insecticidal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cellular properties, it is mainly used in Ayurveda for medicinal purposes. The dried and powdered rhizome has a spicy flavor and is used as a substitute for ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Q - How do I use Sweet Flag in cooking or herbal remedies?

Sweet Flag can be used in various ways in cooking or herbal remedies. The rhizomes of the plant can be dried and ground into a powder to use as a spice or flavoring agent in dishes like soups, stews, and curries. The powder can also be used to make capsules or tablets for medicinal purposes. Additionally, Sweet Flag can be used to make tea by steeping the rhizomes in hot water for several minutes.

Q - Can Sweet Flag help with anxiety and stress?

Sweet Flag has been traditionally used to help with anxiety and stress due to its calming and soothing effects on the mind. It contains a compound called beta-asarone, which is known to have sedative properties. However, more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness for anxiety and stress.

Q - How do I make Sweet Flag tea?

To make Sweet Flag tea, you will need dried Sweet Flag rhizomes. Boil water and add the rhizomes to it. Allow it to steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain the mixture and drink it warm. You can add honey or lemon to enhance the flavor.

Q - What is the scientific name for Sweet Flag?

The scientific name for Sweet Flag is Acorus calamus.

Q - What are the active compounds in Sweet Flag that contribute to its health benefits?

Sweet Flag contains several active compounds, including beta-asarone, acorenone, and asarone. These compounds are believed to contribute to the herb's anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and sedative effects.

Q - Is Sweet Flag effective in treating Alzheimer's or dementia?

There is some evidence to suggest that Sweet Flag may be beneficial for people with Alzheimer's or dementia due to its ability to enhance cognitive function. However, more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness in treating these conditions.

Q - How can Sweet Flag be used in aromatherapy?

Sweet Flag essential oil can be used in aromatherapy to help promote relaxation and reduce stress. It can be added to a diffuser or used in a massage oil or bath soak.

Q - What is the difference between Sweet Flag and Calamus?

There is no difference between Sweet Flag and Calamus. These terms are used interchangeably to refer to the same plant species, Acorus calamus.

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