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RAT ROOT

CALAMUS ROOT

SWEET FLAG

MUSKRAT ROOT

(Acorus americanus [Raf.] Raf)

(A. calamus auct.non L.)

(A. odoratus)

(A. aromaticus)

PARTS USED - root and leaves

 

 

It was the tall, sweet-scented Flag, Lay pictured there so true,

I could have deem’d some Fairy hand The faithful image drew.

The falchion-leaves, all long and sharp; The stem, like a tall leaf too,

Except where, half-way up its side, A cone-shaped flower-spike grew…

TWAMLEY

 

 

The flower is a long thing…of a greenish yellow color, curiously checkered, as if it were wrought with a needle with green and yellow silk intermixt.    GERARD

You are often more bitter than I can bear, You burn and sting me, yet you are beautiful to me your faint tinged roots            

WALT WHITMAN

Calamus is from the Greek KALAMOS or Arabic KALON meaning pen or reed, and originally from the Sanskrit KALAMAS. Kalamos was the son of the river god Maeander, who loved Karpos, the son of Zephyrus and Chloris. When Karpos drowned, Kalamos was transformed into a reed, whose rustling song is a sigh of lamentation. Vacha is the Sanskrit name for the plant meaning “power of the voice”.

Calamari, meaning squid from the Latin CALAMARIUM, “ink horn” or “pen case”; Calumet, another name for a Native Peace Pipe made from the hollow reed, and Chalumeau, the lower notes of a clarinet’s range, are all related words.

Acorus is from the Greek or Arabic AKORON from KORE or COREON for pupil of the eye. Andrzej Szczeklik writes. “The Greeks placed the soul elsewhere. They imagined it in the form of a little doll, visible through the pupil of the eye, which as a result they called the kore.” Kore is another name for Persephone, the Greek goddess.

This reedy, water plant is familiar to ponds, sloughs and permanently wet ground throughout the prairies.

At first glance it appears like a cattail; but on closer inspection it's true nature is revealed. Albertazzi et al, Molecular and General Genetics 1998 259:6 suggests that Sweet Flag might be the most ancient surviving representative of the ancestral monocotyledonous plants.

The plant is placed under the Moon, due to its half moon shape, watery nature and yellow colour of the inflorescence.

The plants has been prized and praised throughout the world; and we are most fortunate that the safest variety is our western North American asarone-free diploid (2n=24) type. This plant is said produce viable seed and was probably chosen for planting across western North America. It has 2-6 raised veins and a swollen centre to the leaf in cross section.

In China, the Moso sorcerers have used sweet flag in rituals for over 2000 years. During the 11th century, the Tatars moved sweet flag from India to Russia and Poland. They believed the plant purified drinking water, and so they carried and planted it in their new settlements.

Traditional Chinese Medicine uses calamus root, SHIH CHANG PU, to treat deafness, dizziness, and epilepsy. Other names include PAI CH’ANG-P’U, white calamus, and CHIEN CH’ANG-P’U, sword calamus.

It is highly prized for the ability to restore speech after a stroke. Studies from China show its value in lowering blood pressure, clearing lungs, and killing bacteria. The leaves of sweet flag and mugwort are used as a charm during the dragon boat festival, and on the 5th day of the 5th month, the leaves are hung on doors to ward off evil spirits.

Remains of sweet flag have been found in the tomb of King Tut. Several Egyptian perfume and unguent recipes contain the fragrant calamus root, including the famous kyphi. Hebrew tradition pressed oil from the roots for application in the Tabernacle.

Mongolian traditional medicine uses tea and tincture as a tonic, appetizer, and to treat stomachache, intestinal disorders, and some skin diseases. It is used as a snuff powder in Tibet.

In Japan, the plant symbolizes a Samurai’s bravery, due to the sword like leaves. On May 5th, during the Boy’s Festival (Tango no Sekku), many families enjoy the Sweet Flag Bath or Shobu Yu.

In India, the related A. angustatus is promoted as an herb that improves mental focus, and reduces epileptic seizures. The root, combined with cardamom, helps the digestion of dairy products. In Ayurvedic medicine, the herb is known as PUVACHA.

Vacha means literally “speak” and is descriptive of the self- expression or intelligence stimulated by the plant. It is found in Indian and Tibetan incense mixtures for its illuminating and strengthening effect on the mind, strengthening of nerves and increase of meditative powers. According to Lad and Frawley it is “nourishment for the Kundalini serpent”. It relieves anxiety, and may be worth trying in cases of OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The Arabian physician Ibn Al-Baitar, in his Collection of Simple Remedies (ca 1225 BC), recommended Calamus as it "warms up blood and is useful for cold temperaments".

Calamus was widely prized for warding off the black plague, and its use in a variety of contagious disease can be traced back to Byzantine medicine.

The Old English Herbarium translated into Anglo-Saxon over a millennium ago, recommended Calamus root simmered down to two thirds in water and given for three days to those that cannot urinate.

During the Crimean War of 1854, the allied French and British armies were recommended to take calamus root against marsh pestilence, as quinine was in short supply.

Cathedrals and other places of worship throughout the world have strewn the leaves on the floor in order to scent and purify. The leaves have a smell mildly like tangerine peel, with a vanilla undertone.

It is much mentioned in the Bible, and was immortalized by the mystic poet, Walt Whitman, in his famous Leaves of Grass.

Forty-five ballads under the Calamus chapter were symbolic of the love of male comrades, adhesiveness and personal attachment.

Calamus has long symbolized male love, perhaps due in part, to the symbolic penis-like spathe.

The leaf buds are a good edible as are the flowers. Children of Holland chew the root like a gum.

In Lithuania, the rhizome is soaked in brandy, and used for chest pains and diarrhea. The leaves are added to hot baths to relieve pain, gout and rheumatism.

Indeed, the root is a good ginger or cinnamon substitute in many recipes. Candied roots, made by boiling sliced roots in maple syrup, are just like ginger in taste and use. Benedictine and Chartreuse liqueurs, various beers, Vermouth de Turin and gin all use calamus oil for flavouring at rates from 10-30 ppm. The root was a one time used to flavour beer and give it a clear appearance. For schnapps and other liqueurs produced in Germany, the asarone content cannot exceed one mg/litre. Stockton Bitters, a tonic medicine from England, contains calamus and gentian root.

The leaves were used as a base for baking bread throughout Eastern Europe. The inner stem was widely eaten.

The leaves make a great seasoning in fish soups and stews. Calamus root and mint leaves make interesting vinegar, as does the leaf essential oil.

The root powder has been substituted for orris root as a fixative in tooth and hair powders, dry shampoos; as well as the French snuff a la violette.

The Cree of Northern Alberta make great use of this muskrat food, or WACHASKOMECHIWIN. It is known as rat root or muskrat root, WACASKWATAPIH, or simply WIHKES or WIYIKIYO. The Eastern Ojibwa name is very similar, WIKE, or WEE-KEES.

Cree around Hudson Bay, call it fire or bitter pepper root, or POW E MEN ARTIC.

The Chipewyan also call it muskrat food, or DZEN NI. Muskrat is a traditionally favourite food of many northern tribes. The muskrat feeds heavily on calamus, and its rich, dark winter meat is so highly scented, it is said eating the cooked meat is like ingesting a valuable medicine. I find myself humming the song Muskrat Love, while gathering the root in late summer at the annual Rat Root Rendezvous west of Edmonton.

The root is gathered and used for colds, headaches, and other stomach complaints. The weekend is also a good excuse for wilderness and survival guides, wildcrafters and others to get together for a casual weekend.

The root is slowly chewed and used to overcome fatigue on long journeys. It cuts phlegm and is used in relieving asthma. For cramped arms and legs, paralyzed limbs or rheumatic swellings, poultices or hot fomentations are applied to affected areas.

It is often chewed for diabetes, or held in the throat for a long time to "get rid of the tonsils by burning them off."

For earache, a small piece of root is softened in water and inserted in ear. Not too far in!

The Dene smudge dried rat root and inhale the smoke for headaches. The crushed root is boiled and cooled for stomachache and to help pass pinworms. Some Dogrib or Dene healers say that rat root should not be taken within a few hours of modern medicines.

Native drummers will often tie a string on the root and hang it around their neck. They can then chew and suck on it to keep their singing voices strong hour after hour, hence the name Drummer's or Singer’s root. The dried root resembles the trachea, in the doctrine of signatures.

The Blood called it POW-E-MEN-ARTIC or fire root, and used it to relieve coughs and treat liver ailments. The Blackfoot had to trade for the root and used it with tobacco as a smoking mixture, or alone as an abortifacient.

The Sioux and Dakota chewed calamus root and rubbed the paste on their faces to prevent excitement and fear.

Others mixed oil with the burnt root for flatulence and colic.

The roots are said to yield a mildly hallucinogenic property if taken in excess. Two inches of the root is medicinal; while eight is considered bordering on an unknown journey. I have never found that to be the case personally. This is based on the beta asarone rich root found elsewhere, I believe.

On the Sisseton Indian reservation in South Dakota, rat root and another unspecified root are boiled together as a tea to take the place of insulin, or simply chewed to treat high blood sugar levels.

The Chippewa combined roots of wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) and calamus in decoction for soaking their fishing nets. Another combination was calamus root, prickly ash bark, sassafras, and wild ginger root for colds and bronchitis.

Chippewa used the root as a mordant with bloodroot for dyeing.

Various tribes, including the Omaha and Sioux used the root powder, or infusions for their horses as a race stimulant; and made aromatic garlands of the leaves. The Omaha and Ponca name is MAKAN NINIDA, while the Osage name PEXE BOAO'KA, means flat herb.

John Lame Deer, a Lakota healer had this to say. “SINKPE TAWOTE - that's muskrat food, sweet flag, one of our busiest medicines. It has bitter roots that are very good against a fever. When you grind them up and mix them with gunpowder they are a help against cramps in the arms and legs.”

The Iroquois used the root in a variety of ways and in different combination. The powdered root in hot infusion for colds and chills, the powdered root in cold water for indigestion.

The root was combined with water milfoil for slow circulation and adolescents, with plantain root for painful breathing, and with arrowhead root for night crying by babies and young children.

The Algonquin combined the root tea with chokecherry bark for coughs. The Ojibwa used the root medicinally and call it POWEMENARCTIC, or muskrat root. Note the extreme similarity to the Blood name.

The Cheyenne call it bitter medicine, or WI'UKH IS E'EVO, and traded with their Sioux neighbors for the root. They tied a small piece on their children's necklace for both protection from night spirits and for numbing teething pain. They also tossed pieces of the root on glowing rocks in the sweat lodge for cleansing purpose. The powdered root was combined with bark of red osier dogwood in smoking mixtures.

It was known as a “ghost medicine” with the power to ward off evil.

The leaves were also braided or added to baby bundles for good luck and as an aromatic insecticide. The innermost tender leaf is edible as is the flower bud before flowering.

The Pawnee name is KAHTSHA ITU, meaning "medicine lying in water". The young green blades were braided into fragrant neck garlands.

The Lakota name SINKE TAWOTE means “muskrat food”. The specific name for the root SUNKACE meaning “dog penis” refers to the phallic shape of the flower.

Ayurvedic physicians use calamus root as a specific for schizophrenia.

In Brazil, the root is considered anthelmintic, while in neighboring Argentina, the root is given to relieve painful menstruation.

Nine worldwide plant patents exist, including shampoo, toothpaste, liqueurs, and treating diarrhea and flatulence in farm animals.

The dried powder can be used with birds to get rid of lice, killing them off in 12 hours. The root infusion is used in India to wash newborn calves for protection against insects and disease.

When the root is very dry, you can ignite one end, and breath the smoke for headaches, and stuffy colds.

Work by one student of Dr. Robin Marles showed that straight linear cuts through patches for wild crafted calamus root is the most efficacious for regeneration, versus the clearcut approach.

Commercial planting will produce over a ton of root per acre.

Several authors have mentioned that mosquitoes are not found in water where calamus is found. I believe they are right!

 

 

MEDICINAL

CONSTITUENTS - root- 243 components including mainly sesquiterpene and monoterpenes ketones, acorone 5246 ppm, aconic and acoric acid, mucilage, bitters, tannins, choline, essential oils, acorin, acoretin, galangin, furfural, shyobunone and iso-shyobunone.

Also includes 6-epishyobunone, 2,6-diepishyobunone, acorafuran, acorone, acoragermacrone, isoacoranone, and acorenone, geranylacetate, and small amounts of calamendiols.

Beta asarone (cis-isoasarone) may or may not be present in diploid type; and if so at extremely low percentage. Alpha asarone may be present in low amounts, and amines, such as dimethyl-amine, methyl amine, trimethylamine as well as choline are also present.

Aerial - tropone, beta curcumene, acolamone, acoragermacrone, acoric acid, acorine, ascorbic acid, borneol, calarene, delta-guazulene, dimethylamine, mycrene, saponins, tannins, trans anethole, trimethylamine.

Calamus root is used, as a cold infusion, for all manner of digestive complaints, including hyperacidity. It stimulates the salivary glands, and yet counteracts acidity and reduces heartburn and gas; combining well with meadowsweet or queen of the meadow.

Cold infusions of the root help pancreatic function, one sip before and one sip after meals three times daily, in cases of mild late onset diabetes.

It is highly prized for its specific action on stomach cancer, working in a similar manner to condurango vine of South America.

In Europe, our calamus root is much prized for this purpose, and warrants further investigation.

Small pieces can be chewed for helping kick addiction such as nicotine.

When chewed, the juice released causes nausea and works as an aversion therapy. It also affects the brain during withdrawal from cocaine, marijuana, heroin and morphine. During this time, addicts experience intense craving, nausea and vomiting, that acorus can help modify. Later, when the brain can be stimulated by wheat, meat and milk, acorus seems to enable the process by which the brain recognizes these non-drug opiates.

The herbalist 7Song suggests chewing the root is good for a pot hangover. Matthew Wood writes of cases where it appears palliative in Alzheimer’s disease.

Small pieces of dried root relieve toothache and teething pain in young children.

Tincture of the fresh root is a good parasiticide applied to the skin for treating lice, scabies and crabs. The root is powdered and rubbed into affected areas. A hot poultice of the mashed or powdered root can be applied to injured extremities where circulation is impaired and tissue damage severe.

It is most useful in metabolic sluggishness, where there is an accumulation of toxins. Like Bogbean, it is a gentle, cleansing herb. Calamus root is good for digestive stagnation, associated with gas, bloating, eructation and congestion.

A body temperature enema can be helpful in rectal pains associated with hemorrhoids, bleeding or inflammation. Be careful with irritable bowel, as the root is not demulcent.

Individuals with low grade annoying fevers, and poor vital energy will like this herb. Choline counteracts excessive cholesterol and the manner in which arteries handle its potential buildup.

Sweet flag helps promote menses delayed by chilled or exhausted dispositions. Decoctions are useful in muscle spasms, restlessness and insomnia, as well as sedative to the central nervous system.

Acoric acid is a sesquiterpene with hypotensive properties. Other authors have speculated that the high levels of organic potassium help relieve asthma, hay fever, hiccups and even muscular dystrophy. This is too simple an explanation.

The asarone-free genotype of calamus showed anti-spasmodic properties on par with standard antihistamines, in a study by Keller et al Planta Medica 1985 1 6-9. Other calamus genotypes do not have this property. Work by Gilani et al, Phyto Res 2006 20:12 confirmed this anti-spasmodic nature and suggested the activity was calcium channel-like in nature. It has shown to be anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, but not anti-viral.

Scientists have identified other compounds in acorus that act on the body chemicals other than histamine, to stop bronchial constriction during asthmatic attacks.

Methyl isoeugenol, for example is an expectorant, anti-spasmodic, anti-histaminic and anti-bacterial. Shah et al, J Ethnopharm 131:2 determined broncho-dilating activity.

It makes a stimulating morning bath; showing the different effect gained by external vs. internal application. Baths are very useful for general exhaustion during convalescence, anemia and diabetic conditions.

Gary Raven, a traditional healer from Manitoba, recommends calamus, wild licorice and white water lily root be grated and used as a tea to treat diabetes. Small slices can be chewed to treat high cholesterol. Work by Parab and Mengi, Fitoterapia 2002 73:6 on the Indian variety showed significant hypolipidemic activity.

Rau et al, Pharmazie 2006 61:11 found calamus root very active on the human peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor associated with fat and blood sugar regulation.

Other herbs showing similar activity include corn silk, cayenne, water plantain and stinging nettle.

Work by Acuna et al, on our North American calamus, found high anti-oxidant activity in ethanol extracts of the rhizome. Phytother Res 2002 16:1.

A substance other than beta-asarone in calamus root, extracted by ethyl acetate, enhances adipocyte differentiation and may have benefit the treatment of type 2 diabetic conditions. It appears to have a rosiglitazone-like activity. Wu et al, Phytother Res 21:6.

Calamus root appears to decrease serum glucose and triglycerides, and increase insulin sensitivity in genetically obese mice. Wu et al, J Ethnopharm 2009 123:2.

Tis Mal Crow, a Native American root doctor, uses Calamus root as an activator or accelerator that increases the potency of other herbs. He believes it should only be added in one part to 32 parts of other herbs, or the mixture may be dangerously strong. Calamus is used specifically with white flowered medicines for this purpose; violet leaves for green medicines.

Work by Acuna et al, Phytotherapy Research 2002 16:1 found North American calamus extracts to possess high anti-oxidant activity.

Calamus root protects brain tissue from free radicals produced by excessive oxygen. This can occur in various brain related disorders, including stroke, where a restored flow of oxygen to previously deprived cells can cause brain tissue damage. A formula of calamus root and Oriental Cedar seed (Thuja orientalis), as well as Figwort, Lycium fruit and Licorice root is used in TCM for ADD, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

It may be useful in preventing epileptic activity. Hazra et al, Human Exp Toxicol 2007 26:12.

Acorus root lectins have been identified by Bains et al, Int Immunopharm 2005 5:9 and show significant inhibition of J774, a murine macrophage cancer cell line, and to a lesser extent a B cell lymphoma. Shulka et al, Phytother Res 2002 16 found Acorus calamus protects against acrylamide-induced neuro-toxicity.

High fat, fried foods such as french fries and charred meat create acrylamides. Chew a piece of the root before or after a poutine or barbecue indulgence.

Work by Parab et al, Fitoterapia 2002 73:6 found saponins and ethanol extracts in the root demonstrate significant hypolipidemic activity.

Mehorotra et al, Int Immunopharm 2003 3:1 found calamus root extracts demonstrate both anti-proliferative and immuno-suppressive potential in vitro.

The leaves of A. calamus inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokine release and may be useful for treating skin disease. Kim et al, J Ethnopharm 2009 122:1.

TMA-2, a controlled drug in the United States, is a hallucinogen with at least ten times the potency of mescaline. Asarone is naturally converted to TMA-2 in the body by amination shortly after ingestion. This only occurs when either alpha or beta asarone is present, however. In chemical structure alpha asarone is similar to mescaline, from the peyote cactus, while beta asarone is more chemically like myristicin and compounds in kava kava. The wild, western North American root contains little of either asarone. It appears that European roots have been planted and are taking hold in the northeastern United States. This introduced cytotype does contain asarone derivatives.

Beta asarone may be of benefit in cognitive impairment including Alzheimer’s disease. Geng et al, Biol Pharm Bull 2010 33:5. It is also toxic.

 

 

ESSENTIAL OIL

CONSTITUENTS - A. americanus- shyobunone, isoshyobunone (8-13%), beta-farnesene, methyl eugenol, calamenen (4%), beta sesquiphellandrene (3%), pre-isocalamenediol (7%), calamenol (5%), cadinol, linalool, calamone, azulene, camphor, acolamone, pinene, acorone (11%), acorenone (0-18%), asaraldehyde and cineole among 243 recorded volatile components. Up to 26% acorone may also be present in dried roots. The aldehyde with characteristic odour is (Z, Z)-4,7-decadienal (C10H16O). Its concentration in the oil is 500 ppm, and the odour threshold value 4.2 ppb. The concentration is about 100,000 times its odour threshold, indicating the importance of this compound to overall odour composition.

Steam distillation of the fresh root yields a reddish volatile oil (up to 6%) that is heavy, earthy, and slightly sweet with bitter undertones. It is described by some writers as resembling dried milk and sweet leather, and compared to the fragrance of a milk-truck or a shoe repair shop by authors like Arctander.

The oil from fresh rhizomes is finer and more soluble in weak alcohol. In my own distillations, at 40% moisture, the yield is about 0.7%. The fresh rhizome oil of asarone-free calamus is very difficult to find on the world market and definitely has a demand.

The outer rhizome peel contains the most essential oil, and should not be peeled for distillation.

Oil from the leaves is a straw yellow camphorous product containing butyric and oenanthylic acids as esters. Yield is about 0.5-1% from leaves.

Calamus oil was used by Egyptians in ointment given to Moses that contained myrrh, cinnamon, and cassia in olive oil.

Its mind-altering effects are used for meditation and psychic development and in perfume blends for smooth middle notes. The North American fragrance market presently uses over $30 million of imported oils annually.

Beta-asarone is low or undetectable in the diploid cytotype North American oil. Keller et al, Planta Medica 1983 47:2.

It can be used for congested kidneys and bladder infections. Bronchitis and asthmatic complaints where there is need for anti- bacterial and anti-spasmodic properties suggests using calamus oil.

Isoasarone free oil from Canadian calamus exhibits anti-spasmodic effect, while oils from Indian Calamus, containing up to 96% isoasarone, have no spasmolytic effect.

The essential oil of diploid calamus has anti-spasmodic action not found in the other varieties, according to studies by Locock, Can Pharm Journal 1987 120.

Either steam or rub the oil in a vegetable oil into the chest to achieve this calming effect. Massages relax tense and sore muscles; tired feet and varicose veins feel rejuvenated and toned. For a footbath use calamus oil and a dispersant in hot water or a few drops of oil in a hot bath to relieve menopausal hot flashes.

Although no studies have been conducted on the olfactory effect of our native diploid essential oil, work by Koo et al, Biol Pharm Bull 2003 26:7 looked at the effect of fragrance inhalation of A. gramineus root essential oil. Significant sedative and anti-convulsant effect was noted, and increased GABA levels in the brain.

The scent prolonged sleeping time in a dose dependent manner. Studies on our native species would be useful.

Calamus oil is mixed in silverweed tincture as a mouthwash for gingivitis.

It is a digestive and biliary stimulant, useful in anorexia, gas pains and digestive spasms. The oil clears phlegm in the gastrointestinal tract and calms nervous problems such as vertigo and tension headaches. The oil will also assist those with intermittent fevers, and is mildly vermifuge in action.

It has been noted that considerable amounts of heat are given off at the time of flowering. Perhaps the flowers could be experimentally distilled and investigated further.

Studies in the Czech Republic found that the essential oil content was higher in the spring (0.8-2.6%), than in the fall (1.0-1.8%). Although it may not be relevant to North America, the same researchers found a close negative relationship between essential oil content and the concentration of calcium in the water and the pH of the substrate.

Work by Stahl et al, Planta Med 47:2 found CO2 extraction retained more of the bitter and sesquiterpene components.

Work in Russia found rhizomes and roots dried in the sun yielded 10% and 30% less essential oil respectively than plant material dried in the shade.

Calamus root oil is often combined with catnip oil, and beaver castor as a muskrat lure.

Work by Bertea et al, Phytochemistry 2005 66:5 developed a good sequence analysis to distinguish the diploid type from other.

This would be useful to industry and government in helping our native root take its rightful place as a useful medicinal herb.

The supercritical carbon dioxide extraction yields oil containing acorone and isoacorone (37%) acoragermacrone (12%) acorenone (6%) and shyobunone isomers (2%). Acoragermacrone usually degrades to shyobunone in steam distillation.

 

HYDROSOL

The hydrosol of dried Canadian calamus root is masculine and earthy, while the fresh root is similar but even greener. I like both, but many people find it too intense. The pH is 4.6.

Suzanne Catty says, in her excellent book says "the hydrosol makes a gently astringent aftershave on its own or combined with sandalwood, cedar wood or bay laurel.

It probably has some benefit in various digestive problems concerning the liver, stomach and pancreas, and is worthy of further research."

 

PLANT OILS

Calamus stems contain lipid fractions composed of 64.5% neutral lipids, 28% glyco-lipids, and 7.3% phospholipids.

The root contains similar phospholipids, but 11% more neutral lipids and similar drop in glyco-lipid content.

Palmitic acid predominates both glyco- and phospholipid content, while linolenic acid predominates in the leaves and stems. Yield of total lipids in leaf is about 2.9%

Palmitoleinic acid is concentrated mainly in the neutral fraction of the root. Total root lipids are 5.6%.

 

FLOWER ESSENCES

The plant signature of calamus is somewhat complex and esoteric, breaking down into threes and sixes. These numbers are associated with the mind, body and spirit-which the flower essence treats. There is a remarkable resemblance between the human aura, and the stamen and ovaries of the plant.

The flower essence integrates by merging the mental, emotional and etheric bodies.

This activity makes Sweet Flag an enhancer of other flower essences, and especially useful in schizophrenia.

Consider this essence for extremes of anxiety, stress, or fear; especially if the issues involve death. Practitioners in the hospice movement would benefit from the use of this essence. It physically stimulates capillary action by penetrating the ductless gland system.

Make use of the essence for preparing animals for stress, like car rides and new homes. Plants being transplanted would benefit from watering containing the calamus flower essence.    GURUDAS

Sweet Flag flower essence brings you strength for new beginnings. It affects the brow and the heart and helps to unravel cross energies that cause a buildup above the throat and the abdomen.    OLIVE

Calamus flower essence is helpful to those individuals who have difficulty with temperature regulation. Cold or hot night sweats, menopausal flushes; or individuals who experience one-sided heat or cold in body would benefit.

Also, individuals who have noticeable heat loss from the head, or who are sulphur types homeopathically, may find this flower essence especially useful.    PRAIRIE DEVA

 

 

MYTHS AND LEGENDS

It is said that in the old days, the Penobscot people were suffering from a great plague. Many were ill, many had died. One of the leaders, severely troubled about the illness sweeping his people, prayed to the Creator for help. That night, the Muskrat appeared to him in his dreams.

"You have prayed for help for your people", said the Muskrat, " and I have come to help you. Look carefully and remember."

The man looked closely and saw the Muskrat turn himself into a plant. He examined the plant closely until he knew it well. He looked deeper and saw that the spirit and power of the Muskrat was contained within the root of the plant and thus knew that this was the part of the plant he was to use.

When he awoke, he dressed and traveled to the place where he have been shown the plant would be found. There he dug it up and made medicine for his people. In this way the Penobscot people were healed and sweet flag, muskrat root came to the people.                 PENOBSCOT TALE

 

SPIRITUAL PROPERTIES

Kore is the Ancient Greek word for a girl, and also for the pupil of the eye. The Greeks said that the soul was visible in the form of a little girl, through the pupil. How could they have know that the pupil is the one and only tiny window that gives a view of the brain and of the ocular nerves?           ANDRZEJ SZCZEKLIK

If you find yourself worrying about your finances, cut up the dried roots and place them in the corners of the rooms of your house to ensure yourself of always having more than enough money. The dried root can be used in incense to encourage spiritual, emotional and physical healing.          S. GREGG

 

PERSONALITY TRAITS

Calamus is another good doctrine of signatures plant. It grows in the swamp or bog in really smelly and sulfurous places, the coldest, dankest part of the swamp. The root also looks like a larynx. This shows us that it is good for colds and congestion, breaks up phlegm, and is good for the throat and voice.          TIS MAL CROW

Sweet flag is generally considered a stomach tonic and appetite increaser. Many time addicted patients have to go through a waking up period, realizing the ramifications of what they have been living and to begin to change their minds. Sweet flag is gentle in its action and seems to really help bring about a change of consciousness. It will help bring about a stronger sense of resolve for the patient and their decision to change things.          K. PROEFROCK ND

A woman in her fifties fell down a mountainside and sustained a head injury. She was extremely debilitated, to the point where she would get lost for hours two blocks from home. We tried peony root without success and then Calamus.

She said the effect was immediate, profound, and highly beneficial. Each time she took the tincture, the plant seemed to say to her “Concentrate.” It taught her a new and different way of thinking and rescued her from an almost helpless state.  

WOOD

 

 

BOTANICA POETICA

Calamus to calm you down A G. I. tonic quite renown If colic is the situation Spasm or nervous tension

Relax and soothe, it’s known to do A G. I. cramp it will undo

Volatile oils there are within Reducing flatulence therein Ulcer, gastritis, a poor appetite

Sweet Flag helps to set things right A demulcent to coat and soothe Dyspepsia you could improve

It’s a spice that clears the mind Better focus you will find

To quit tobacco, ease the hype For the excited nervous type

But here’s a piece a sound advice Don’t abuse this bitter spice

Not high dose, not continuous Otherwise it’s dangerous

So when you think of Calamus

Think aromatic bitter, par excellence!

SYLVIA CHATROUX MD

 

 

RECIPES

 

COLD INFUSION - This is necessary as heat and boiling destroy some vital properties. Soak one ounce of chopped fresh or dried root in a pint of water overnight. Gently warm in morning and use one half cup before meals.

TINCTURE - twenty to thirty drops up to three times daily. Small amounts reduce stomach acidity, while larger doses increase acid production. Make a fresh root tincture at 70% at 1:2, or from the dried at 1:4 and 50% alcohol.

ESSENTIAL OIL - 2-3 drops twice daily. If used externally, dilute with carrier oil. It works like arnica for relieving deep pain. Do not use during pregnancy.

DECOCTION - for bath- Bring one ounce of root to simmer in one quart of water. Simmer twenty minutes. Strain and add to a hot bath for nervous exhaustion.

For enema, use only 2 tsp of dried root to 150 ml of water. Strain and cool to body temperature. Work by Chen et al, Planta Medica 2009 June 8 found a one hour decoction reduced beta asarone in European roots by 85%.

CAUTION - Avoid during pregnancy. It is worthy of note, that the European calamus, that contains up to 15% beta-asarone is considered free of side effects or health hazards, by the PDR for Herbal Medicines, when taken in therapeutic doses.

There is considerable confusion over the viability of A. americanus seeds. I have never been able to germinate seeds from northern Alberta, but numerous authors cite the species seeds are fertile.

The original studies by Taylor, Gross et al, Tox Appl Pharm 1967 10 405 fed rats a diet containing 5000 ppm of Asian calamus oil, until they formed malignant intestinal tumors. So what?

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