PART USED: rhizomes

The properties of Calamus are almost entirely due to its volatile oil, obtained by steam distillation.

The oil is contained in all parts of the plant, though in greatest quantity in the rhizome, the leaves yielding to distillation 0.2 per cent, the fresh root 1.5 to 3.5 per cent.

The oil is strong and fragrant, its taste warm, bitterish, pungent and aromatic. Its active principles are taken up by boiling water. It is a thick, pale yellow liquid.

Little is known of its chemistry, though it possibly contains pinene and the chief aromatic constituent is asaryl aldehyde.

The rhizome also contains alkaloidal matter, mainly Choline (formerly thought to be a specific alkaloid, Calamine); soft resin, gum, starch and the bitter glucoside, Acorin, which is amorphous, semi-fluid, resinous, of neutral reaction, aromatic odor and bitter aromatic taste.

Calamus Oil is used in perfumery – an alcoholate is made with 3 kilos to 3.5 kilos of rhizome to 20 liters of 85 per cent alcohol.

Calamus was formerly much esteemed as an aromatic stimulant, regenerative, general and nervous tonic.

On account of the volatile oil that is present, it also acts as a carminative, removing the discomfort caused by flatulence and checking the growth of the bacteria which give rise to it.

It is used to increase the appetite and benefit digestion, given as fluid extract, infusion or tincture. Tincture of Calamus, obtained by macerating the finely cut rhizome in alcohol for seven days and filtering, is used as a stomachic and flavouring agent.

The dried root may be chewed to relieve dyspepsia or an infusion of 1 OZ. to 1 pint of boiling water may be taken freely in doses of a teacupful. The dried root is also chewed to clear the voice.

Calamus has been found useful in ague and low fever, either in infusion, or powdered. Its use has been attended with great success where Peruvian bark has failed. It is also beneficial as a mild stimulant in typhoid cases.

It is also one of the best herbs for purifying and revitalizing the brain and the nervous system as it stimulates cerebral circulation, increases sensibility and improves memory.


1. Take the root powder sublingually, 0,25- 0,5 g four times a day, every six hours. Keep the powder for 15-20 minutes, and then swallow it with some water and some natural honey.

2. The North American Indians recommend the following aphrodisiac recipe: 20 g of root rhizome, 10 g of black pepper in 250 ml of water. Boil slowly for 15 minutes. Leave for another 10 minutes and then filter. Drink 2-3 spoons before lovemaking. As boiling is reputed as destroying some of the active principles of the herbs, we recommend the macerate.

3. Prepare calamus syrup of 25-100 g rhizome powder and 1 kg natural honey.

4.Fresh calamus juice: take fresh roots, clean them carefully and place them in the juice-extractor. Take 5-10 ml daily.

5.The rhizomes are used as spices in cooking.

6. Prepare the macerate: mix the following herbs: milfoil – 0,5 parts, fennel – 2 parts, mint – 4 parts, chamomile – 2 parts, calamus – 1 part, linden tree flowers 0,5 parts. Take one spoon of the herbal mix and use for one cup of mineral or spring water. Drink after meals.

7. Macerate prepared from 15 g of rhizome powder in 200 ml of mineral or spring water. Filter and take 3-4 spoons a day.

8. Tincture made o 10 g of rhizome, left to macerate in 100 ml of ethylic alcohol for 8 days. Take 10 drops every day.

IMPORTANT NOTE: please respect precisely the dosages given here. Greater dosages cause nausea. The fresh rhizome causes vomiting, therefore you may combine it with fresh ginger, 2 parts calamus and 2 parts ginger for one cup of water and one teaspoon of honey.