Calamus is an ancient herb used all over the world. It is respected for being an aid to digestive issues, brain, sugar, etc. Find out what are the benefits of this herb in this article.
Our digestions have taken a huge hit, thanks to the modern day human's lifestyle and eating habits. Add to this the toxic gmos that are ripping apart our cells' normal functioning and then, we add some really red-flag inflammatory foods like dairy, gluten and meat - no wonder, humans have created havoc on their digestion and are now paying the brutal price of never-ending search for answers and better, more natural, holistic cures like herbs, and their oils.
One herb of many benefits is calamus that grows in wetlands, marshes, and swamps. It is an aromatic plant and comes from the family Acoraceae. This beautiful herb, calamus (Acorus calamus), is called by many different names - sweet flag or sweet root, bitter root or sweet myrtle in English, vasambu in Tamil, bach in Hindi, and vacha in Sanskrit. Generally it's roots are used in herbal medicine.
Used all over the world, calamus is also one of the most loved herbs in Ayurveda. American Indians to Europeans to Russians, Siberians, Indians, Egyptians, Turkish and Chinese - all have used this herb since thousands of centuries. In fact, calamus is even mentioned in the Bible. Calamus was mentioned in Chester Beatty papyrus VI around 1300 BC. In fact, in 17th century, this beloved herb almost went extinct due to high demand and over-harvesting. Calamus was used for perfumes, for bitters (e.g. Stockton bitters), alcohol, and as a flavor for foods.
Almost everyone in Indian villages knows of this herb and its qualities to help with digestive disorders, and many more. It is said that it is impossible to find a single person in Indian villages that won't know of this herb.
But more than anyone, be it Indians, due to Ayurveda, or Europeans or any other countrymen, it was and is, the Native Americans who worshiped, loved, and respected calamus more than anyone and considered the herb sacred.
Back in the day, calamus leaves would be thrown on the floors for their aroma and to create a scent in the room. Another way calamus was used was by the foragers - they would use it as a spice and also chew on it for its bitter yet spicy taste.
Now that you are curious to learn more about this herb, let's start the article and you will see why it is so popular in India and all over the world.
Benefits of Calamus -
Calamus for Digestive Issues - Calamus is used a lot for gastrointestinal issues - from flatulence to intestinal permeability. Calamus is considered a carminative herb - a herb that relieves flatulence.
Because it is both spicy and bitter, it is one of the best herbs for digestion. We know that for good digestion, we need the support of warming spices and bitter juices - calamus has both. Because it is carminative, it keeps watch on the bacteria that gives rise to the flatulence and helps eliminate the problem - in this case, the bad bacteria. Calamus is also used for appetite loss (anorexia), indigestion, gastritis (inflammation of the intestinal lining) and ulcers. Calamus also help stimulate the digestive juices - thus leading to peristalsis. However, calamus is NOT a herb to relieve diarrhea or loose stools kind of state.
Calamus for Heartburn & Nausea - Calamus is considered a great herb for heartburn. This could be due to its spicy nature - spices are warm and stimulating to the blood circulation, hence, helping ease the heartburn somewhat and in turn, treat nausea. This is also related to its excellent digestive properties and therefore, it is a great aid for nausea and heartburn.
Calamus for Diabetes - Perhaps one of the greatest use of calamus by Native Americans is because of diabetes. Adult onset diabetes is widespread among Native Indians and when, white doctors could not cure them, the Native Indians turned to calamus and cured themselves! This could be because calamus is known to increase insulin sensitivity but of course, just taking calamus without changing your diet and lifestyle will not work. However, this is some powerful information for those with sugar issues - calamus can be a great aid for the diabetics.
Calamus for Sleep & as a Calming Herb - Calamus is used as a calming support and to induce a good night's sleep. While the folklore is that calamus is hallucunogenic, but this is far from the truth, unless of course maybe if one plans on eating the entire farm of calamus in a day or two! Calamus is grounding - it is not to get you on a high zone and take you to some fantasy land. No. It creates more awareness, sense of well-being and feelings of being centered.
Calamus for Coughs & as a Anti-Histamine - Calamus is a bitter herb and therefore, it is a natural anti-histamine. It is great for sore throat, coughs, cold, headaches, migraines, stuffy noses, nasal polyps, stuttering, etc as it helps to flush out excess mucous. Calamus is used by singers to assist with vocal chords inflammation and to help with laryngitis.
Calamus for Memory & as a Brain Tonic - Native Indians believed in calamus as a great herb for brain health. It has been used for memory improvement as well as in enhancing learning ability. Due to its relaxing qualities, it is used to combat stress, fight brain inflammation, attention deficit disorder, aids blood circulation and help prevent oxidative damage to the brain. In Ayurveda also, calamus is considered as a brain tonic - it nourishes the brain tissues, and enhances the nervous functions. In Ayurveda, calamus is also significant spiritually as it is considered one of the best herbs for opening the chakras to higher dimensions. Calamus is often used by students to enhance memory during examination time and to assist in mental focus and concentration.
Calamus for Stamina - Last but not least, Native Americans used calamus for stamina, just the same way the South Americans used coco leaves and powder.
Best time to take Calamus -
No specific time. For sleep, anxiety, panic type conditions, take it few hours before bed and see. For travelling trips and to avoid nausea, take it few hours before the trip. Start calamus few weeks ahead so that you get used to it and you know how long it takes to work in your body and what are the effects of it in your body (too relaxed or too sleepy or too much digestive stimulation, etc). Calamus should only be taken in very small amounts as it may stimulate the digestion too much, thus leading to vomiting - the opposite effect of trying to relieve nausea.
How to take Calamus -
Cold Infusion - You can get fresh roots of calamus and then let them steep in regular water or cold water overnight. Drink this over the next day or the week - as you wish.
Chewing the Roots - Calamus roots are directly taken in the mouth and chewed for their bitters. This way you get all the qualities of the plant in the root and thus, all its benefits. Only about half a tablespoon's worth to start with and I would not suggest more than that. It is bitter and well, adapt to it before having a binge party on calamus! For nausea related conditions, it is best to chew the calamus - only start with 1/2 teaspoon.
Candied Roots - The root is also prepared by making it sweet. This is done by putting the root in sweet syrup, draining the excess and then drying it. This is excellent for indigestion.
Tinctures - Alternatively, you can just buy calamus tincture and go that way! Much easier option and still potent - but nothing like chewing on the fresh or dried roots.
Who should NOT take Calamus -
If you are pregnant, nursing or taking medications, it is best to work with your holistic doctor and then decide. Do NOT take herbs without consulting with your doctor. People with heart problems and those with low blood pressure should NOT take calamus without consulting the doctor.
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