Common name: swordroot.
Parts used: rhizome (without adventitious roots). For ingestion, only the rhizome, peeled from the bark, is used for baths, unpeeled (bath calamus).
Pharmacy name: calamus rhizome – Calami rhizoma (formerly: Rhizoma Calami), calamus oil Calami aetheroleum (formerly: Oleum Calami).
Botanical description. This herbaceous perennial lives in very wet soil, strengthening it with its branched rhizome up to 3 cm in thickness. From the lower side of the rhizome, numerous adventitious roots depart, with which the plant absorbs nutrients, and up from the rhizome, calamus throws out xiphoid leaves, over 1 m in length. In June-July, on a peduncle, very similar to leaves, an inflorescence appears in the form of an ear, which, although it forms small, inconspicuous greenish flowers, does not produce fruits in German conditions. Reproduction is carried out vegetatively (rhizomes). In Germany, calamus begins to be mentioned only from 1560. It can be found along the banks of ponds, in swampy ditches and swamps, marshy forests.
Collection and preparation. It is not easy to find calamus, and even more so to collect it in more or less significant quantities. Therefore, large farms have been created that plant calamus rhizomes in order to obtain powerful plants from them. From June to July, and in plantings and later (at the beginning of autumn), the rhizomes are dug up. After a thorough cleansing, they are cut lengthwise, repeatedly cut into pieces 10-20 cm long and laid out in a shaded place to dry. If you need calamus for ingestion, it makes sense to peel the rhizome from the bark before drying.
Active ingredients: essential oil with (3-azarone and bitterness. In addition, tannins, which are found in a smaller amount, seem to have a certain activity. Vitamins, minerals, protein and starch, traditionally included in the composition of rhizomes, in calamus, from the point view of their action, are only concomitant substances.
Healing action and application.Calamus belongs to the group of aromatic bitterness and therefore is applicable for gastrointestinal diseases and diseases of the biliary system, with loss of appetite and for a general increase in the tone of the digestive tract. Especially good calamus helps with gastrointestinal diseases, the cause of which should be sought in the autonomic nervous system. Such patients – traditionally thin, almost dystrophic – complain that they do not often have a good appetite, and if it does, it disappears as soon as they sit down at the table. They eat extremely slowly and rejoice at any pause that occurs in the process of eating, and therefore they always “lag” at the table behind everyone. After eating, they complain of a feeling of heaviness, pressure in the stomach, sometimes spasmodic pains, and often sour eructations. Diarrhea and constipation alternate. There are, however, periods when they do not suffer at all from their affliction, until some business of haste and excitement, or personal hardships, do not nullify their good health. The doctor does not find any organic disorders in these patients, stating only increased or decreased acidity of gastric juice. Prescribed medications probably help, but only for a very short time. Neither antispasmodics (substances that relieve spasms), nor antacids (substances that bind acids), nor enzymatic products that promote digestion, or appropriate combinations, lead to lasting improvement. It is for such patients that a course of treatment with calamus tea is excellently helped. If they regularly drink 1 cup of tepid calamus tea before each meal – at least 2 times a day – the ailments pass slowly but surely.
- Calamus tea: 2 teaspoons (about 3 g) of finely chopped, peeled calamus rhizome are poured into 1/4 liter of boiling water and infused for about 15 minutes. After straining, tea should be drunk lukewarm.
- Calamus bath: For a calamus bath – if you do not use ready-made extracts – you need about 100 g of calamus rhizomes unpeeled from the bark, which are boiled for 10 minutes in 1 liter of water and then filtered. The expressed liquid is enough for one bathtub filled with water. Since these baths are stimulating, they should not be taken in the evening. Calamus baths have a beneficial effect on the body also in general exhaustion as a result of prolonged painful conditions and in all kinds of metabolic disorders.
Application in folk medicine.Apparently, it is difficult to find any other medicinal plant, the use of which reliably dates back to the 7th century BC. Ancient Persian writings say that calamus was already in use at that time. Not only in Persia, but also in China and India, it was known as an excellent gastric remedy long before our era. In Europe, calamus was introduced by P.A. Matthiolus around 1560. The court physician of Emperor Ferdinand I received this plant from Constantinople. Since that time, calamus has been valued in folk medicine as a remedy for disorders in the digestive system as a whole. In addition, calamus rhizome tea is used as a cleanser against skin rashes and dandruff. Calamus essential oil, obtained by steam distillation, or alcoholic extract from calamus rhizomes are also used as rubbing against rheumatic ailments.
Side effects. Despite the positive qualities of calamus, it is necessary to refrain from long courses of treatment with them, since fj-azaron (in European species of calamus occurs only as traces) can have a negative effect. Do not use during pregnancy!