Medicinal use of Sweet Flag or Bach or Sweet Root

Acorus calamus (Bach) is a well-known medicinal plant of aquatic habitats. For medicinal purpose the root-stock of plant are used. It indigenous to India and is found almost throughout India up to altitude of 1800 meters. It has aromatic leaves and rhizomes. Calamus is used to treat different clinical conditions such as digestive system problems, gas, bloating, bronchitis, fever, asthma, cough, rheumatism etc. Its rhizome oil is nerve stimulant, sedative and analgesic.

Sweet Flag medicinal uses

In Ayurveda calamus is considered tonic for brain, nervous system and cure for digestive system ailments. Calamus is ingredient of Ayurvedic medicine Brahmi Vati which is used for treating epilepsy, hysteria and mental retardation.

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
  • Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • Class: Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
  • Subclass: Arecidae
  • Order: Arales
  • Family: Acoraceae – Calamus family
  • Genus: Acorus L. – sweetflag
  • Species: Acorus calamus L. – calamus

There are four types of Calamus used in herbal medicine viz. type I—Acorus calamus L. var. americanus, a diploid American var.;type II—var. vulgaris L. (var. calamus), a European triploid;type III and type IV—var. augustatus Bess. and var. versus L., subtropical tetraploids.


Perennial, erect, aromatic herb, common on river banks and marshes, ascending to 1800 m;rhizome cylindrical or slightly compressed, about 2.5 cm in diameter, much-branched, externally light brown or pinkish brown but white and spongy within;leaves distichous, large, 1-2 m in length, base equitant, margin waved;spadix sessile, cylindric, densely flowered, not completely enclosed by spathe, spathe 15-75 cm in length, narrow, leaf-like;flowers small, bisexual;berries few-seeded;seeds oblong, albuminous.

Flowering and Fruiting: July-August;fruiting very rare.

Distribution: Throughout India;ascending the Himalaya up to 2000 m;Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Habit: Semi-aquatic or marshy, perennial herb.

Parts Used for Medicinal Purpose: Roots.

Chemical contents

Dry rhizome:1.5-3.5% of a yellow aromatic volatile oil-calamus oil;the oil contains β-asarone, small quantities of sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpenes alcohols;Rhizome: also contains choline (0.26%), flavone, acoradin, 2, 4, 5-tri-MeObenzaldehyde, 2, 5-di-MeO-benzoquinone, galangin, calameone, acolamone, isoacolamone, epoxyisoacoragermacrone;Aerial parts: lutcolin-6, 8-cdiglucoside;chemical constituents vary in ecotypes and polyploides.

Other names of Acorus calamus

  • Sanskrit: Vacha, Bach, Bhuta nashini
  • Ayurvedic: Vacha, Ugragandha, Ugra, Golomi, Shadgrantha, Shataparva, Tikshnagandha, Kshudra-patra, Mangalya, Ghorbach
  • Unani: Waj-e-Turki, Waj
  • Siddha/Tamil: Vasambu
  • Hindi: Bach, gorabach, Safed Bach
  • Assamese: Themepr
  • Bengali: Bach
  • Marathi: vekhand
  • Kannada: bajegida
  • Malayalam: Vashampe
  • Kannada: bajegida
  • Malayalam: Vashampe
  • Tamil: vashambu
  • Telugu: vasa
  • English: The sweet flag

Benefits of Vach Root Powder

  • It is nervine tonic. As a stimulant or nervine it is used in combination with other medicines in low fevers, epilepsy and insanity.
  • It improves functioning of brain and nervous system.
  • It is diuretic in action.
  • It reduces Vata/wind.
  • It reduces Kapha/mucous and thus helps to cure excessive cough and mucous in body.
  • It increases pitta and thus helps to cure indigestion.
  • It detoxifies body.
  • It has wormicidal action.
  • It is antiseptic.
  • It is sedative and analgesic.
  • It is antiasthmatic.
  • It is also used as an antidote in snakebite.

Important Medicinal Properties of Sweet flag root powder

  • Alterative
  • Anthelmintic
  • Anti-parasitic
  • Antiperiodic
  • Anti-rheumatic
  • Antispasmodic
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Astringent
  • Anticonvulsant
  • Brain tonic
  • Cardiac tonic
  • Carminative
  • Diaphoretic
  • Diuretic
  • Emetic
  • Errhine
  • Expectorant
  • Hypotensive
  • Insecticide
  • Purgative
  • Styptic
  • Sedative

Medicinal use of Vach/Bach/Sweet flag root powder

The rhizome of Vach has stomachic, carminative and nervine in smaller doses. It is used in treatment of diseases of body and mind. It is given to improve memory and functioning of brain.

Intake of Calamus root powder reduces Vata and Kapha but increases pitta. Vach is used in the treatment of paralysis, epilepsy, retention of urine, intestinal worms, cough, bronchitis, diarrhea, gas, hair loss, indigestion, Vocal problems and various skin disorders.

Mental stress, improving memory

Vach root powder is taken with honey, twice a day.


Take calamus root (1 tbsp), clean it and boil in water (1200 ml). Filter and drink 3-4 times a day (half cup at a time).

Headache, joint pain

Apply paste of calamus root on affected areas.

Fever, cough

Its paste is applied directly on the forehead during fever.

Diarrhoea, Indigestion, gas

Take Bach root powder (2 pinch) with honey in the morning.

Speech problems

The root powder is given for two months in recommended dosage.

Nervous system problem

Take bach root powder (2 pinches) with water in the morning for a month.


Mix calamus root powder, Ashwagandha powder and Costus powder in equal quantities. Mix this powder with ghee and apply externally on affected areas.

Boils, wounds

Apply calamus root powder on affected areas.

For acne

Apply a paste of Lodhra bark, coriander and Acorus calamus.


If taken in excess it causes emesis.

Internally it should be taken in precise dosage only.

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