Bach / Vacha – Acorus Calamus

Acorus calamus is a herbaceous perennial, 2 m tall. It resembles the iris and consists of tufts of basal leaves that rise from a spreading rhizome. Sweet flag can easily be distinguished from iris and other similar plants by the crimped edges of the leaves, the fragrant odor it emits when crushed, and the presence of a spadix. The root (rhizome) is used in Ayurvedic medicine. 

Acorus calamus is also called Bach, Sweet Flag, Calamus, Sweet root, Gladdon, Myrtle grass, Vacha, etc . 

Its Latin name Acorus calamus L. (Calamus odaratus) comes from the Greek akoros, which means a plant with a fragrant root“, and kalamos” means “cane”. 

Calamus leaves and rhizomes contain a volatile oil that gives a characteristic odor and flavor. Major components of the oil are beta-asarone (as much as 75%) and alpha-asarone, saponins, lectins, sesquiterpenoids, lignans, and steroids. Phytochemicals in the plant vary according to geographic location, plant age, climate, species variety, and plant component extracted. Diploids do not contain beta-asarone.  


– Ulcers 

– Gas 

– Upset stomach 

– Colic 

– Increasing appetite 

– Arthritis 

– Headache 

– Memory problems 

– Hemorrhoids 

– Earache 

– Strokes 

– Skin disorders 

– Other conditions 

CautionsAcorus calamus and products derived from A. calamus (such as its oil) were banned from use as human food or as a food additive in 1968 by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Although limits on consumption in food or alcoholic beverages (115 micrograms per day) were recommended in a 2001 ruling by the European Commission, the degree of safe exposure remained undefined. The most common side effect of calamus is vomiting, although heart palpitations and slow bowel movements have also been reported. The appropriate dose of calamus depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for calamus. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using. 

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Calamus is likely unsafe when taken by mouth during pregnancy or breast-feeding. Avoid use. 

Heart conditions: Calamus might lower blood pressure and heart rate. In theory, large amounts of calamus might worsen heart problems in some people with heart conditions. 

Low blood pressure: Calamus might lower blood pressure. In theory, taking calamus might make blood pressure become too low in people with low blood pressure. 

Surgery: Calamus can affect the central nervous system. It might cause too much sleepiness if combined with medications used during and after surgery. If you are using calamus despite safety concerns, stop using it at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery. 

*Despite safety concerns, Bach is commonly used by mouth for different stomach problems, including ulcers, inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis), diarrhea, intestinal gas (flatulence), upset stomach, and many more.  

*Some people chew A.calamus to remove the smell of tobacco. Bach is also applied to the skin and ears for different conditions.  

*Overall, there is limited scientific research to support any of these uses. 

*In foods, Bach is used as a spice.