Often acclaimed as an ideal herb for meditation and introspection, Calamus is recommended by saints, yogis and Ayurvedic philosophers for enhancing the functions of the brain, improving memory power, increasing intellectual capacity and for stimulating proper circulation to the brain. The essential oil of Calamus is extracted from the root of the Calamus plant, scientifically known as Acorus Calamus or Sweet flag by steam distillation method.
Calamus is native to Asia and Europe and has been found growing across Australia, South Africa, North America, New Guinea and Reunion. It has its name mentioned in the Old Testament and was talked about in Exodus as an element of the sacred anointing oil of the Bible. It was also denoted in the Chester Beatty papyrus VI, which approximately dates back to 1300 BC and Papyrus used Calamus with various other ingredients in preparing a bandage to appease stomach ailments.
Calamus has been a vital part of the traditional healing system of various countries for more than thousands of years in the treatment of numerous medical conditions. The primeval Egyptians trusted Calamus root as a potent aphrodisiac for its effectiveness in augmenting the health of the reproductive system. Calamus was added to wine in Europe and it also forms a part of absinthe.
The Penobscot people believed that Calamus root helped in healing prolonged sickness that was plaguing the people for a long time. They also steamed all through the homes to ward off illnesses and the dried roots were strung together for preservation. The people of the Potawatomi community used the dried Calamus root powder for treating catarrh. Indonesians use this aromatic root as a flavoring agent in the preparation of meat, sea foods and other vegetarian cuisines.
The warriors of Teton-Dakota applied the root paste on their faces for alleviating fear in the warfront. Calamus essential oil is also used in making perfumes mainly because of its therapeutic properties. The traditional Turks used this herb for all kinds of infections and it is used in preparing cough drops. It is also been used in the Traditional Chinese medicine, Siddha and Ayurvedic healing systems for its carminative, laxative, sedative and diuretic properties.
What is Calamus Essential Oil?
Calamus essential oil is an essential oil distilled from its roots. It is a fragrant plant. Its rhizome is used as a spice, similar to ginger. It is also called German ginger when used in crystalline form. The most important part of calamus plant is its root. Throughout the ages, it has been used as a herbal remedy for numerous complaints. The herb has been mentioned in many prominent ancient civilizations, like the Egyptians and the Indians. It is mentioned in the Ayurveda for its effects on the human psyche. There are some conflicting accounts about this herb. In some books, it is used to reduce the effect of hallucinogens, while others use it to create hallucinations.
Chemical composition of Calamus Essential Oil
Let us look at the nutrition facts of calamus essential oil. There are quite differences in the essential oil composition taken from Calamus from different parts of the world. This is the chemical composition of this essential oil.
|β – Asarone||83.2 %|
|α – Asarone||9.7 %|
|β – Bisabolene||1.2 %|
|(Z) – Isoelimicin||1.1 %|
|α – Terpineol||
Besides these compounds, calamus oil also contains other nutrients like (Z) – Ocimene, Linalool, Linalyl Acetate, δ-Elemene, β-Caryophyllene, β-Gurjurene, ar-Curcumene, α-uurolene and many more. The concentration of each of these is below 1% of the total calamus rhizome essential oil. However, we notice that nearly 90% of the oil is made up of just two ingredients.
- β-Asarone – It is the chief sedative compound in Calamus essential oil. Most of the health benefits are attributed to this compound. It also induces a drop in core body temperature. It also helps to improve the positive response of a person to a stressor, like an urge to fight.
- α-Asarone – It is a powerful antioxidant and a protector of the nervous system. It protects the nervous system from damage due to inflammation. It reduces oxidative stress, improves memory and is even helpful in cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s.
There is not enough information about other important chemical properties of calamus essential oil, like its pH, ORAC value (measure of antioxidant power) and its storage temperature.
Buying and Storage
Calamus oil can be easily obtained online, or at an essential oil store. There are chances that this oil may be adulterated with camphor components, so one should be sure about it. Calamus essential oil is not quite stable. It should be kept away from sunlight in a dark vial in cool temperature.
Properties of Calamus Essential Oil
Calamus essential oil possesses many healing and beneficial properties. However, it also has some harmful properties.
- Antioxidant – it has got powerful antioxidant capacity.
- Cicatrizant – It is a wound healer.
- Nervine – It has a stimulatory effect on the nervous system.
- Antimicrobial – effective against many species of bacteria, fungi and viruses.
- Insecticide – repels many insects, like cattle ticks.
- Anti-rheumatic – provides relief in rheumatoid arthritis.
- Anti-spasmodic – prevents the occurrence of spasms.
- Nootropic – It is a memory booster.
- Tranquilizer and Sedative – It provides relaxation and induces sleep.
- Cephalic – It improves the functioning of the brain and nervous system.
- Anti-epileptic – provides relief from epilepsy.
- Anti-inflammatory – reduces inflammation, especially in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Circulant – Improves blood circulation.
- Hypothermic – It reduces body’s core temperature. This is helpful in fevers.
Color and Aroma
Calamus essential oil has a yellowish brown color. The aroma of this oil is somewhat similar to that of cinnamon. It is sweet, uplifting and refreshing for the mind.
Uses and Benefits of Calamus Essential Oil
The health benefits of Calamus Essential Oil can be attributed to its properties as an anti-rheumatic, anti-spasmodic, antibiotic, cephalic, circulatory, memory boosting, nervine, stimulant, and tranquilizing substance.
Calamus essential oil is toxic if not used correctly. It should be therefore be used under professional supervision.
- Health Benefits for the Mind
Calamus essential oil can be diffused in the air using a vaporizer. One should add about 3-4 drops in vaporizer, and about 10 drops in case of an oil burner. When the air contains the essence of calamus, it provides many health benefits to the mind.
- It improves mental focus, concentration and alertness. It can thus be used when there is a need to stay sharp and focused.
- It aids the memory retention process.
- It improves blood circulation to the brain and thus gets rid of dizziness. The person can experience better balance and steadiness.
- It alleviates anxiety, stress and tension.
- Its aroma is spiritually uplifting. It can foster positive feelings to the mind.
Calamus essential oil is helpful in mild fever, or feverishness. The aroma, when diffused in the air alleviates the symptoms of a fever and allows the person to lie down and get rest. This is a simple home remedy for a mild fever.
- Anti-rheumatic & Anti-Arthritic
This oil is particularly stimulating for the nerves and blood circulation. It stimulates and increases the rate of blood circulation in the affected area and gives relief from the pain and swelling associated with rheumatism, arthritis, and gout. One can add about 2 drops of calamus essential oil to 5 ml of base oil, like castor oil and apply it on the painful. It is anti-inflammatory and reduces redness and pain on the joint.
The Essential Oil of Calamus is known for its anti-spasmodic properties. It relaxes all sorts of spasms, but is particularly effective on nervous spasms. Therefore, in cases of nervous afflictions and disturbances, this essential oil can be administered, but only in very mild doses.
Due to its toxic nature, Calamus Essential Oil does not allow any biotic growth and acts as an antibiotic. This property can be used to fight infections, both internally and externally.
One can get great relief from the calamus essential oil by using in a bath. Prepare some warm water for bath and add about 6-8 drops of calamus essential oil along with lavender essential oil. The two go well with each other. Take bath in this water. It creates a tranquilizing effect and the person feels a sedative effect. This provides relief from pain, like chronic back pain. It also alleviates anxiety and mental stress. This bath makes the mind calm and alleviates irritation and negative feeling. The presence of lavender oil in this home remedy induces sleep and alleviates insomnia.
Being a stimulant, this increases blood circulation and helps nutrients and oxygen reach every corner of the body. This circulation also stimulates the metabolism.
- Memory Boosting
The Essential Oil of Calamus has memory-boosting effects. This can be administered to those who are undergoing or have undergone memory loss due to aging, trauma, or any other reason. This also helps to repair certain damages done to the brain tissues and neurons.
Most of the effects of this essential oil deal with the brain and the nervous system. Therefore, as expected, this oil is a nervine and helps maintain the ideal health of the nervous system. It helps recover them from shock and other damage. It also reduces chances of epileptic fits, hysteric attacks, and various nervous afflictions.
Calamus Essential Oil is particularly stimulating for the nervous system and the brain. It stimulates nerves and the neurons and helps achieve alertness and steadiness. It also stimulates certain discharges, including those of the hormones, blood circulation, and other functions going on inside the body.
A low dose of this oil can induce sleep and work as a very effective tranquilizer. This may be of great help to those who suffer from sleeplessness or insomnia. This tranquilizing effect relaxes the body and the mind, helping people get a good, healthy rest.
Calamus essential oil is quite helpful in all kinds of neuralgia, like trigeminal neuralgia. In these conditions, engorged blood vessels constrict or pinch the nerve. When the nerve is constrained, it stimulates all along its length. If the contraction is large, it can lead to sharp, intense burning pain which feels like shocks of electricity rushing through. Application of calamus essential oil in a base oil reduces inflammation in the nearby tissues. The blood vessels constrict and return to their normal size. As pressure on the nerve is relieved, neuralgia is also relieved. This way, it is helpful in diabetic neuropathy. A scalp massage using this oil as an ingredient reduces this kind of pressure on the cranial nerves.
- Other Benefits
It can be used to treat neuralgia, which is caused due to the pressure exerted on the Ninth Cranial Nerve by the surrounding blood vessels, triggering acute pain and swelling. Calamus Oil makes the blood vessels contract and reduce pressure on the cranial nerve. Furthemore, due to its numbing and tranquilizing effect on the brain and the nerves, it reduces feelings of pain. This oil is also used for the treatment of headaches and vertigo, along with being a sedative.
Precautions for Calamus Essential Oil
The Essential Oil of Calamus contains a compound called asorone, which is toxic and is considered carcinogenic. It has narcotic effects as well and can cause convulsions and hallucinations if taken in high doses. Studies have shown that its oral ingestion can cause prolonged severe convulsions and tumours. Therefore, oral ingestion should be avoided unless under the guidance of an expert practitioner. Pregnant women should strictly avoid its use.
Blending for Calamus Essential Oil
Calamus Essential Oil blends well with the essential oils of cedar wood, cinnamon, clary sage, labdanum, lavender, marjoram, olibanum, oregano, patchouli rosemary, tea tree, and ylang-ylang.
Modern Research about Calamus Essential Oil
Acorus calamus shows neuroprotective effect against stroke and chemically induced neurodegeneration in rats. Specifically, it has protective effect against acrylamide induced neurotoxicity.
Both roots and leaves of A.calamus have shown antioxidant, antimicrobial and insecticidal activities.
Acorus calamus may prove to be an effective control measure against cattle tick, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus.
A recent study showed that beta-asarone isolated from Acorus calamus oil inhibits adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 cells and thus reduces lipid accumulation in fat cells.