Acorus calamus Linn – Pharmacognosy

Family: Araceae

Common names: Boch, Gora-Boch (Bengali); Sweet Flag (Eng.)

Acorus calamus
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The plant grows wild or under cultivation in many marshy places, stagnant water ditches and edges of lakes and rivers of Chittagong and Chittagong Hill Tracts.


A reed-like, perennial, marshy or aquatic rhizomatous plant with bright green, Iong sword-shaped thick aromatic leaves arising from a cylindrical creeping oblique rhizome. Minute flowers are grouped together in small oblong spikes.

Parts used:

Fresh or dried pieced or powdered rhizomes.

Chemical constituents:

Rhizome contains an essential oil with beta-asarone as major constituent and also calamenenol, calamene, ecgenol methyl ether, palmitic acid and sesquiterpene alcohols. It also contains asaryl aldehyde, choline, flavone, acoradin, 2,5-dimethoxy benzoquinone, galangin, saponins, a bitter principle (acorin), mucilage, sitosterol and sesquiterpenes. A crystalline compound, calamene sesqui-terpenenol, and phenylpropane have also been isolated from the rhizome Aerial parts contain choline, and luteolin and acorin glycosides. Fresh leaves contain oxalic acid and calcium.

Therapeutic properties and Uses:

Rhizome is nauseant, emetic, carminative, stomachic, sedative, expectorant and antispasmodic. It stimulates appetite and soothes digestion by relieving gas and calming indigestion and colic. It is thus used to treat indigestion flatulence or to stimulate appetite. Aqueous and ethanolic extracts are hypothermic, hypotensive, spasmolytic and CNS depressant. The rhizome is also used as a remedy for asthma, bronchitis and chronic diarrhoea in children. Its infusion is given in flatulence and dyspepsia. Roots and rhizomes are also used in various kinds of cancers and for treatment of fever, cough, toothache and headache. The ethanolic extract of the rhizome showed significant anti-secretory, anti-ulcerogenic and cytoprotective properties in rats. Both alcoholic extract of the rhizome and beta-asarone exhibit sedative and analgesic effects, cause moderate depression in blood pressure and respiration. They also possess strong inhibitory effect against Herpes virus.

The essential oil has anti-convulsing, anti-veratrinic and anti-arrhythmic actions.

Preparation and Dosage:

Tinctures are generally used. Dried and preserved rhizomes and their infusion in boiling water are also used.

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