Vaca (Acorus Calamus / Sweet Flag) Uses & Benefits

acorus calamus (vaca) roots

Vaca (Sanskrit) literally means “speaking.”

The Acorus Calamus plant, also known as Vaca, stimulates your voice, the power of your speech, self-expression and your intelligence. 

Although the roots and leaves have a peculiar sweet smell, the taste sure ain’t sweet. It is pungent and bitter (katu and tikta rasa) and I sure am feeling the throat stimulation after eating a small piece of the root - the dry, heating, stimulating sensation in my throat was particularly strong from lunch till sleep and I can still feel it the next day, 24 hours later.

Thus, as the ancient Rishis (seers) and now I have discovered, Vaca is good for the throat, vocal cords and respiratory issues like cough, cold, asthma and sinus conditions.

Nomenclature

English: Sweet Flag or Calamus
Sanskrit: Vaca or Ugragandha
Latin: Acorus Calamus

Energetics

Rasa (taste): Katu (pungent), Tikta (bitter)
Virya (energy): Usna (heating)
Vipaka (post-digestive effect): Katu (pungent)
Gunas (quality): Ruksha (dry), Laghu (light), Tikshna (penetrating)
Dosha: VK- P+

Ayurvedic Action

Ganas (classical groups):

  • Lekhaniya (Scrapes out accumulations) (Vaghbata)
  • Triptighna (That which destroys the abnormal feeling of contentment or lack of desire in anything). (Vaghbata)
  • Arsoghna (Cures Haemorrhoids) (Vaghbata)
  • Sitasamana (Relieves the feeling of cold quickly) (Vaghbata)
  • Samjnada (Restores Consciousness) (Vaghbata)

Indications

Reduces Cravings and Addictions

Chewing the root pre-occupies your throat with this stimulating sensation thus cravings like cigarettes and food diminishes. Here in the village I harvested the roots from, they give a soft soaked root to babies during teething which boosts their immunity (rasayana).

Balance the Mind (Manas)

Acorus Calamus / Vaca is also one of the best herbs for the mind (manas) - its penetrating quality (tikshna guna) effectively purifies the mind and then rejuvenates the brain and nervous system, including the mind’s subtle channels by sharpening the memory, promoting cerebral circulation and increasing sensitivity. It helps cure epilepsy(1), insanity, coma, shock and vata diseases of the head.

Balance Vata

Acorus Calamus / Vaca is excellent for vata, and perhaps one of the best ways to use it is sniff it up your nose with a medicated oil to your brain - directly revitalise your brain with Prana (life-force).

More Benefits:(1)

  • Rasanaya (Longevity and Immunity) - The root is made into bracelets for children to teeth on.
  • Deepaana (Enhances digestive fire)
  • Digestion - relieves constipation, flatulence, pain in the abdomen
  • Helps elimination - cleanses the faeces, and urine
  • cures insanity caused by kapha and bhuta (evil)
  • Cures worms.

Note that Calamus is banned by the FDA in USA due to toxicity.

Ayurveda says you should only have small amounts of it and must purify it properly (the knowledge of purification of herbs is scare)

Overall, this is one of the most revered herbs in Ayurveda that has been used for thousands of years, and now grows around the world, particualry in wetlands.

References:

  • (1) Bhavaprakasha, Haritakyadi varga.
  • Ganas (Ayurvedic action) - ASTANGA SAMGRAHA (OF VAGBHATA), Author: Prof. K R Srikantha Murthy, CHAPTER 15: LARGER COLLECTION OF EFFICACIOUS RECIPES