Vacha – Acorus calamus is very rich in medicinal values, used in Ayurvedic medicines since the times of Chakara and Sushruta. Improves speech, intelligence and more. It is called Sweet Flag in English
Botanical Name- Acrous calamus Linn.
Names in different languages:
Hindi Name-Bach, Ghorbach, Safed bach
English Name- Sweet flag, Calamus, Myrtle grass
Kannada Name – Baje
Telugu Name- Vasa
Tamil Name- Vasambu, Pullai-valathi
Malayalam Name- Bavambu
Arabic name – Vaj, Vash, Oudul Vaj
Gujarati name – Gandhilovaj, Godavaj
Kashmiri name – Vachi, Vaigandar
Persian: Agar, Agarturki, Vasa
Urdu: Bach, Vaj
Nepali Name – Bojho;
Unani: Vaj turki, Bacch;
Ugra gandha – having offensive nauseating smell,
Golomi, Sataparvika, Shadgrandha, Shataparvika, Lomasha, Jatila, Haimavati
Lekhaniya – Group of herbs having scraping quality, useful in obesity
Arsoghna – Group of herbs useful in piles treatment
Truptighna – Group of herbs that cure early satiation,
Asthapanopaga – Group of herbs used in decoction enema
Shirovirechaana – Group of herbs used in Nasya treatment
Sanjnasthapana – Group of herbs used in restoring consciousness
Sheeta prashamana – Group of herbs useful to relieve coldness
Susruta- Pippalyadi, Mustadi, Vachadi
Vagbhata- Mustadi, Vacadi, Vatsadi, Haridradi Chardana, Niruhana
Distribution- Cultivated in moist regions in India.
Varieties of Vacha
As per Charaka, there are two varieties –
Vacha – Acorus calamus
Shweta Vacha – white variety – Iris germanica / Parils plyphylla.
As per Bhavaprakasha, there are five varieties –
Vacha – Acorus calamus linn
Parasika Vacha (Haimavati) – Iris germanica Linn
Kulanjana – Mahabhari Vacha – Alpinia galanga Willd
Sthoola Granthi – Zingiber zerumbet Rose
Dveepantara Vacha – Chopachini – Smilax china
Acorus calamus chemical Constituents – Acolamone, Acorenone, Acoragermacrone, Acoramone, Acorone, Cis- & trans- asarone, B-& ofasarone, Azulena, Cadalene, Calamenone, Calamenene, Calamenol, Calamone, calamenone, Calamenenene, calarene, B- gurjune, Camphene, Eugenol, Telekin, Preisocalamendiol, Acoric acid, Calamen, Diol, Calamenone etc.
(Reference: Illustrated Dravyaguna VIjnana, Vol. II, by Dr JLN Shastry)
Acorus calamus medicinal Properties
Rasa (taste)- Katu (pungent), Tikta (bitter)
Guna (qualities) – Laghu (lightness), Teekshna (strong, piercing)
Veerya- Ushna – Hot potency
Effect on Tridosha – Balances Kapha and Vata Dosha.
Prabhava – special effect – Medhya – improves intelligence
Part Used- Sweet flag Rhizome
Dosage- Powder 125-500 mg in divided dose per day.
Vacha – Acorus calamus benefits:
Pachana – Digestive, relieves Ama Dosha
Vahnikrut, Deepana – improves digestion strength
Vamani – induces vomiting
Medhya – improves intelligence
Jeevani – enlivening
Vak prada – improves speech
Swaraprada – improves voice
Unmadahara – useful in schizophrenia
Apasmarahara – useful in epilepsy
Jantuhara – anti microbial
Shoolahara – relieves abdominal colic pain
Vibandhahara – Relieves constipation
Adhmanahara – relieves bloating, gaseous distension of abdomen
Shakrut Mutra Vishodhini – cleanses feces and urine
Kantya – improves voice tone and quality, useful in throat disorders
Anilahara – useful in treating disorders of Vata Dosha imbalance such as neuralgia, paralysis, constipation, bloating, etc
Phirangahara – relieves syphilis
Rakshoghna, Bhutaghna – Useful against psychological imbalances and disorders
Vatajwarahara – useful in fever with bodyache
It is extensively used in obesity treatment. Especially as a herbal mix for powder massage (Udvartana).
It induces uterine contractions. Hence, it is used in inducing delivery. During a difficult delivery, it is administered along with Black pepper root and saffron. It is also administered in dysmenorrhea.
Swarna Vacha – Because of its efficacy to improve speech, memory and intelligence, it is administered along with A wire of Gold (Swarna). Read more about this remedy – Swarna Vacha
Acorus calamus oil has tranquilizing effect, used in anxiety, dizziness, on external application.
Sweet flag – Acorus calamus side effects:
Because it induces contractions in uterus, it is not safe to use this herb during pregnancy. It is best to avoid this during lactation.
It can be used in very minute quantities in children.
Because of its hot effect, some people with Pitta body type may find it difficult to tolerate this herb. To counter its side effects, saunf mixed with lemon juice is administered.
Vacha Shodhana – Purification process
Charaka and Sushruta have not mentioned about its purification procedure. However, it is mentioned in Chakradatta and Bhaishajya Ratnavali.
For purification, Acorus rhizomes are boiled successively in Gomutra (cow urine), Kashaya of Alambusha (Sphaeranthus indicus) and Panchapallava Kashayam.
This is followed by Bashpa Sweda (sweating / fomentation) with Surabhi Toya – A decoction prepared with Cinnamon, Musta, Bala, Kushta. Patraka, Usheera.
In some folklore methods of south India, Acorus rhizomes are kept dipped in cow milk or supernatent liquid of curd over-night, then washed in hot water, dried and preserved.
Ayurvedic medicines with Sweet flag ingredient:
Kolakulathadi Choornam – Used for powder massage to relieve joint stiffness and to treat obesity
Manasamitra Vatakam – to improve intelligence, speech problems, etc.
Brahmi Vati – used in the treatment of depression, blood pressure etc.
Chandroday Varti – a wick, used for eye disorders. Used in the treatment of early stage of cataract, pterygium, growth over the eyes, etc
Vacha used in preparing Ayurvedic medicines
Vacha, along with other herbs such as Jatamansi, Agaru, Sandalwood, Camphor etc is used for fumigation of fermentation vessel, in the preparation of Arishta and Asava – Alcoholic Ayurvedic medicines.
Vacha, along with other herbs such as Chitraka, Danti, Dravanti, Asa foetida, Coral, Bida salt and Sochal salt are used in preparing Madhyama – Teekshna Kshara.