Tag Archives: Piper

Matico

Botanical Name : Piper angustifolium
Family: Piperaceae
Genus:     Piper
Species: P. aduncum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Piperales

Synonyms: Artanthe elongata. Stephensia elongata. Piper granulosum. Piper elongatum. Yerba soldado. Soldier’s Herb. Thoho-thoho. Moho-moho.

Common Names : Matico  or Soldier’s herb, gusanillo, herbe du soldat, higuillo,wer-ui-qui-yik higuillo de hoja, hoja santa, jaborandi falso, jawawa, jointwood, kakoro, malembe toto,tupa burraco, man-anihs, matico pepper, matico, maticoblätter, matika, matiko, menuda, moco-moco, moho-moho, mucumucu, pimenta de fruto ganxoso, pimenta-de-fruto-ganchoso, upnpoingpoing, pimenta-de-macaco, pimenta-matico, Santa Maria negro, shiatani, soldaten kraut, soldier’s herb, spiked pepper, tapa-curaco, tokondé,

Habitat:Matico is native to Southern Mexico, the Caribbean, and much of tropical South America. It is grown in tropical Asia, Polynesia, and Melanesia and can even be found in Florida, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

Description:
Matico is a tropical, evergreen, shrubby tree that grows to the height of 6 to 7 meter (20 to 23 ft) with lance-shaped leaves that are 12 to 20 centimeter (5 to 8 in) long.The tree produces cord-like, white to pale yellow, inflorescence spikes that contain many minute flowers that are wind-pollinated and that soon develop into numerous tiny drupes with black seeds. The seeds are then scattered easily by bats and birds. From these many seeds, it can form large stands of quickly-growing shrubby trees that can choke out other native vegetation. Established plants also thicken into clumps or stands by suckers arising from the root crown. In some countries Matico is considered as an invasive weed.
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In parts of New Guinea, although Matico is notorious for drying out the soil in the areas where it is invasive, the wood of this plant is nonetheless used by local residents for a myriad of uses such as for fuel and fence posts.

Edible Uses: The fruits are used as a condiment and for flavoring cocoa.It is sometimes used as a substitute for long pepper.

Medicinal Uses:
Part Used:  The dried leaves.

Constituents: A volatile oil, slightly dextrogyrate, containing in some specimens Matico camphor. Some of the later specimens of oil are said to contain not camphor but asarol. A crystallizable acid called artanthic acid and a little tannin and resin are also found.

In the Amazon Rainforest, many of the native tribes use matico leaves as an antiseptic.It is effective as a topical application to slight wounds, bites of leeches, or after the extraction of teeth. The under surface of the leaf is preferred to the powder for this purpose. In Peru, it was used for stopping hemorrhages and treating ulcers, and in European practice in the treatment of diseases of the genitals and urinary organs, such as those for which cubeb was often prescribed.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/matico24.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piper_aduncum

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Cubeb

Botanical Name :Piper cubeba
Family: Piperaceae
Genus: Piper
Species: P. cubeba
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Piperales

Synonym: Tailed Pepper.

Common Names :Cubeb (Piper cubeba), or tailed pepper, or shital chini / kabab chini in Hindi sometimes it is called Java pepper

Part Used: The dried, full-grown, unripe fruit.

Habitat:  Java, Penang, and other parts of East Indies.

Description:
Cubeb  is a climbing perennial plant, with dioecious flowers in spikes. The fruit is a globose, pedicelled drupe. It is extensively grown in the coffee plantations, well shaded and supported by the coffee trees. Odour aromatic and characteristic- taste strongly aromatic and pungent and somewhat bitter. Commercial Cubebs are often adulterated with other fruits containing a volatile oil, but with very different properties. There is no evidence that the plant was known to the ancients, though it was probably brought into Europe by the Arabians, who doubtless employed the fruit as pepper.

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The fruits are gathered before they are ripe, and carefully dried. Commercial cubebs consist of the dried berries, similar in appearance to black pepper, but with stalks attached – the “tails” in “tailed pepper”. The dried pericarp is wrinkled, and its color ranges from grayish-brown to black. The seed is hard, white and oily. The odor of cubebs is described as agreeable and aromatic and the taste as pungent, acrid, slightly bitter and persistent. It has been described as tasting like allspice, or like a cross between allspice and black pepper.

Edible Uses:
In Europe, cubeb was one of the valuable spices during the Middle Ages. It was ground as a seasoning for meat or used in sauces. A medieval recipe includes cubeb in making sauce sarcenes, which consists of almond milk and several spices. As an aromatic confectionery, cubeb was often candied and eaten whole.[18] Ocet Kubebowy, a vinegar infused with cubeb, cumin and garlic, was used for meat marinades in Poland during the 14th century. Cubeb can still be used to enhance the flavor of savory soups.

Cubeb reached Africa by way of the Arabs. In Moroccan cuisine, cubeb is used in savory dishes and in pastries like markouts, little diamonds of semolina with honey and dates. It also appears occasionally in the list of ingredients for the famed spice mixture Ras el hanout. In Indonesian cuisine, especially in Indonesian gulés (curries), cubeb is frequently used.

Chemical Constituents:
The dried cubeb berries contain essential oil consisting monoterpenes (sabinene 50%, ?-thujene, and carene) and sesquiterpenes (caryophyllene, copaene, ?- and ?-cubebene, ?-cadinene, germacrene), the oxides 1,4- and 1,8-cineole and the alcohol cubebol.

About 15% of a volatile oil is obtained by distilling cubebs with water. Cubebene, the liquid portion, has the formula C15H24. It is a pale green or blue-yellow viscous liquid with a warm woody, slightly camphoraceous odor. After rectification with water, or on keeping, this deposits rhombic crystals of camphor of cubebs.

Cubebin (C10H10O3) is a crystalline substance existing in cubebs, discovered by Eugène Soubeiran and Capitaine in 1839. It may be prepared from cubebene, or from the pulp left after the distillation of the oil. The drug, along with gum, fatty oils, and malates of magnesium and calcium, contains also about 1% of cubebic acid, and about 6% of a resin. The dose of the fruit is 30 to 60 grains, and the British Pharmacopoeia contains a tincture with a dose of 4 to 1 dram.

Medicinal Uses:
Stimulant, carminative, much used as a remedy for gonorrhoea, after the first active inflammatory symptoms have subsided; also used in leucorrhoea, cystitis, urethritis, abscesses of the prostate gland, piles and chronic bronchitis.

In India, Sanskrit texts included cubeb in various remedies. Charaka and Sushruta prescribed a cubeb paste as a mouthwash, and the use of dried cubebs internally for oral and dental diseases, loss of voice, halitosis, fevers, and cough. Unani physicians use a paste of the cubeb berries externally on male and female genitals to intensify sexual pleasure during coitus. Due to this attributed property, cubeb was called “Habb-ul-Uruus”.

In traditional Chinese medicine cubeb is used for its alleged warming property. In Tibetan medicine, cubeb (ka ko la in Tibetan) is one of bzang po drug, six fine herbs beneficial to specific organs in the body, with cubeb assigned to the spleen.

Arab physicians of the Middle Ages were usually versed in alchemy, and cubeb was used, under the name kababa, when preparing the water of al butm. The Book of One Thousand and One Nights mentions cubeb as a main ingredient in making an aphrodisiac remedy for infertility:

“ He took two ounces of Chinese cubebs, one ounce of fat extract of Ionian hemp, one ounce of fresh cloves, one ounce of red cinnamon from Sarandib, ten drachms of white Malabar cardamoms, five of Indian ginger, five of white pepper, five of pimento from the isles, one ounce of the berries of Indian star-anise, and half an ounce of mountain thyme. Then he mixed cunningly, after having pounded and sieved them; he added pure honey until the whole became a thick paste; then he mingled five grains of musk and an ounce of pounded fish roe with the rest. Finally he added a little concentrated rose-water and put all in the bowl. ”

The mixture, called “seed-thickener”, is given to Shams-al-Din, a wealthy merchant who had no child, with the instruction that he must eat the paste two hours before having intercourse with his wife. According to the story, the merchant did get the child he desired after following these instructions. Other Arab authors wrote that cubeb rendered the breath fragrant, cured affections of the bladder, and that eating it “enhances the delight of coitus”.

In 1654, Nicholas Culpeper wrote in the London Dispensatorie that cubebs were “hot and dry in the third degree… (snip) they cleanse the head of flegm and strengthen the brain, they heat the stomach and provoke lust”. A later edition in 1826 informed the reader that “the Arabs call them Quabebe, and Quabebe Chine: they grow plentifully in Java, they stir up venery. (snip) …and are very profitable for cold griefs of the womb”.

The modern use of cubeb in England as a drug dates from 1815. There were various preparations, including oleum cubebae (oil of cubeb), tinctures, fluid extracts, oleo-resin compounds, and vapors, which were used for throat complaints. A small percentage of cubeb was commonly included in lozenges designed to alleviate bronchitis, in which the antiseptic and expectoral properties of the drug are useful. The most important therapeutic application of this drug, however, was in treating gonorrhea, where its antiseptic action was of much value. William Wyatt Squire wrote in 1908 that cubebs “act specifically on the genito-urinary mucous membrane. (They are) given in all stages of gonorrhea”. As compared with copaiba in this connection cubeb has the advantages of being less disagreeable to take and somewhat less likely to disturb the digestive apparatus in prolonged administration.

The volatile oil, oleum cubebae, was the form in which cubeb is most commonly used as a drug, the dose being 5 to 20 minims, which may be suspended in mucilage or given after meals in a wafer. The drug exhibited the typical actions of a volatile oil, but exerted some of these to an exceptional degree. As such, it was liable to cause a cutaneous erythema in the course of its excretion by the skin, had a marked diuretic action, and was a fairly efficient disinfectant of the urinary passages. Its administration caused the appearance in the urine of a salt of cubebic acid which was precipitated by heat or nitric acid, and was therefore liable to be mistaken for albumin, when these two most common tests for the occurrence of albuminuria were applied.

The National Botanic Pharmacopoeia printed in 1921 tells that cubeb was an excellent remedy for flour albus or whites.

Other Uses:
Cubeb was frequently used in the form of cigarettes for asthma, chronic pharyngitis and hay fever. Edgar Rice Burroughs, being fond of smoking cubeb cigarettes, humorously stated that if he had not smoked so many cubebs, there might never have been Tarzan. “Marshall’s Prepared Cubeb Cigarettes” was a popular brand, with enough sales to still be made during World War II. Occasionally, marijuana users claimed that smoking marijuana is no more harmful than smoking cubeb.   In the musical The Music Man, set in rural Iowa in 1912, the character Harold Hill alarms parents by telling this that their sons are trying out cubeb cigarettes at the notorious pool hall in the song “Trouble”.

Cubeb oil was included in the list of ingredients found in cigarettes, published by the Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch of North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Bombay Sapphire gin is flavored with botanicals including cubeb and grains of paradise. The brand was launched in 1987, but its maker claims that it is based on a secret recipe dating to 1761. Pertsovka, a dark brown Russian pepper vodka with a burning taste, is prepared from infusion of cubeb and capsicum peppers

Cubeb is sometimes used to adulterate the essential oil of Patchouli, which requires caution for Patchouli users. In turn, cubeb is adulterated by Piper baccatum (also known as the “climbing pepper of Java”) and Piper caninum.

Cubeb berries are used in love-drawing magic spells by practitioners of hoodoo, an African-American form of folk magic.

In 2000, Shiseido, a well-known Japanese cosmetics company, patented a line of anti-aging products containing formulas made from several herbs, including cubeb.

In 2001, the Swiss company Firmenich patented cubebol, a compound found in cubeb oil, as a cooling and refreshing agent.  The patent describes application of cubebol as a refreshing agent in various products, ranging from chewing gum to sorbets, drinks, toothpaste, and gelatin-based confectioneries.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubeb
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/cubeb121.html

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Piper kadsura

Botanical Name : Piper kadsura
Family: Piperaceae
Genus: Piper
Species: P. kadsura
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Piperales

Common Name :Japanese Pepper

Habitat :Piper kadsura is native to  Eastern Asiati countries

Description:
This is an evergreen vine capable of growing straight up a tree trunk. It is reported to be dioecious so a single plant will not produce seeds. It grows well in shade in a well-drained soil and responds to irrigation. Catalogs guess that it will be cold hardy in zone 8b and south.

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English: Piper kadsura – Japanese Pepper, f?t?...

English: Piper kadsura – Japanese Pepper, futokazura (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stems rooting at nodes, ridged, sparsely pubescent when young. Petiole 1-1.5 cm, sometimes pubescent, sheathed at base only; leaf blade ovate or long ovate, 6-12 × 3.5-7 cm, ± leathery, abaxially usually pubescent on veins, adaxially glabrous, with uniformly scattered raised white glands, base cordate to rounded, ± symmetric, apex acute or obtuse; veins 5, apical pair arising up to 1.5 cm above base, others basal; reticulate veins conspicuous. Spikes leaf-opposed. Male spikes yellow, ascending, 3-5.5(-12) cm × ca. 2.5 mm; peduncle 0.6-1.5 cm; rachis hispidulous; bracts yellow, orbicular, ca. 1 mm wide, peltate, margin irregular, abaxially roughly white pubescent, ± sessile. Stamens 2 or 3; filaments short. Female spikes shorter than leaf blades; peduncle ca. as long as petioles; rachis and bracts as in male spikes. Ovary globose, distinct; stigmas 3 or 4, linear, pubescent. Drupe brownish yellow, globose, 3-4 mm in diam. Fl. May-Aug.

Medicinal Uses:
This pepper is used as a stomachic, expectorant, and stimulant.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200005569
http://southeastgarden.com/piper.html
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_OPQ.htm

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Betel nut (Bengali Supari)

Botanical Name : Areca catechu L. (Arecaceae)
Family: Arecaceae
Genus:     Areca
Species: A. catechu
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Arecales

English names: Areca palm, Areca nut, Betel nut, Pinang palm.

Sanskrit names: Gubak, Phalam, Poag, Pooga, Poogi.

Vernacular names: Asm : Tambul; Ben: Supari, Gua; Guj : Supaari; Hin : Kasaili,

Supari; Kan : Adike, Bette; Kon : Maddi; Mal: Adakka, Pugam, Pakka; Mar: Supari Ori : Gua; Tam: Kamubu, Pakku; Tel: Poke, Vakka.

Synonyms:Amaska, areca nut, arecoline, arequier, betal, betelnusspalme, betel quid, chavica etal, gutkha, hmarg, maag, marg, mava, mawa, pan, paan, Palmaceae (family), pan masala, pan parag, pinang, pinlang, Piper betel Linn. (leaf of vine used to wrap betel nuts), pugua, quid, Sting® (Tantric Corporation), supai, ugam

Trade names: Areca nut, Betel nut, Supari. There are over 150 trade types.

Habitat :Cultivated in the coastal regions of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka,East Indies. Myanmar and other tropical and subtropical countries.

Part Used:—The seed.
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Description:Tall, slender, unbranched palm with a crown of leaves; stem annulate; leaves pinnate with a conspicuous sheet; flowers in spadix, male many at the upper portion, female much longer and a few at the base; fruits are single-seeded berries with flesh and fibrous pericarp and a stony seed, 3.8-5 em long, smooth, orange or scarlet when ripe.

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A handsome tree cultivated in all the warmer parts of Asia for its yellowish-red fruits the size of a hen’s egg, containing the seed about the size of an acorn, conical shape with flattened base and brownish in colour externally; internally mottled like a nutmeg. The seeds are cut into narrow pieces and rolled inside Betel Pepper leaf, rubbed over with lime and chewed by the natives. They stain the lips and teeth red and also the excrement, they are hot and acrid when chewed.

Betel nut is commercially available in dried, cured and natural forms. Considered an auspicious ingredient in Hinduism, it is used along with betel leaf in religious ceremonies and also while honoring individuals. Betel nuts are chewed for their effects as a mildly euphoric stimulant, attributed to the presence of relatively high levels of psychoactive alkaloids and terpeneols. Chewing betel nuts increases the capacity to work, also causes a hot sensation in the body, heightened alertness and sweating[citation needed]. It should be noted effect of chewing a few betel nuts is milder than drinking a cup of coffee. Chewing betel nuts is an important and popular cultural activity in many Asian countries including Palau. In East and North-east India, Betel nut is chewed with Paan (Betel leaf).Betel nuts are used in preparation of Ayurvedic medicines

Constituents of areca are potentially carcinogenic. Long-term use has been associated with oral submucous fibrosis (OSF), pre-cancerous oral lesions and squamous cell carcinoma. Acute effects of betel chewing include worsening of asthma, low blood pressure, and rapid heart beat..

Constituents—Areca Nut contains a large quantity of tannin, also gallic acid, a fixed oil gum, a little volatile oil, lignin, and various saline substances. Four alkaloids have been found in Areca Nut – Arecoline, Arecain, Guracine, and a fourth existing in very small quantity. Arecoline resembles Pilocarpine in its effects on the system. Arecaine is the active principle of the Areca Nut.

Medicinal Actions and Uses:—Areca Nut is aromatic and astringent and is said to intoxicate when first taken. The natives chew these nuts all day. Whole shiploads are exported annually from Sumatra, Malacca, Siam and Cochin China. In this country Areca Nut is made into a dentrifrice on account of its astringent properties. Catechu is often made by boiling down the seeds of the plant to the consistency of an extract, but the proper Catechu used in Britain is produced from the Acacia catechu. The flowers are very sweet-scented and in Borneo are used in medicines as charms for the healing of the sick. In India the nut has long been used as a taenifuge for tapeworm. The action of Arecain resembles that of Muscarine and Pilocarpine externally, internally used it contracts the pupils.

Arecoline Hydrobromide, a commercial salt, is a stronger stimulant to the salivary glands than Pilocarpine and a more energetic laxative than Eserine. It is used for colic in horses.

Dosages and Preparations:—Of the powdered nut for tapeworm 1 to 2 teaspoonsful. Of the Fluid Extract of Areca Nut, 1 drachm. Of the Arecoline Hydrobromide, for colic in horses, 1 to 1 1/2 grains. Of the Arecoline Hydrobromide, for human use, 1/15 to 1/10 grains .

Uses based on some evidence:
Anemia:– Preliminary poor-quality research reports that betel nut chewing may lessen anemia in pregnant women. Reasons for this finding are not clear, and betel nut chewing may be unsafe during pregnancy.(Unclear scientific evidence for this use; )

Dental cavities:- Due to the known toxicities of betel nut use and the availability of other proven products for dental hygiene, the risks of betel nut may outweigh potential benefits.(Unclear scientific evidence for this use; )

Saliva stimulant:– Betel nut chewing may increase salivation. However, it is not clear if this is helpful for any specific health condition. Due to known toxicities from betel nut use, the risks may outweigh any potential benefits.(Unclear scientific evidence for this use; )

Schizophrenia:– Preliminary poor-quality studies in humans suggest improvements in symptoms of schizophrenia with betel nut chewing. However, side effects such as tremors and stiffness have been reported. More research is necessary before a firm conclusion can be drawn.(Unclear scientific evidence for this use; )

Stimulant:– Betel nut use refers to a combination of three ingredients: the nut of the betel palm ( Areca catechu ), part of the Piper betel vine, and lime. It is believed that small doses can lead to stimulant and euphoric effects, and betel nut chewing is popular due to these effects. Although all three ingredients may contribute to stimulant properties, most experts believe that chemicals in the betel nuts (alkaloids) may be responsible. Other substances that may be combined with betel nut chew, such as tobacco, may also contribute. However, chronic use of betel nuts may increase the risk of some cancers, and immediate effects can include worsening of asthma, high or low blood pressure, and abnormal heart rate. Based on the known toxicities of betel nut use, the risks may outweigh any potential benefits.(Unclear scientific evidence for this use; )

Stroke recovery:-Several poor-quality studies report the use of betel nut taken by mouth in patients recovering from stroke. In light of the potential toxicities of betel nut, additional evidence is needed in this area before a recommendation can be made (Unclear scientific evidence for this use; )

Ulcerative colitis:- Currently, there is a lack of satisfactory evidence to recommend the use of betel nut for ulcerative colitis. Based on the known toxicities of betel nut use, the risks may outweigh any potential benefits. (Unclear scientific evidence for this use; )
Traditional use: SANTAL(IndianTribals): (i) a patient of small pox is given to eat the areca nut when the pustules subside; (ii) a mixture for biliary colic is prepared with areca nut as a constituent; (iii) an ointment for chancre and syphilis is made by pestling areca nut with the root of Gymnema hirsutus, leaf of Piper betel and then cooking the same in mustard oil or butter; TRIBALS also use this plant in rhagadas, venereal sores, syphilis, dysentery, cholera, small pox and for fractured bones.

References to this plant are found in the BHAGVA TA along with the plants of Musa paradisica and Borassus fIabellifer. CHARAKA SAMHITA : Fruit: useful in the diseases caused by bile; SUSHRUTA SAMHITA : Fruit: beneficial in the diseases caused by phlegm; but overuse of this may distort voice of a man; CHACRADATTA : Paste of unripe fruit: may be used as liniment; Extract of unripe fruit: useful in small pox; HARITA SAMHITA : sesame oil in which extract of unripe fruit has been boiled should be used; A YURVEDA : various preparations of unripe and ripe nuts are useful in toothache, pyorrhea, gum diseases, in treatment of worms, while extract of young leaf mixed with mustard oil is useful as liniment in rheumatism; BRAHMAVAIVARTA PURANA : brushing the teeth with twig of this plant is beneficial; AGNI PURANA : (i) immortality can be attained by consuming decoction of this plant along with the powder of root, bark, leaf and fruit of margosa and juice of Wedelia calendulacea; (ii) alkaloids of this plant are beneficial medicine.

UNANI: Ingradient of ‘Futal (Chalia)’.

Modern use: Nut: chewing facilitates salivation, it being a good source of fluoride prevents tooth decay, but constant use might cause oral carcinoma; shows antimicrobial activities; Aqueous extract of nut: exhibits vascoconstriction and adrenalin p.Qtentiation in rats; Extract of leaf and fruit: spasmogenic.

Other Species:—In Malabar Areca Dicksoni is found growing wild and is used by the poor as a substitute for the true Betel Nut (A. aleraceae). The Cabbage Palm, which grows profusely in the West Indies, derives its name from the bud topping the tall stem; this consists of leaves wrapped round each other as in the cabbage, the heart of which is white inside. It has a delicate taste and is cut and cooked as a vegetable, many of these beautiful palms being destroyed in this way. It is said that in the empty cavity a beetle lays its eggs. These turn into maggots which are eaten with great relish by the negroes of Guiana.

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Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://www.bsienvis.org/medi.htm#Anacardium%20occidentale
http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/areca056.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Areca_catechu

The Sweet Flag

Botanical Name: Acorus calamus L. (Araceae)

Family: Acoraceae

Syn : Acorus griffithii Schott., A. belangeii Schott, A. casia Bertol.

Other Names: It is known by a variety of names, including cinnamon sedge, flagroot, gladdon, myrtle flag, myrtle grass, myrtle sedge, sweet cane, sweet myrtle, sweet root, sweet rush, and sweet sedge

English name: The sweet flag.

Sanskrit name: Vacha.

Vernacular names: Asm, Ben and Hin : Boch; Gui : Godavaj, Vekhand; Kan : Baje, Baje gida; Kon: Waikhand; Mal: Vayambu; Mar: Vekhand; Ori : Bacha; Pun: Bari, Boj, Warch; Tam: Vasamboo; Tel: Vasa.

Trade name: Boch.
Habitat :Throughout India; ascending the Himalaya up to 2000 m; Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh.Acorus calamus is now found across Europe, in southern Russia, northern Asia Minor, southern Siberia, China, Japan, Burma, Sri Lanka, and northern USA.

Description:
Perennial, erect, aromatic herb, common on river banks and marshes, ascending to 3000 m; rhizome cylindrical or slightly compressed, about 2.5 cm in diameter, much-branched, externally light brown or pinkish brown but white and spongy within; leaves distichous, large, 1-2 m in length, base equitant, margin waved; spadix sessile, cylindric, densely flowered, not completely enclosed by spathe, spathe 15-75 cm in length, narrow, leaf-like; flowers small, bisexual; berries few-seeded; seeds oblong, albuminous.

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The morphological distinction between the Acorus species is made by the number of prominent leaf veins. Acorus calamus has a single prominent midvein and then on both sides slightly raised secondary veins (with a diameter less than half the midvein) and many, fine tertiary veins. This makes it clearly distinct from Acorus americanus.

The leaves are between 0.7 and 1.7 cm wide, with average of 1 cm. The sympodial leaf of Acorus calamus is somewhat shorter than the vegetative leaves. The margin is curly-edged or undulate. The spadix, at the time of expansion, can reach a length between 4.9 and 8.9 cm (longer than A. americanus). The flowers are longer too, between 3 and 4 mm. Acorus calamus is infertile and shows an abortive ovary with a shriveled appearance.

This perennial’s natural habitat is shallow water and it’s best grown in a pond, pool, or other damp setting.Sweet flag is propagated by rhizome division. This is best done in the spring and fall. Rhizomes should be lifted in the second or third year. If left longer they may become hollow. Harvest the leaves and hang to dry in the fall. The fragrance intensifies during the drying process.

Phenology: Flowering and Fruiting: July-August; fruiting very rare.

Ecology and cultivation: Probably introduced; found from the coast to 1200 m; often near village wells and along watercourses; confined to marshy areas; gregarious herb from a stout horizontal rhizome; wild and cultivated.

Chemical contents: Dry rhizome :1.5-3.5% of a yellow aromatic volatile oil-calamus oil; the oil contains β-asarone, small quantities of sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpenes alcohols; Rhizome: also contains choline (0.26%), flavone, acoradin, 2,4,5-tri-MeO­benzaldehyde, 2,5-di-MeO-benzoquinone, galangin, calameone, acolamone, isoacolamone, epoxyisoacoragermacrone; Aerial parts: lutcolin-6,8-c-diglucoside; chemical constituents vary in ecotypes and polyploides.Both triploid and tetraploid calamus contain asarone, but diploid does not contain any.

Medicinal Uses:
Traditional use: SANTAL: use the plant in the following ways: (i) they mix and grind black pepper, cloves, root of Carissa carandus lo along with little of the rootstock of A. calamus lo, then stir the same in pure mustard oil-the emulsion, thus prepared is anointed daily over the whole body of the patient suffering form epilepsy with foaming and groaning, as soon as the fit comes on; a few drops of this emulsion should be poured into the nose of the patient; (ii) for the treatment of indigestion, they take pills made by grinding 100 black peppers, little amount of ginger and the root of A. calamus together; (iii) also use in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, cold and cough, dry cough, epilepsy, haemopty­sis, indigestion, phthisis; BIRHOR : Rhizome in alopecia, Root as massage, in fever, hysteria, pain in neck, teething trouble of children, malaria and cancer.

AGNI PURANA : this plant is of great medicinal value; it recommends the following uses: (i) for treatment of epilepsy, this plant should be boiled with Costus speciosus, shankhapushpi, along with the juice of Bacopa monnieri ; the substance thus obtained should be administered to the patient; (ii) drinking the decoction of this plant, Piper peepuloides, Staphyles emodi Wall., and Cyperus parviflorus Heyne and pippalimula is good for the patient of rheumatic arthritis; (iii) the powder or decoction of this plant helps curing chronic enlargement of spleen; (iv) decoction of the plant is beneficial for the patient of dropsy; A YURVEDA: Rhizome: bitter, healing, emetic, laxative, diuretic, carminative; improves voice and appetite; good for oral diseases, abdominal pain, epilepsy, bronchitis, hysteria, loss of memory, rat bite and worms in ear.

SIDDHA SYSTEM: fresh root for bronchial asthma.

UNANI: an ingredient of the medicine called ‘Waje-Turki’; useful in flatulent colic, chronic dyspepsia, catarrhal, in burn wounds, carminative, anthelmintic and as bitter tonic.

Modern use: Rhizome: aromatic, bitter, carminative, emetic, stimulant, stomachic, useful in dyspepsia, colic, remittent fevers, nerve tonic, in bronchitis, dysentery, epilepsy and other mental ailments, glandular and abdominal tumours and in snake bite.The rhizome is used to alleviate stomach acidity.


Remark: Rhizomes are valued for indigenous medicine.

Culinary Uses:
Leaves can be used as a substitute for vanilla pods. Try leaving a few leaves in a jar of sugar for a few days for vanilla-flavored sugar. They can also be cut up and stored in dry foods to prevent infestation by weevils. Leaves and rhizomes are a nice addition to potpourri.

Click to see :Acorus calamus at Plants for a Future And Your Online Guide To Herbs

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Adulterants: The powdered drug has been adulterated with siliceous earth, ground marsh mallow root and cereal flowers.

Regulations:
Calamus and products derived from calamus (such as its oil) were banned in 1968 as food additives and medicines by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://www.bsienvis.org/medi.htm#Acorus%20calamus
http://www.gardenguides.com/plants/info/herbs/sweetfla.asp
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_Flag