Acorus calamus / Kalmoes

Acorus calamus (Latein)

Acorus calamus, Rhizom

Mehrjährige schilfähnliche Wasserpflanze mit langen, kriechenden Rhizomen. Die aromatischen, ziemlich breiten (gewöhnlich mehr als 15 mm) Blätter besitzen eine deutliche Mittelrippe. Winzige Blüten stehen in länglichen Blütenkolben. Die zweite Art, der Grasblättrige Kalmus (A. gramineus), ist als shi chang pu in der TCM wohl bekannt. Er besitzt nichtaromatische, schmale Blätter (unter 10 mm breit), denen die deutliche Mittelrippe fehlt.


Indien bis Neuguinea; in den nördlichen gemäßigten Klimazonen vermutlich nicht heimisch, sondern eingebürgert. A. gramineus ist in China, Japan und Südostasien heimisch.

Verwendete Teile

Rhizome (frisch oder getrocknet, ganz oder pulverisiert).


Bitteres Tonikum (Amarum), stimulierend.


Man verwendet die aromatischen, bitteren Rhizome zur Behandlung von Verdauungsstörungen und Blähungen oder zur Appetitanregung. Kalmus wird traditionell vorwiegend als verdauungs- und blähungslinderndes Mittel genutzt, gelegentlich auch als Brechmittel sowie als Krampflösungs- und Anregungsmittel, ferner gegen Würmer. Die Droge lindert anscheinend Magenkrämpfe, chronische Ruhr und Asthma; ferner soll sie stärkend auf das Nervensystem wirken und wurde in der ayurvedischen und Traditionellen Chinesischen Medizin angewendet.

Zubereitung und Dosierung

Allgemein werden Tinkturen verwendet; getrocknetes oder kandiertes Rhizom kann jedoch auch gekaut oder als Tee getrunken werden.


Das ätherische Öl enthält Monoterpene (Farnesen, Geranylacetat, Camphen, p-Cymen, Linalool), Sesquiterpene (Acorenon); insbesondere Phenylpropanderivate (β-Asaron; =cis-Isoasaron) bei der indischen Varietät.


Die krampflösenden Eigenschaften des ätherischen Öls und die beruhigende Wirkung des Hauptinhaltsstoff (β-Asaron) wurden bei der indischen Varietät nachgewiesen. Asaron und die Monoterpene besitzen antimikrobielle Eigenschaften.

Hinweise und Umgang

In den meisten Ländern wird Kalmus in Verdauungsmitteln nicht länger eingesetzt, da es mögliche schädliche Nebenwirkungen durch β-Asaron gibt (mutagene und embryotoxische Eigenschaften). Die europäische Varietät enthält nur Spuren von β-Asaron und ist manchmal für Nahrungsmittel zugelassen.

Acorus calamus (Sweet flag) has a long history of use and has numerous traditional and ethnomedicinal applications. Since ancient times, it has been used in various systems of medicines such as Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Chinese medicine, etc. for the treatment of various aliments like nervous disorders, appetite loss, bronchitis, chest pain, colic, cramps, diarrhea, digestive disorders, flatulence, gas, indigestion, rheumatism, sedative, cough, fever, bronchitis, inflammation, depression, tumors, hemorrhoids, skin diseases, numbness, general debility and vascular disorders. Various therapeutic potentials of this plant have been attributed to its rhizome. A number of active constituents from leaves, rhizomes and essential oils of A. calamus have been isolated and characterized. Of the constituents, alpha and beta-asarone are the predominant bioactive components. Various pharmacological activities of A. calamus rhizome such as sedative, CNS depressant, anticonvulsant, antispasmodic, cardiovascular, hypolipidemic, immunosuppressive, anti-inflammatory, cryoprotective, antioxidant, antidiarrheal, antimicrobial, anticancer and antidiabetic has been reported. Genotoxicity and mutagenecity of beta and alpha-asarone is reported, which limits their use at high dosage. Though A. calamus has been used since ancient times, many of its uses are yet to be scientifically validated. In the present review an attempt has been made to explore traditional uses and pharmacological properties of A. calamus.

Calamus (Acorus calamus, Acoraceae) rhizome, consumed widely in the ancient world, is restricted by the US Food and Drug Administration due to its beta-asarone, a known carcinogenic content.1,2 There are rhizomes that are beta-asarone free, but they have been hard to certify as such. Traditional applications include treatment for eye diseases, fevers (typhoid), vertigo, dysentery, and nervous issues. In the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, calamus treatments include gastritis, gastric ulcer, intestinal colic, anorexia, and chronic dyspepsia.1 In Turkey and India, the candied rhizome is consumed for coughs, bronchitis, and indigestion. Historically, the dried rhizomes were included as ingredients in bitters and vermouths, and the essential oil in liqueurs and sweets.2

The calamus (A. americanus) variety found in the Americas has been chewed (dried rhizomes) in sweat lodges and pow-wows to help numb vocal cords alleviating the hoarseness often experienced in long ceremonies.3 A small piece of the rhizome can be chewed or even just held in the mouth allowing saliva to increase. Chewing the rhizome also allows for increased range and centering the singer’s energy. Calamus rhizome is also thought to increase stamina. The rhizome was used in much the same way as coca (Erythroxylum coca, Erythroxylaceae) leaves in the Andes as a stimulant, to allay hunger. and to boost stamina. The plant seems to have been cultivated along travel routes in North America, perhaps to aid in these applications.

While calamus can also stimulate attention, it is also considered a relaxant. In this harmonizing effect, it increases “the expression of the vital force, while [relaxing] resistance to that expression.” Culpepper stated that it “strengthens the stomach and head” and it was used for conditions related to nervousness and anxiety.

Ayurvedic medicine has used it for thousands of years as a brain and nervous system rejuvenative.4 It is said to sharpen memory, enhance awareness, and aid in cerebral circulation, as well as clear toxins and obstructions from the subtle channels. Ayurvedic practitioners consider calamus to facilitate vacha (speaking) and prescribe it to promote self-expression. Calamus rhizome is also said to promote sexual energy and increase kundalini. Therapeutic actions include expectorant, decongestant, stimulant, and antispasmodic. Calamus has been used in cases of asthma, neuralgia, shock, epilepsy, coma, deafness, and loss of memory. A paste can be applied externally to arthritic joints and to the forehead for headaches to relieve pain. According to Frawley and Lad, calamus is considered one of the best herbs for nasal applications for nasal congestion and for increasing prana.


1Lawless J. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils. San Francisco, CA: Conari Press; 2013.

2Tucker AO, Debaggio T. The Encyclopedia of Herbs – A Comprehensive Reference to Herbs of Flavor and Fragrance. 2nd ed. Portland, OR: Timber Press,;2009.

3McDonald J. Sweet flag/bitterroot. Jim McDonald Herbalist website. Accessed April 21, 2021.

4Frawley D, Lad V. The Yoga of Herbs – An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press; 1986.