Calamus

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What other names is Calamus known by?

Acore Odorant, Acore Olorant, Acore Roseau, Acorus americanus, Acorus calamus, Acorus gramineus, Acorus Roseau, Bach, Belle-Angélique, Cálamo, Cinnamon Sedge, Flagroot, Gladdon, Grass-Leaf Sweetflag, Grass Myrtle, Kalmus, Myrtle Flag, Myrtle Sedge, Sadgrantha, Sweet Calamus, Sweet Cane, Sweet Cinnamon, Sweet Flag, Sweet Grass, Sweet Myrtle, Sweet Root, Sweet Rush, Sweet Sedge, Ugragandha, Vach, Vacha, Vachha, Vaj, Vayambur.

What is Calamus?

Calamus is a plant. The root (rhizome) is used to make medicine.

Despite safety concerns, calamus is used for gastrointestinal (GI) problems including ulcers, inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis), intestinal gas (flatulence), upset stomach and loss of appetite (anorexia). Calamus is also used as a calming medicine (sedative), to induce sweating, and to treat rheumatoid arthritis and stroke.

Some people chew calamus to remove the smell of tobacco, as a stimulant, to increase their sense of well-being, and as a hallucinogen.

Some people apply calamus directly to the skin to treat certain skin diseases.

In foods, calamus is used as a spice.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of calamus for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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How does Calamus work?

It is thought that chemicals in calamus cause muscle relaxation and sedation.

Are there safety concerns?

Calamus is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth. It can cause kidney damage, shaking, and seizures.

The FDA prohibits calamus use in food products because three of the four species of calamus found in the world contain a cancer-causing chemical called beta-isoasarone. However, the beta-isoasarone content can vary widely among species from 0% to 96%. Some products may be safer than others.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Calamus is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy or breast-feeding. Avoid use.

Heart conditions: Calamus might lower blood pressure and heart rate. In theory, large amounts of calamus might worsen heart problems in some people with heart conditions.

Low blood pressure: Calamus might lower blood pressure. In theory, taking calamus might make blood pressure become too low in people with low blood pressure.

Surgery: Calamus can affect the central nervous system. It might cause too much sleepiness if combined with medications used during and after surgery. If you are using calamus despite safety concerns, stop using it at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Drying medications (Anticholinergic drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Calamus might increase levels of certain chemical in the body that work in the brain, heart, and elsewhere. Some drying medications called "anticholinergic drugs" can also increase these chemicals, but in a different way. These drying medications might decrease the effects of calamus, and calamus might decrease the effects of drying medications.

Some of these drying medications include atropine, scopolamine, some medications used for allergies (antihistamines), and some medications used for depression (antidepressants).



Medications for Alzheimer's disease (Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Calamus might increase certain chemicals in the brain, heart, and elsewhere in the body. Some medications for Alzheimer's disease also affect these chemicals. Taking calamus along with medications for Alzheimer's disease might increase effects and side effects of medications used for Alzheimer's disease.



Medications for depression (MAOIs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Calamus contains a chemical that affects the body. This chemical might increase the side effects of some medications used for depression.

Some of these medications used for depression include phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and others.



Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Calamus might reduce blood pressure. Taking calamus along with medications used for lowering high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low. Do not take too much calamus if you are taking medications for high blood pressure.

Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDiuril), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.



Sedative medications (CNS depressants)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Calamus might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking calamus along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.

Some sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.



Various medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions (Cholinergic drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Calamus might increase certain chemicals in the brain, heart, and elsewhere in the body. Some medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions also affect these chemicals. Taking calamus with these medications might increase the chance of side effects.

Some of these medications for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions include pilocarpine (Pilocar and others), donepezil (Aricept), tacrine (Cognex), and others.



Antacids
Interaction Rating: Minor Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Antacids are used to decrease stomach acid. Calamus may increase stomach acid. By increasing stomach acid, calamus might decrease the effectiveness of antacids.

Some antacids include calcium carbonate (Tums, others), dihydroxyaluminum sodium carbonate (Rolaids, others), magaldrate (Riopan), magnesium sulfate (Bilagog), aluminum hydroxide (Amphojel), and others.



Medications that decrease stomach acid (H2-blockers)
Interaction Rating: Minor Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Calamus might increase stomach acid. By increasing stomach acid, calamus might decrease the effectiveness of some medications that decrease stomach acid, called H2-blockers.

Some medications that decrease stomach acid include cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac), nizatidine (Axid), and famotidine (Pepcid).



Medications that decrease stomach acid (Proton pump inhibitors)
Interaction Rating: Minor Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Calamus might increase stomach acid. By increasing stomach acid, calamus might decrease the effectiveness of medications that are used to decrease stomach acid, called proton pump inhibitors.

Some medications that decrease stomach acid include omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), rabeprazole (Aciphex), pantoprazole (Protonix), and esomeprazole (Nexium).

Dosing considerations for Calamus.

The appropriate dose of calamus depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for calamus. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
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Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

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