Vasambu, acorus calamus (botanical name) is a wetland plant native to India, Asia, Russia, Siberia and Europe. It is also called sweet flag among many other names particular to each region. The root of the plant itself is called vasambu and it has a special unique fragrance. Click this link to see how it can be used for babies.

Even though this herb is popular for its health benefits for new born and children, it provides various health benefits for adults too. This can be seen from the fact that vasambu had been a trading commodity for centuries among various countries as cultural and medicinal values are attached to it.

It has been in use in traditional medicine over a period of time particularly in India and China. The leaves of the plant, stems and its roots are widely used in Indian system of Siddha and Ayurveda medicines.

Rhizomes of the plant are used to cure helminthic infections (Helminths are parasitic worms which includes leeches at times). Rhizomes are root like horizontal stem of the plant growing underground above the root of the plant.

Some of the major benefits of vasambu for adults are:

  • Digestive system: Consumption of vasambu regulates the stomach acid and remove disorders in the digestive system. It acts as an appetizer and enhance digestion too. It cures bloating, flatulence and facilitate easy digestion. Ash of the burnt root is mixed with castor oil and applied on the abdomen to cure bloating. IT also stops acid reflux. Stomach ulcers and gastric disorders are also cured. By removing the disorders in the digestive system vasambu facilitates easy movement of feces and prevents constipation.
  • Spleen and liver disorders are removed by consumption of the powder with honey. The same also cures elephantiasis on regular consumption.
  • Muscle stiffness or contraction, nervous disorders are removed by consumption of vasambu. It cures neuralgia and paralysis upon consumption over a period of time.
  • All types of poison is removed from the body. Even people who have consumed poison can beV saved by administering three spoons of vasambu powder in honey. Entire poison will come out of the body.
  • It acts as a good germicide and it can kill tape worms in the stomach.
  • Powder of vasambu made into a paste with honey and consumed regularly in the early mornings to cure stammering. It has the potential to trigger the speech center of the brain thereby removing speech disorders. It facilitates proper movement of the tongue essential to remove stammering.
  • Dysentery and malarial fever are cured by regular consumption.
  • Sore throat is cured by chewing a piece of the root. While chewing it produces significant heat in the mouth but cures cough and sore throat quickly. It acts as an expectorant and dilutes the phlegm and remove it from the body.
  • Consumption of just half a gram of the powder regularly cures all cutaneous diseases, gastralgia and remove body weakness.
  • Chewing the root prevents the body from contacting contagious diseases.
  • Body pain due to fever and wounds are cured.
  • External application of vasambu reduces swellings in the body.
  • Decoction made from vasambu with water is consumed to reduce depression and to cure epilepsy as it has the potential to cure nerves disorders.
  • Chewing the root can take people out of addiction to smoking.
  • It is also used as an ingredient in ayurvedic medicines prepared for speech disorder, massages to remove stiffness in joints, to improve memory and intelligence, depression, some eye disorders like cataract.

Vasambu can be used by the following methods to derive appropriate benefits.

  • The root is not to be swallowed in its raw form and only the powder is used.
  • Boil the root pieces well in water so as to reduce the water to half the original quantity and then strain the same. About 15 to 30 ml can be consumed at a time.
  • The root is directly burnt in a flame and made into ash. The ash is then mixed with water and consumed. The burnt ash can be mixed with honey and chewed.
  • Burnt root can be scrubbed on a stone, made into a paste with honey and then chewed.

As a word of caution, consumption of this root is not generally prone to any side effects. However in some people like pregnant women or naturally have increased body heat, it must be carefully used watching the symptoms. Particularly it should not be used during lactating periods. Moreover as the root could contract the uterus, it is not advisable to be used by pregnant women. Overdose of vasambu may cause nausea.

Kripa Sivasubramanian, MBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. After a long stint in the Technology sector, she took up courses in natural medicine and yoga. Ms. Kripa is certified in Ayurvedic yoga for Dosha. She is also certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.