Acorus Calamus

Acorus calamus is commonly known as Sweet Flag or Calamus. Acorus calamus is known for producing mild psychoactive stimulant effects and extreme nausea if over used. Rare reports of psychedelic effects are attributed to Acorus calamus, but in most cases nothing more than mild psychoactive stimulant effects are reported.


Active Compounds

The propenylbenzenes beta-asarone and alpha-asarone are believed to be the primary psychoactive compounds of calamus.

The closely related allylbenzene gamma-asarone is also found in some varieties of calamus, and is also claimed to be active. The European triploid varietry of calamus found in Czech was reported to have up to 25.45% gamma-asarone[2].

However, it's more likely that metabolites of these compounds are responsible for the psychoactive effects reported. Anecdotal reports of full blown psychedelic effects from calamus do exist, but they are extremely rare, and likely attributed to potent metabolites of beta-asarone or alpha-asarone forming rarely in certain individuals. This phenomenon is more commonly known for allylbenzenes, such as those found in nutmeg, which produces psychoactive effects more often in individuals than calamus does. See Oilahuasca Activation for more details on this phenomenon.


Essential Oil

Calamus essential oil has been used for hundreds of years for various ailments.

The oral dosage of the essential oil should not exceed 2-3 drops. It can cause extremely painful nausea if over used.

The compounds of calamus vary greatly by region and strain. It's important to note that different sources of the essential oil will also vary dramatically in their content.

Calamus essential oil from Indian.[1]

Compound % of essential oil
Alpha-asarone 58
Beta-asarone 2
asaronaldehyde 8
α-terpineol 2
calamol 2%

Calamus essential oil from Nepal. (This GC analysis comes from a vendor.)

Compound % of essential oil
Terpinolene (Alpha terpinolene) 0.41
Delta cadinene 0.5
Trans beta ocimene 0.78
12-nor-caryophyll-5-en-2-on 1.24
Nerolidol z and e 1.37
Elemicin 1.54
Methyl isoeugenol 2.44
Farnesol isomer a 2.53
Alpha-asarone 2.64
Beta-asarone 84.77

Calamus essential oil from Korea. (This GC analysis comes from a vendor.)

Compound % of essential oil
(E)-methyl isoeugenol 0.29
(Z)-methyl isoeugenol 17.7
1,4-dihydro-1,1,4,4-tetramethyl-2,3-naphthalene dione 0.2
8-hydroxy-delta-cadinene 2.48
8-hydroxy-gamma-cadinene 0.8
acolamone 3.09
acoragermacrone 7.38
acorenone 0.24
alpha-calacorene 1.3
alpha-copaene 0.07
alpha-muurolol 1.18
alpha-terpineol 0.14
beta-asarone 2.85
beta-calacorene 0.3
beta-caryophyllene 0.33
beta-cubebene 0.14
beta-elemene 0.48
beta-guaiene 0.9
beta-gurjunene 0.12
beta-gurjurene 0.31
borneol 0.11
cadala-1,4,9-triene 2.46
calamendiol 0.86
calamenene 14.7
calamenone 0.6
calamusenone 0.73
camphor 0.24
delta-cadinene 3.72
elemol 0.6
epi-alpha-muurolol 1.7
epi-shyobunone 0.82
isoacolamone 3.25
isocalamendiol 8.37
isoshyobunone 0.08
linalool 0.21
methyl eugenol 0.58
shyobunone 5.03
terpinen-4-ol 0.22

Calamus essential oil from Japan.[1]

Compound Chemotype 1 (6)† Chemotype 2 (12)† Chemotype 3 (2)†
(Z)-methyl isoeuginol 0–2.9 0–11.3 1.6–7.6
Epi-shyobunone 0.6–5.1 4.1–10.3 10.7–12.1
Shyobunone 1.0–4.8 7.1–15.2 14.3–22.1
Elemicin 1.4–1.7 0–3.7 0.7–2.2
Preisocalaminidiol 1.2–6.2 9.4–28.9 22.8–34.9
Beta-asarone 64.7–92.1 23.5–48.7 6.0–8.1
Alpha-asarone 1.8–10.0 1.4–13.8 2.6–4.1
Other constituents 0.4–10.9 7.7–34.4 24.1–26.1
Calamus essential oil from Mongolia. (This GC analysis comes from a vendor.)
Compound % of essential oil
(E)-beta-farnesene 1
(E)-beta-ocimene 0.8
(E)-methyl isoeugenol 0.8
(Z)-beta-ocimene 0.6
1,8-cineole 1.1
6-epi-shyobunone 3.7
acorenone 14.4
acorone 0.9
alpha-bergamotene 1
alpha-cadinol 0.7
alpha-copaene 0.3
alpha-phellandrene 0.2
alpha-pinene 0.7
alpha-selinene 0.7
alpha-terpinene 0.4
beta-elemene 0.5
beta-pinene 0.9
bornyl acetate 4.6
calamendiol 1.4
calamusenone 0.5
camphene 0.5
camphor 1.5
delta-cadinene 1.3
delta-elemene 0.5
isoacorone 5.7
isoshyobunone 13.1
limonene 1.1
linalool 1.3
myrcene 0.7
preisocalamendiol 12.1
shyobunone 0.5
terpinen-4-ol 1.1
Calamus essential oil from various areas of Asia.[1]
Compound 1 (1)† 2 (1)† 3 (1)† 4 (8)† 5 (3)† 6 (2)† 7 (1)† 8 (2)†
Methyl eugenol 0–1.6
(Z)-methyl isoeuginol 1.2 1.6 0 0.3–9 0–0.7 0–2.9 87.3 0–1.3
Epi-shyobunone 1.8 0.7 3.4 0–1.1 0–3.5 2.2–3.0
(E)-methyl isoeuginol 0–1.6
Shyobunone 2.2 14.3 4.5 0–1.3 0–5.3 2.8–4.0
Elemicin 1.7 2.2 0.6 0–1.6 0–0.7 0.5–2.3 42.7–72.7
Preisocalaminidiol 3.0 34.9 1.4 0–4.5 5.0–12.0 4.4–7.7
Beta-asarone 85.7 8.1 20.9 73.8–96.3 10.2–17.9 43.6–53.7 12.7 25.7–37.3
Alpha-asarone 2.6 4.1 3.5 1.8–15.0 0–6.0 3.9–4.5 1.6–2.4
Other constituents 1.8 24.1 65.7 0–13.6 55.9–85.1 29.0–35.5 0–13.0

1. Cultivated Osaka, Japan
2. Cultivated Hokkldo, Japan.
3. Cultivated Chongging, China.
4. Various Asian sources.
5. Three areas in China.
6. Henen, China.
7. Jllin, China.
8. Hubei, China.
† Number of samples.


Bibliography
1. Handbook of herbs and spices Volume 2
K. V. Peter; Woodhead Publishing, 2004; ISBN 1855737213, 9781855737211
2. The Finnish National Program Supporting Conservation and Use of Plant Genetic Resources on 2003–2008.
Merja Veteläinen. MTT AgriFood Research Finland; 2008; ISBN 978-952-487-207-2; ISSN 1458-5103 Download Attached PDF Document
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