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All About Sweet Flag | Know Your Spice Gorabach (Acorus calamus)

All About Sweet Flag | Know Your Spice Gorabach (Acorus calamus)

All About Sweet Flag | Know Your Spice Gorabach (Acorus calamus)

All About Sweet Flag | Know Your Spice Gorabach (Acorus calamus)

It is also known as Calamus, Sweet Rush or Sweet Cinnamon

Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus) is also known as Calamus, Sweet Rush or Sweet Cinnamon although the roots taste like ginger. Also known as Calamus it has a spicy fragrance to it with the leaves having lemony overtones.

In medieval times the dried stalks were laid on floors to act as a scented mat to walk on.

It’s a forager’s treat, as you can eat the raw, partially grown flower stems of calamus. In Spring, the young stalks, with half-grown leaves packed inside them, are sweet and tasty raw in a salad.

The roots are edible, with a sort of gingery, spicy, bitter, sweetness to them.

Calamus is used by foragers as a spice, to replace cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg. In the Ayurvedic medicine it was used to keep the voice going when reciting the Upanishads.

It is called vacha meaning literally ‘to speak” but also referring to the way it connects the heart to the voice, helping anxious people feel able to speak up about things on their mind.

What are the other names of Sweet Flag?

Gorabach or Calamus names in other languages are given below.
Indian Languages Other Languages
Hindi: Gorabach, Bach
Bengali: Bach
Gujarati:
Gandhilovaj
Kannada: Baje, Bajegda
Malayalam
: Vayampe
Marathi: Vekhand
Punjabi:
Bacha
Sanskrit:
Bhadra, Bulami, Vacha
Tamil:
Vashambu
Telugu:
Vadaja, Vasa
Latin (Botanical): Acorus calamus
Arabic: Tharirah
Chinese:
Shi Chang Pu
Dutch:
Kalmoes, Zwanenbrood
English: Sweet Root, Sweet Sedge, Calamus
French:
Acore vrai, Acore, Acore calame
German: Magenwurz, Schwanenbrot, Kalmus
Italian: Acoro, Calamo Aromatic, Calamo
Spanish: Calamís, Cálamo Aromatic, Acoro
Swedish
: Kalmus, Rohtokalmojuuri, Kalmusrot

What exactly is Sweet Flag?

Get to know more about Gorabach (Acorus calamus)

Spice card – all about sweet flag | know your spice gorabach (acorus calamus)

Sweet Flag is a perennial herb, semi aquatic, marshy plant with a creeping and much branched, aromatic rhizome.

Its botanical name is Acorus calamus and belongs to the Acoraceae.

The rhizome is cylindrical about 19-25 mm in diameter and 10 cm long. It is light brown outside, white and spongy inside.

Sweet flag is a native to most Northern latitude countries around the world, widely dispersed around the USA. It is found wild or cultivated in India and Sri Lanka up to 1800 meters.

The leaves are thick, erect and sword shape, when bruised emits strong scent. Sweet flag produces small yellow flowers on a spike. Plants rarely flower or set seed

What is the nutritional value of Sweet Flag?

Find out about the nutritional value of Gorabach (Acorus calamus)

Sweet Flag has  of high moisture (68.02 %) and ash (17.3 %) and protein (15.62 %) contents.

The carbohydrate (37.26 %), crude lipid (0.00057 %), crude fiber (6.6 %) contents and vitamins (ascorbic acid, beta carotene and tocopherol) were found in appreciable quantity.

The total energy value was estimated at 121.65 Kcal/100 g and total free amino acid content was 25.71 µg/500mg.

Mineral analyses recorded highest value for Potassium (K) and the lowest value for Phosphorus (P). The other elements like Sodium (Na), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Zinc (Zn) and Copper (Cu) were also found in sufficient amount.

The rhizome was also found to contain anti-nutritional factors such as tannins (0.32 µg/g), phytic acid (935.43 mg/100g), phenols (113.68 µg/g) and trypsin inhibitor unit (3.02 mg/g).

What is the chemical composition of Sweet Flag?

Know and understand about chemical composition of Gorabach (Acorus calamus)

Calamus contains constituents such as alkaloids, flavonoids, gums, lectins, mucilage, phenols, quinone, saponins, sugars, tannins, and triterpenes (steroids).

Calamenone (a tricyclic sesquiterpene) as well as calamendiol and isocalamendiol (both sesquiterpenes) also occur in the roots.

The oil’s constituents include acoramone and phenylpropane derivatives (α-asarone, β-asarone, γ-asarone, isoeugenol, and methyl ether.

As a product of supercritical extraction from the rhizomes, the oil contained as major constituents acorenone (13.4%), iso-acorone (11.6%), Z-sesquilavandulol (11%), dehydroxy isocalamendiol (7.7%), and β-asarone (5.5%).

What is the history of Sweet Flag?

Know more about the origins & the story behind Gorabach (Acorus calamus)

One of the earliest records of sweet flag is the calamus of the Bible. It was first mentioned when God told Moses to make a holy oil to anoint the tabernacle, the ark of testimony, and other ritual paraphernalia (Exodus 30:23, 24, 34).

Calamus was also one of the plants said to grow in the gardens of Solomon (Solomon 4:14). Sweet flag was also used by the early Greeks and Romans.

Hippocrates (460‑ 377 B.C.) used the plant medicinally and in early herbals of the first century Dioscorides and Pliny referred to a plant called acoron, which appears to be sweet flag.

Theophrastus (371‑287 B.C.) mentioned calamus in his works, and Celsus reported its presence in Indian markets nearly two thousand years ago.

Aphrodisiac properties were attributed to the rhizome by the Roman and Arabic cultures for centuries.

The aroma is likened to ginger and used in India when ginger is not available. It is also chewed to freshen the breath.

On the Chinese New Year, Cantonese cleaned out their homes and placed the sword-shaped leaves near the door. Beneath them was placed a pair of red scrolls bearing an inscription, for example: (The sweet flag, like a sword, destroys a thousand evil influences.)

In olden times, sweet flag, or calamus, was recommended by Taoists as having the power to bestow immortality.

Native Americans of the Great Lakes region weave fragrant sweet flag baskets, and those of Penobscot, Maine, believed it had protective and healing powers.

Wisconsin and Minnesota Indians soak their nets in an infusion made of sweet flag and sarsaparilla, for catching white fish. It is said the net still smelled of the decoction after being in water for 12 hours.

The Egyptians used sweet flag for the legendary disease of scrofula, but it should be combined with supporting, more effective herbs for this chronic condition.

Originally, China and India were the motherlands of Calamus, or sweet flag, which was first taken to Russia in the 11th century when the Mongolians overcame the Russian territory.

Tartars (Mongolians) considered that sweet flag purified the water. When they planned on settling in a new territory, sweet flag was always planted near the watering place to ensure of pure drinking water for the horses.

What are the uses of Sweet Flag?

How is Gorabach used?
  • The rhizomes of sweet flag (Acorus calamus) are used for numerous medicinal purposes. The herb is used both internally as well as externally.
  • Dried and powdered rhizome has a spicy flavour and is used as a substitute for ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg for its odour.
  • Sweet flag was heavily used by perfumers and makers of powdered wigs.
  • Dutch children were given the rhizomes as a form of chewing gum or as a crystallized candy.
  • Benedictine and Chartreuse liqueurs were flavored with the herb, as well as many liqueurs, beers, bitters, tonics and gin as late as the 1960’s.
  • The famous Stockton bitters include calamus.
  • Sweet flag was also once used in tooth powders.
  • The dry shampoos of the 1960’s and 1970’s contained calamus root.
  • It has been used magically for luck, healing, money, and protection.

What does Sweet Flag taste like?

What is the the taste of Gorabach?

Calamus root has a pungent aroma, the flavour being initially sweet, similar to a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger with a bitter aftertaste.

How Much Sweet Flag Should I Use?

What is the the recommended quantity of Gorabach for a day?

Calamus is used by foragers as a spice, to replace cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg, but a little goes a long way.

The dose varies from person to person. Some Native Americans would set the limit as – a root as long as your little finger.

In herbal medicine, the maximum dose that is generally recommended is 4g of the dried root (about 3/4 of a teaspoon), 30ml of a decoction and 4 ml of 1:5 tincture up to three times a day.


Dried sweet flag or calamus


What are the ayurvedic properties of Sweet Flag?

Information about ayurvedic details of Gorabach (Acorus calamus).

Rasa (Taste): Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter)
Guna (Qualities): Laghu (light), Tikshna (Sharp)
Veerya (Potency): Usna (Hot)
Vipaka (Taste conversion after digestion): Katu (Pungent)
Karma (Actions): Pacifies Kapha & Pitta, increases Vata


What can I use Sweet Flag for?

Learn how to use Gorabach (Acorus calamus) in your food & beverages.
  • The dried and powdered rhizome is rich in starch and has a spicy flavor and is used as a substitute for ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • The rhizome is starchy, but can be used like taro and is also candied and often washed, peeled and eaten uncooked.
  • A pinch of the powdered rhizome is used as a flavoring in tea.
  • Young leaves can be used to flavor custards in the same way as vanilla pods.
  • The inner portion of young stems can be eaten raw and added to salad.
  • Can flavour vinegar.
  • The leaves are also used as insecticide and insect repellants.
  • You may eat the flowers for their sweetness.
  • Sometimes the leaves are used like vanilla pods are for flavouring custards and milk puddings.

How do I prepare Sweet Flag for food?

Learn how to prepare Gorabach (Acorus calamus) in your food & beverages.

You can chew the root fresh or dried. You can also make an infusion by leaving the root in a jar of cold water overnight or adding hot water to half a teaspoon of powdered calamus.

How long does Sweet Flag last?

Learn about how long does Gorabach (Acorus calamus) last in storage.

They should be stored in a cool dry place, but not longer than one year. After this the roots has lost most of its active principle. The fragrance increases during the drying process.

How do I store Sweet Flag?

Learn about how to store Gorabach (Acorus calamus).

Sweet flag rhizomes are best stored sliced and dried. Store in a cool and dry place away from sunlight and moisture. Keep it in an airtight container after opening.

Is there a substitute for Sweet Flag?

Learn how to use a substitute for Gorabach (Acorus calamus) if unavailable

The dried and powdered rhizome is rich in starch and has a spicy flavor and is used as a substitute for ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg and vice versa.

Where do I buy Sweet Flag from?

Where to Locate Gorabach (Acorus calamus) in the Grocery Store?

Sweet Flag root & powder should be readily available in most large grocery stores and specialty markets on the spice racks. You can also order it online via amazon.

What are the health benefits of Sweet Flag?

Learn about health benefits of Gorabach (Acorus calamus)

The following are health benefits of Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus) or Gorabach

  • Health Benefits of Sweet Flag to Maintain a Healthy Stomach – It may prevent stomach disorders and colitis. It is an excellent anti-flatulent and works well to heal indigestion in infants.
  • Health Benefits of Gorabach for Preventing Hair Lice – Sweet Flag oil is a natural insecticide and this property makes it effective in killing lice. It is safe for external application and gentle on the skin, hence applying it on the scalp does not cause any harm.
  • Health Benefits of Sweet Flag for Blood Circulation – Calamus root helps to stimulate the blood circulation. It is useful for you if you have a pain and swelling which is related with rheumatism, arthritis, and gout.
  • Health Benefits of Gorabach to Combat Tobacco Addiction – Chewing the calamus root can create a dislike for the taste of tobacco.
  • Health Benefits of Sweet Flag for Mouth Disorders – Sweet flag is useful to treat mouth ulcers, bad odors, coating and rawness of tongue causes by inflammation.
  • Health Benefits of Gorabach to Fights Depression, Epilepsy and Boosting Memory: It is known to calm nerves and helps improve a person’s memory. Being similar to a nerve tonic it helps a person to relax and rid one’s self off stress and depression.
  • Health Benefits of Sweet Flag for Increasing Appetite: Root of the calamus plant also has helps in increasing the appetite of the stomach and also helps in lowering acidity problems of the stomach.
  • Health Benefits of Gorabach for Diabetes: Research has discovered evidence that calamus increases insulin sensitivity, may possess hypoglycemic effects.
  • Health Benefits of Sweet Flag for Sound: Laryngitis, caused or aggravated by speaking, yelling or singing is a specific indication for its use.

All About Sweet Flag | Know Your Spice Gorabach (Acorus calamus)
Print

Sweet Flag Tea or Calamus Tea

Sweet Flag Tea or Calamus Tea - Drink this Sweet Flag tea to add its benefits to your skin, mouth, and respiratory health.
Course Beverage, Tea
Cuisine World
Diet Diabetic, Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword Calamus, Calamus Tea, Make Calamus Tea, Make Sweet Flag Tea, Sweet Flag, Sweet Flag Tea
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 3 Serving
Calories 5kcal
Author Sumit Malhotra

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Sweet Flag or Calamus Root
  • 1200 ml Water

Instructions

  • Take calamus root (1 tbsp), clean it and boil in water (1200 ml).
  • Filter and drink 3-4 times a day (half cup at a time).

Notes

  • The rhizome of Sweet Flag has stomachic, carminative and nervine effects in smaller doses. It is used in the treatment of diseases of the body and mind.
  • It is given to improve memory and functioning of brain.

Tools & Equipment Used For This Recipe

The links below the image lead to product links on Amazon.in & Amazon.com respectively

Saucepan

Strainer

FInally! To Sum It Up

All About Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus) | Uses & Health Benefits of Sweet Flag

Spice card – all about sweet flag | know your spice gorabach (acorus calamus)

Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus) is also known as Calamus, Sweet Rush or Sweet Cinnamon although the roots taste like ginger. Also known as Calamus it has a spicy fragrance to it with the leaves having lemony overtones.

In medieval times the dried stalks were laid on floors to act as a scented mat to walk on.

It’s a forager’s treat, as you can eat the raw, partially grown flower stems of calamus. In Spring, the young stalks, with half-grown leaves packed inside them, are sweet and tasty raw in a salad.

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