Material: Roots of tall, fragrant, sword-leaved plant found in
marshes and borders of ponds and streams in Europe, Asia, and North
America from Nova Scotia to Minnesota, southward to Florida and Texas.
Usage: Roots are collected in late autumn or spring, washed,
voided of root fibres and dried with moderate heat. Root may be
chewed or broken up and boiled as a tea. Doses range from 2 to 10
inches of root. Root deteriorates with age. Usually inactive after 1
year. Store closed in cool dry place.
Active Constituents: Asarone and beta-asarone.
Effects: A piece of dried root the thickness of a pencil and
about 2 inches long provides stimulating and buoyant feelings. A
piece 10 inches long acts as a mind alterant and hallucinogen. (See
Contraindications: The FDA frowns upon the sale and use of
calamus and has issued directives to certain herb dealers not to sell
it to the public. An FDA directive is simply a polite word for a
threat of hassling without a law to back it. At present there are no
laws against calamus. Some experiments have indicated that excessive
amounts of calamus oil can increase the tumor rate in rats. Many of
the Cree Indians of Northern Alberta chew calamus root for oral
hygiene and as a stimulating tonic. They apparently suffer no
unpleasant side effects. In fact, those who use it seem to be in
better general health than those who do not.
Supplier: Dried root, MGH; viable root, RCS, GBR.
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