In the Ayurvedic medicine system, Vacha may be considered a well-known medicinal herb used for over 100 years. Vacha, scientifically known as the Acorus calamus, belongs to the family Acoraceae. The Vacha plant is a grass-like semi-aquatic herb that grows in moist, marshy lands like ponds, rivers and swamps. Vacha plant is an aromatic herb with creeping rhizomes which has a pleasant and sweet odour due to its essential oils. According to the Red Data Book, the Vacha plant has been considered one of the threatened species. It is native to India and grows in the marshy lands of Kashmir, Manipur and Nagaland. However, it is also found in other countries such as Europe, Russia, Asia, China, Sri Lanka, Japan, Burma, Indonesia, the USA and Canada. Other names of the Vacha plant are calamus, sweet calomel, sweet flag, sweet sedge, myrtle flag, Haimavati, Sadgrantha, Bach, Vekhand, etc.1–3 Let us read more about the Vacha plant benefits, nutritional facts, potential uses and more.
One hundred grams of Vacha may have 121.65 Kcal of energy.4 The nutritional value of the Vacha plant is as under:
|Amino acids||25.71 µg|
|Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)||3.93 mg|
|Vitamin E (tocopherol)||0.32 µg|
Table 1: Nutritional value of Vacha.4
β-asarone is the major phytochemical constituent present in Vacha. Furthermore, other phytonutrients like tannins, β carotene, phytic acids, choline, flavones, ethanol methanol, camphor, eugenol and phenols may also be present in Vacha.1,2,4
Vacha medicinal plant may include the following properties:1-5
The following may be the potential uses of Vacha:
Vacha may have anti-diarrhoeal activity. An animal study by Kapadia et. al in 2012 reported that Vacha plant extract might contain phytochemicals like glycosides and saponins. These phytochemicals in the extract may help relieve symptoms of diarrhoea and dysentery. The experimental analysis showed that a single dose of Vacha extract significantly decreased the severity of diarrhoea and reduced the rate of excretion in animal models.1,2 However, this information is insufficient as this study is conducted on animals. More human research is needed to suggest the uses of the Vacha plant for diarrhoea. If you have diarrhoea, consult with doctors and do not self-medicate.
A diet low in fibre might cause complications like constipation. A study by Oyenuga and Fetuga in 1975 suggests that the crude fibre content of the Vacha plant rhizome is as high as about 6.5%. Adding fibre to a diet might help absorb essential minerals in the stomach, increase the digestion process and decrease cholesterol absorption. However, excess consumption should be avoided. Hence Vacha may possess beneficial effects on constipation.4 Furthermore, clinical studies are needed to continue using Vacha for constipation. To solve your constipation problems, consult a specialist. Avoid self-medication.
The Vacha rhizome extract may have anti-ulcer activity. An animal testing experiment by Rafatullah et al. 1994 suggests that it may contain certain compounds that might stop the stomach’s acidic secretion and help defend the mucosal lining from ulcer-causing agents.2 However, further research in humans is needed to use the Vacha plant for managing ulcers. If you have ulcers, kindly consult a qualified doctor and get proper treatment.
The Vacha plant in Ayurveda may have been listed as a traditional plant used as a brainpower-enhancing agent that can act against mental disorders including depression. A study by Manikandan et al., 2005 suggested that Vacha extract may decrease the brain lipid peroxide (free radicles damage the brain cells). This might have a beneficial effect on memory disorder and learning performance. When combined with Polygala root, Vacha might help maintain the mental well-being and intellectual power of the elderly. It may also help with memory loss, confusion, consciousness loss and forgetfulness. Vacha plant may act as a rejuvenator, enhancing brain functions and building memory power.1,2 More human research is required to study the true scope of Vacha on mental health. Consult a qualified doctor for any mental health difficulties.
Though studies show the potential uses of Vacha in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a necessity for further studies to develop the scope of the benefits of Vacha on human health.
You may use the Vacha plant as follows:
You should consult a qualified doctor before having Vacha in large quantities. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing modern medical treatment with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation of Vacha without consulting an ayurvedic physician. They will guide you with its form and dosage per your health condition.
Safety analyses of Vacha on animals have shown that Vacha extract may have toxic effects. Below may be some Vacha plant side effects:
If you experience such side effects, immediately consult a doctor and get the proper treatment.
Having Vacha in small quantities might be safe. However, eating in more significant amounts may be harmful. Therefore, precautions are necessary:
Interactions with Other Drugs:
Vacha plants may interfere with certain drugs/medicines, leading to herb-drug interaction.
Therefore, you should avoid having Vacha preparations with any medicine and if any complications arise, take doctor’s consultations.
The Vacha plant side effects may include stomach irritation, disturbed digestion, persistent constipation, gastroenteritis, diarrhoea and passage of blood into the faeces.2,4 If you experience such side effects after having Vacha preparations, immediately consult a doctor and get appropriate medication.
Vacha plant in Hindi is called Bach; in English is called Calamus, Sweet Calomel, Sweet Flag, Sweet Sedge, Myrtle Flag; in Marathi is called Vekhand and in Sanskrit is called Haimavati and Sadgrantha.1–3
Vacha plant may have activities such as antifungal, antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-ulcer antispasmodic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, blood sugar-lowering and lipid-lowering properties. It may also act as a rejuvenator, expectorant, calming and sleep-inducing agent. It may help relieve flatulence and help stop the abnormal growth of cancer cells.1–5
Animal studies by Taylor et al., 1967 and Goggelmann et al., 1983 suggest that Vacha plant may contain a photochemical called β-asarone, which might be carcinogenic. It might have the potential to cause tumours in animals.3 However, more information is needed to suggest the carcinogenic effects of Vacha on humans. Therefore, before having it consult a doctor and do not self-medicate.
Vacha plant extract may interact with particular anti-depressant medicines (MAO inhibitors).3 Therefore, you should avoid having Vacha extract and anti-depressant drugs simultaneously to avoid herb-drug interaction.
3. Yende S, Tuse T, Yende S, Harle U, Rajgure D, Tuse T, et al. Pharmacological profile of Acorus calamus: An Overview. Phcog Rev. 2008;2(4):22–6. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Subhash-Yende/publication/207178406_Pharmacological_profile_of_Acorus_calamus_An_Overview’/links/568ba66a08ae1975839f89dd/Pharmacological-profile-of-Acorus-calamus-An-Overview.pdf
4. Chandran P, Nair A. Nutritional and Anti Nutritional Status of Acorus calamus L. Rhizome. Annals Food Sci and Techno. 2014;15(1):51–9. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265599969_Nutritional_and_Anti_Nutritional_Status_of_Acorus_calamus_L_Rhizome/link/5794195e08aec89db7993698/download
5. Balakumbahan R, Rajamani K, Kumanan K. Acorus calamus: An overview. J of Med Plants Res. 2010;4(25):2740–5. Available from: https://academicjournals.org/article/article1380712717_Balakumbahan%20et%20al.pdf