The sweet flag plant is native to Asia and was brought to Europe in the 13th century by the Tartars. It has a pleasant smell, which resembles mandarin oranges; however, it has a sour taste. In Arabic countries, its essence is used as an aphrodisiac.
Sweet Flag Scientific Facts
- Other names: Calamus, grass myrtle, myrtle flag, sweet grass, sweet myrtle, sweet rush.
- French: Acore.
- Spanish: Calamo aromatico.
- Environment: It grows along the borders of marshes and river banks in Europe, North America, and Argentina. Widespread, but not very common.
- Description: Water plant of the Araceae family, which grows from 60 to 150 cm high, with lanceolate, narrow leaves, and flowers growing in cylindrical spikes.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The rhizome (underground stem).
Healing Properties and Warning
Sweet flag rhizome contains an essential oil, Oleum calami, to which the plant owes its medicinal properties. These are as follows:
- Appetizer: It increases appetite.
- Eupeptic: (Promotes digestion). It is helpful for a bloated stomach, lack of gastric juice (hypochloridria), and chronic gastritis.
- Carminative: Sweet flag eliminates gas in the digestive tract.
- Muscular relaxing and mildly sedative in the nervous system, when externally applied, adding its decoction to hot bathwater. It alleviates rheumatic pain and aids sleeping.
- Eases skin itching for rashes and nettle rash. A bath with a decoction of sweet flag root relieves itching and soothes the skin.
WARNING! The continuous administration of cis-isoasarone (one of the components of the essential oil of the sweet flag) to experimental animals, can produce toxic effects of a mutagenic type. As a precautionary measure, the prolonged internal use of sweet flag (for more than one month) should be avoided, or better still, pharmacological preparations of sweet flag oil, which have the cis-isoasarone removed, should be used.
How to use Sweet Flag
- Decoction or infusion with a tablespoonful of ground rhizome (some 15g) per cup of water. Drink two or three daily cups. Do not sweeten.
- Baths: Add to the bathwater a decoction prepared with 500g pf ground rhizome per liter of water.
REFERENCES George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 424. Print.