Acorus calamus or sweet flag is common throughout India. It is widely cultivated and is a source of income for farmers of the swamp, marshy regions. Vacha is also seen on the edges of the lakes, tanks, streams and rivers. It is said that Egyptians used this plant for making perfumes in the 13th century.
History says that for the North Americans this was a very important root. One story goes that a sickness was plaguing the people. A spirit came to a man in a dream, telling him that about the sweet flag root and where to find it. The man awoke, found the root, and made a medicine which cured the people. In North American homes, pieces of the dried root were strung together and hung up for preservation. Steaming it throughout the home was thought to “kill” sickness. While they were travelling, a piece of root was kept and chewed to ward off illness. (source:wikipedia)
Hindi Name-Bach, Ghorbach, Safed bach
English Name- Sweet flag, Calamus, Myrtle grass
Kannada Name – Baje
Telugu Name- Vasa
Tamil Name- Vasambu, Pullai-valathi
Malayalam Name- Bavambu
Arabic name – Vaj, Vash, Oudul Vaj
Gujarati name – Gandhilovaj, Godavaj
Kashmiri name – Vachi, Vaigandar
Persian -Agar, Agarturki, Vasa
Urdu -Bach, Vaj
Nepali Name – Bojho
Unani – Vaj turki, Bacch
Uses of vacha in various illnesses
1. In abdominal diseases and intestinal worms:
In case of abdominal colic powder of vacha is mixed with a pinch of hing and rock salt and given in a glass of warm water. This mixture is known to relieve bloating and pain. In children, a paste of vacha and hing, rocksalt and hared cures intestinal worms. It also causes proper elimination of urine and stools in children.
2.To improve intelligence and memory:
The most exotic formulation for children , the swarnaprasha contains vacha because of its properties to improve intellect and memory. Acharya Charaka who was a renowned physician with great knowledge of herbs stated that vacha increases the intelligence (medhadharanashakti). In children, the powder of vacha, brahmi (Baccopa monneiri ) and Shankhapushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis) and is triturated in the juice of brahmi and given.
3. For delayed speech and stammering :
The paste of vacha is mixed with a drop of honey and is applied on the tongue of the child in case of speech delay or stammering. This mixture also improves the clarity of voice.
4. Vacha bracelets for children:
For Children below 1 year of age, small pieces of vacha can be tied as a bracelet on their wrist. This provides an anti microbial action and also serves the purpose of a teething bracelet. When the child bites on the sweet flag, it prevents babies from getting abdominal pain and worms.
How to make a vacha teething bracelet?
- choose a big piece of sweet flag and soak it in water overnight.
- Cut it into small round pieces and insert it into a thread.
- Dry the bracelet and tie it on the baby’s wrist.
5. In cold and cough:
In cases of cold and cough, the powder of vacha, long pepper and black pepper can be mixed together with honey and can be licked by children. This causes expectoration of the phlegm.
6. In epilepsy:
If a child is suffering form epilepsy, sweet flag has to be boiled with milk added with honey and given regularly.An international Journal of research in Ayurveda published a study on anticonvulsant activity of sweet flag which showed the samples shortened other phases of MES-induced seizures, such as flexion, convulsion, and stupor, however, the observed decrease of clonus and stupor in treated group was found to be statistically significant.
Old ghee (purana ghrita) boiled with sweet flag is the best in treating convulsions, memory issues, and developmental delays in children.
7. Vacha oil for hair lice:
Small cut pieces of Sweet flag can be boiled with Coconut oil or sesame oil and this home made hair oil helps in getting rid of hair lice and its regular use also prevents from getting it on the scalp.
8. As an insecticide:
- Sticks of sweet flag can be put into the wardrobes to prevent growth of fungus and molds on the clothes. It is a harmless insecticide that keeps off cockroaches, ants and termites.
- Sticks of sweet flag can be burnt in the house as a fumigation along with dhoop/ insence. The fumes emitted are anti microbial in nature and also keeps mosquitoes off from home.
9. For making bindhi for children.
The sticks of sweet flag is dipped in sesame oil for 4-6 hours and then it is burnt on a flame. the resultant black powder after burning is used as a bindhi in children.
10. For nasal congestion:
The sticks of sweet flag are burnt and the fumes are to be inhaled that clears off mucus and nasal congestion. It clears the airways and facilitates easy breathing. This procedure also removes the heaviness of the head.
11. As a bath powder:
In children, Instead of using chemicals like soap and body wash, one can use the powder of turmeric, sweet flag and green mung bean powder. This is a good exfoliator, does not removes the oilyness from the baby’s skin completely, maintains the skin tone and pH of the skin and helps in growth of healthy tissues. It prevents dryness of the skin and can be used for adults also.
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