Shichangpu (Acorus gramineus)

The Acorus plant family represents the source of one of the world’s most widely used medicinals. In Egypt, the Chester Beatty Papyrus VI mentioned Acorus as an ingredient for a digestive plaster around 1,300 BC. In ancient Europe, Acorus was a symbol of love, lust and affection. The calamus variety, often referred to as Sweet Flag, was added to absinthe and digestive bitters, used in the perfume industry and as a flavoring for pipe tobacco. In Ayurvedic medicine, Acorus calamus is called Vacha, and revered for its ability to transmute Kundalini energy, rejuvenate the brain and stimulate self-expression. In Sanskrit, the term Vacha literally means “speaking,” mirroring a quality that is also expressed in the herb’s Chinese name: the ancient word chang in Shichangpu originally signifies “splendid expression.” In North America, moreover, Dakota warriors used to apply the root paste to their faces in order to calm the senses and conquer fear when facing an enemy.