Other Names: Calamus, sweet sedge, rat root, sweet myrtle, beewort, bachh (Hindu), Racha (Vedic), Shihch'ang pu (Chinese)
Habitat: Europe, Asia, China, North America from Nova Scotia to minnesota; southward to Florida & Texas.
Properties: The effects of Calamus, produced from the root, are as a stimulent when a dried root of about 2 inches length and the thickness of a pencil; a hallucinogen when 10+ inches of self same root are eaten. It is legal in the US and can be bought in dried form in many parts of the country. It has an additional medicinal value, according to the Cree Indians, to relieve constipation, in the smaller dosage.
The root can be chewed and eaten raw, and has a taste of a bitter ginger root. Eaten this way it numbs the tongue for 4-10 minutes. Although possible this takes developing a taste for it. A tonic or tea can also be made, far more useful if all you can find is the ground root, 1 ounce per 1 pint of the boiling water, preferably mixed with a few pleasant tasting herbs like spearmint or peppermint and served with honey (NO MILK PRODUCTS - IT WILL CAUSE IRRITATION, POSSIBLE VOMITING IF SUCH IS DONE). Preferably take it on an empty stomach. In this form it does not act as a hallucinogen but does have its other effects. Calamus can also be added to a meade recipe, but will give it a slightly bitter aftertaste no matter what other herbs you add to the brew.
Copyright 1996, 1998 by Lori Herron and Alternative Nature