Calamus: Herb of the Week

Calamus (Acorus calamus) is this week’s herb of the week! There is so much amazing about calamus, but the reason I picked it for this week is that we’re kicking off a Whole30, and calamus is a big help when you’re kicking the sugar habit. So here we go, calamus: let’s get through this week together!

A Warming Bitter

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We both love calamus and work with it every day, though in different ways: I blend it into my uncoffee each morning for a bit of extra liver stimulation and a grounding influence. I don’t use too much, just enough to get the warming pungency and a hint of its distinctive bitter taste.

Calamus is close to angelica in flavor, and a little bit like elecampane too, though they are each distinct in action. Those warming bitters are very important!

While you can get your calamus in tea or tincture, Ryn’s preferred mode of enjoyment is to simply chew on some small root pieces.

Rest And Digest

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This is the little jar of calamus root-bits that Ryn carries around everywhere. It’s fantastic when you’ve got that I’ve-been-teaching-for-hours sore throat – a real gift to singers, teachers, and others who speak a lot – but he also just likes to chew on some while he’s walking around town.

Calamus has a lovely ability to help you shift more easily into the parasympathetic nervous system state, leaving the tension of fight-or-flight behind. It brings you into a state of wide-angle perception, just the opposite of the tunnel vision that comes with a stress response. It’s perfect for meditation, which is often where Ryn’s head is when he’s walking to or from work.

This is one of the reasons we love calamus as a digestive bitter, too: that rest-and-digest state is exactly what you’re trying to settle into before you tuck in to dinner!

Is That A Spadix In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

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Calamus is grasslike, but it does indeed have flowers! This is called its spadix, a fleshy-stemmed spike of tiny flowers. Peace lily, calla lily, and jack-in-the-pulpit also have flower spadices.


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