Home / Chinese Herb / ACORUS [石菖蒲, SHI CHANG PU]


Name : AcorusAcorusCalamus20_opt

Chinese Name : 石菖蒲

Latin Name : Rhizome Acori Graminei


This herb is the dried rhizome of Acorus tatarinowii Schott, of the family Araceae. It is mainly grown in the Jiangsu, Sichuan, and Zhejiang provinces of China, collected in the early spring, washed after the removal of the hairy rootlets, and dried in the sun before use. If the fresh herb is required, it is harvested in late summer.

Acorus, which has a pleasant odor, is white and has a starchy internal texture. Traditionally, it was used as stimulant, stomachic, tonic, carminative, antispasmodic, sedative, antiperiodic, and diaphoretic agent. Its powder, juice, and tincture are favored with the Chinese, who use the herb for hemoptysis, colic, menorrhagia, and other fluxes, and apply the juice or coarse powder to carbuncles, buboes, deaf ear, and sore eyes. Today, the herb is used to treat loss of consciousness and confusion of the mind, forgetfulness, anorexia,  a stuffed sensation in the epigastrium, and epilepsy.

Use of Acorus in TCM

Pungent in taste and warm, it acts on the heart and stomach meridians.

Effects, Medicinal Uses, and Combinations

  1. Tranquilizes the mind: for palpitations, insomnia, amnesia, and tinnitus due to insufficiency of the Heart-Qi , acorus is prescribed with polygala root (yuan zhi), hoelen (fu ling), ginseng, and dragon’s tooth, as in An Shen Ding Zhi Wan. Acorus is combined with polygala root to help maintain mental and intellectual health of the elderly.
  2. Relieves Dampness and regulates the functions of the stomach: to treat oppressive sensations in the chest, abdominal distention, anorexia, poor appetite, and chronic gastritis, it is mixed with tangerine peel, magnolia bark (hou po), and pinellia tuber (ban xia) as a stomachic and carminative agent.
  3. Induces resuscitation: for loss of consciousness and confusion due to mental disturbance, acorus is used alone as a powder or with curcuma root (yu jin) and pinellia tuber (ban xia). The powder of acorus can also be used for depressed psychosis and dementia.


In a decoction of 3 to 10 g, or 10 to 15 g if fresh acorus is used


People with yin deficiency, yang excess, or  excessive perspiration should avoid or use the herb with care.

Side Effects and Toxicity

The herb was recorded as nontoxic in classical Chinese materia medica. Oral administration of a 10 g daily decoction for three months to three years in sixty patients produced no side effects. The volatile oil of the herb is toxic. An overdose causes CNS stimulation, convulsions, and death.

Chemical Constituents

Acorus contains 0.11 to 0.42 percent volatile oil. The main component of the oil is beta-asarone. Other components are caryophyllene, alpha-humulene, sekishone, amino acids, organic acids, and sugars.

Pharmacological Findings

  1. As a sedactive, it can increase the hypnotic effect of other sedactive herbs or hypnotic drugs.
  2. As an antypyretic, it lowers the body temperature.
  3. Increases secretion of stomach juice.
  4. Relieves spasms of the smooth muscles of the intestines.
  5. It is useful as an anticonvulsant for epilepsy caused by primary or cerebral trauma.
  6. As an antimicrobial, it inhibits the growth of aureus, Streptococci aand mycrobacteria.
  7. Antiasthmatic.
  8. Antyhypertensive and dilates blood vessels.
  9. Prevents blood-clot formation.