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Vacha: Uses, Benefits and Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more


In the Ayurvedic medicine system, Vacha may be considered a well-known medicinal herb used for over 100 years. Vacha, scientifically known as the Acorus calamus, belongs to the family Acoraceae. The Vacha plant is a grass-like semi-aquatic herb that grows in moist, marshy lands like ponds, rivers and swamps. Vacha plant is an aromatic herb with creeping rhizomes which has a pleasant and sweet odour due to its essential oils. According to the Red Data Book, the Vacha plant has been considered one of the threatened species. It is native to India and grows in the marshy lands of Kashmir, Manipur and Nagaland. However, it is also found in other countries such as Europe, Russia, Asia, China, Sri Lanka, Japan, Burma, Indonesia, the USA and Canada. Other names of the Vacha plant are calamus, sweet calomel, sweet flag, sweet sedge, myrtle flag, Haimavati, Sadgrantha, Bach, Vekhand, etc.​1–3​ Let us read more about the Vacha plant benefits, nutritional facts, potential uses and more. 

Nutritional Value of Vacha: 

One hundred grams of Vacha may have 121.65 Kcal of energy.​4​ The nutritional value of the Vacha plant is as under: 

Nutrients Value 
Carbohydrate 37.26% 
Protein 15.62% 
Fibre 6.5% 
Lipid (Fat) 0.00057% 
Amino acids 25.71 µg 
Sodium  1823 mg 
Copper 11.59 mg 
Magnesium 622 mg 
Phosphorus  0.91 mg 
Calcium 1585.66 mg 
Zinc 18.03 mg 
Potassium 15078 mg 
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 3.93 mg 
Vitamin E (tocopherol) 0.32 µg 

Table 1: Nutritional value of Vacha.4 

β-asarone is the major phytochemical constituent present in Vacha. Furthermore, other phytonutrients like tannins, β carotene, phytic acids, choline, flavones, ethanol methanol, camphor, eugenol and phenols may also be present in Vacha.1,2,4​ 

Properties of Vacha: 

Vacha medicinal plant may include the following properties:1-5 

  • It may act as a rejuvenator (enhance memory) 
  • It may act as an antifungal agent 
  • It may act as an expectorant (remove cough)  
  • It may act as an antioxidant 
  • It may have antibacterial activity 
  • It may have anti-ulcer activity 
  • It may have antispasmodic activity (relieve stomach spasms) 
  • It may have analgesic activity (pain-killer)  
  • It may have anti-inflammatory effects 
  • It may have anticonvulsant activity (reduce seizures) 
  • It may have blood sugar-lowering activity 
  • It may have the property to improve the lipid profile  
  • It may stop cancer cell growth 
  • It may relieve flatulence 

Potential Uses of Vacha: 

The following may be the potential uses of Vacha: 

Potential uses of Vacha for Diarrhoea 

Vacha may have anti-diarrhoeal activity. An animal study by Kapadia et. al in 2012 reported that Vacha plant extract might contain phytochemicals like glycosides and saponins. These phytochemicals in the extract may help relieve symptoms of diarrhoea and dysentery. The experimental analysis showed that a single dose of Vacha extract significantly decreased the severity of diarrhoea and reduced the rate of excretion in animal models.1,2 However, this information is insufficient as this study is conducted on animals. More human research is needed to suggest the uses of the Vacha plant for diarrhoea. If you have diarrhoea, consult with doctors and do not self-medicate. 

Potential uses of Vacha for Constipation 

A diet low in fibre might cause complications like constipation. A study by Oyenuga and Fetuga in 1975 suggests that the crude fibre content of the Vacha plant rhizome is as high as about 6.5%. Adding fibre to a diet might help absorb essential minerals in the stomach, increase the digestion process and decrease cholesterol absorption. However, excess consumption should be avoided. Hence Vacha may possess beneficial effects on constipation.4 Furthermore, clinical studies are needed to continue using Vacha for constipation. To solve your constipation problems, consult a specialist. Avoid self-medication. 

Potential uses of Vacha for Ulcers 

The Vacha rhizome extract may have anti-ulcer activity. An animal testing experiment by Rafatullah et al. 1994 suggests that it may contain certain compounds that might stop the stomach’s acidic secretion and help defend the mucosal lining from ulcer-causing agents.2 However, further research in humans is needed to use the Vacha plant for managing ulcers. If you have ulcers, kindly consult a qualified doctor and get proper treatment. 

Potential uses of Vacha for Mental disorders  

The Vacha plant in Ayurveda may have been listed as a traditional plant used as a brainpower-enhancing agent that can act against mental disorders including depression. A study by Manikandan et al., 2005 suggested that Vacha extract may decrease the brain lipid peroxide (free radicles damage the brain cells). This might have a beneficial effect on memory disorder and learning performance. When combined with Polygala root, Vacha might help maintain the mental well-being and intellectual power of the elderly. It may also help with memory loss, confusion, consciousness loss and forgetfulness. Vacha plant may act as a rejuvenator, enhancing brain functions and building memory power.1,2 More human research is required to study the true scope of Vacha on mental health. Consult a qualified doctor for any mental health difficulties. 

Other Potential Uses of Vacha:1 

  • Vacha powder may be mixed with ghee and eaten as an Ayurvedic preparation to enhance speech development. 
  • Vacha plant extract and its essential oils may have analgesic properties. It might provide a sedative (soothing) action on the body that might result in lowering blood pressure and inducing calmness and sleep.  
  • When combined with ginger, the essential oil from Vacha rhizomes may help relieve stomach flatulence. 
  • An animal study by Prisilla et al., 2012 reported the Vacha extract might have blood sugar-lowering (anti-hyperglycaemic) activity. 
  • There are many more uses of the Vacha plant as indicated by the list of its properties. However, for the sake of this blog, we have limited ourselves to the most researched and well-known ones.  

Though studies show the potential uses of Vacha in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a necessity for further studies to develop the scope of the benefits of Vacha on human health.  

Based on what I have noticed, Vacha has been proven beneficial for various conditions in traditional medicine. It is known to possibly help reduce swelling and address skin conditions effectively.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

How to Use Vacha?  

You may use the Vacha plant as follows: 

  • Vacha rhizome may be mixed with ginger. 
  • Vacha powder may be taken with warm water. 
  • Vacha powder may be taken with ghee. 
  • Dried roots of Vacha may be used as a flavouring agent in bitter liqueurs and appetizers. 1,2 

You should consult a qualified doctor before having Vacha in large quantities. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing modern medical treatment with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation of Vacha without consulting an ayurvedic physician. They will guide you with its form and dosage per your health condition. 

Judging from what I have seen, Vacha has a unique ability to control elevated body temperature caused by Glycopyrrolate (a medication). This might be helpful for patients who already have high body temperature, as it promotes sweating and helps regulate body heat.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Side Effects of Vacha: 

Safety analyses of Vacha on animals have shown that Vacha extract may have toxic effects. Below may be some Vacha plant side effects: 

  • Vacha essential oil may induce tumours due to one of its components called β-asarone. 1 
  • Stomach irritation 
  • Disturbed digestion  
  • Persistent constipation  
  • Gastroenteritis 
  • Diarrhoea  
  • Passage of blood into the faeces.2,4  

If you experience such side effects, immediately consult a doctor and get the proper treatment.  

Based on my experience, I can say that Vacha works wonders when it comes to easing uncomfortable cold in children. It’s like a wonder medicine for cough and sore throat! By simply sucking on a small piece of Vacha, children with difficult cold and cough might find relief from these uncomfortable conditions.

Dr. Smita barode, B.A.M.S, M.S.

Precautions to Take with Vacha: 

Having Vacha in small quantities might be safe. However, eating in more significant amounts may be harmful. Therefore, precautions are necessary:  

  • Vacha plants may be high in fibre. Its excess consumption should be avoided as it may cause intestinal irritation because of excess loss of nutrients.4 
  • Avoid having Vacha plant preparations if you take anti-depression medications; they might cause herb-drug interactions.3 
  • Do not have the Vacha plant if you have digestion-related problems or it may cause serious issues like constipation, diarrhoea and blood in the stool.2 
  • No report suggests the safe use of the Vacha plant in pregnant and lactating women. Therefore, it is essential to consult a doctor before having it. 
  • Take precautions while giving it to small children and the elderly or better consult doctors and have it if recommended. 

Interactions with Other Drugs:  

Vacha plants may interfere with certain drugs/medicines, leading to herb-drug interaction. 

  • Vacha is not recommended to be taken with anti-depressants (MAO-inhibitors) drugs. 
  • Studies by Taylor et al., 1967 and Goggelmann et al., 1983 suggest that Vacha extract may contain β-asarone, which may be toxic and carcinogenic in animal studies. However, its effect on humans is yet to be evaluated.3 

Therefore, you should avoid having Vacha preparations with any medicine and if any complications arise, take doctor’s consultations.  

Frequently Asked Questions: 

What are the side effects/safety issues of the Vacha plant?

The Vacha plant side effects may include stomach irritation, disturbed digestion, persistent constipation, gastroenteritis, diarrhoea and passage of blood into the faeces.2,4 If you experience such side effects after having Vacha preparations, immediately consult a doctor and get appropriate medication.  

What are the other names of Vacha?

Vacha plant in Hindi is called Bach; in English is called Calamus, Sweet Calomel, Sweet Flag, Sweet Sedge, Myrtle Flag; in Marathi is called Vekhand and in Sanskrit is called Haimavati and Sadgrantha.​1–3​ 

What are the properties of the Vacha plant? 

Vacha plant may have activities such as antifungal, antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-ulcer antispasmodic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, blood sugar-lowering and lipid-lowering properties. It may also act as a rejuvenator, expectorant, calming and sleep-inducing agent. It may help relieve flatulence and help stop the abnormal growth of cancer cells.​1–5​ 

Is the Vacha plant carcinogenic? 

Animal studies by Taylor et al., 1967 and Goggelmann et al., 1983 suggest that Vacha plant may contain a photochemical called β-asarone, which might be carcinogenic. It might have the potential to cause tumours in animals.3 However, more information is needed to suggest the carcinogenic effects of Vacha on humans. Therefore, before having it consult a doctor and do not self-medicate. 

Does the Vacha plant interact with other drugs?

 Vacha plant extract may interact with particular anti-depressant medicines (MAO inhibitors).3 Therefore, you should avoid having Vacha extract and anti-depressant drugs simultaneously to avoid herb-drug interaction. 


  1. ​​KUMAR A. Medicinal Properties of Acorus calamus. J of Drug Deli and Therapy. 2013;3(3):143–4. Available from: http://jddtonline.info/index.php/jddt/article/view/528 


  1. ​Sharma V, Singh I, Chaudhary P. Acorus calamus (The Healing Plant): a review on its medicinal potential, micropropagation and conservation. Natu Prod Res. 2014;28(18):1454–66. Available from:- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24824923/ 


​3. Yende S, Tuse T, Yende S, Harle U, Rajgure D, Tuse T, et al. Pharmacological profile of Acorus calamus: An Overview. Phcog Rev. 2008;2(4):22–6. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Subhash-Yende/publication/207178406_Pharmacological_profile_of_Acorus_calamus_An_Overview’/links/568ba66a08ae1975839f89dd/Pharmacological-profile-of-Acorus-calamus-An-Overview.pdf 


​4. Chandran P, Nair A. Nutritional and Anti Nutritional Status of Acorus calamus L. Rhizome. Annals Food Sci and Techno. 2014;15(1):51–9. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265599969_Nutritional_and_Anti_Nutritional_Status_of_Acorus_calamus_L_Rhizome/link/5794195e08aec89db7993698/download 


​5. Balakumbahan R, Rajamani K, Kumanan K. Acorus calamus: An overview. J of Med Plants Res. 2010;4(25):2740–5. Available from: https://academicjournals.org/article/article1380712717_Balakumbahan%20et%20al.pdf 

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