CALAMUS

COMMON NAMES : flag root, rat root, sweet calomel, sweet flag A favorite psychedelic of the Cree Indian tribe of northern Alberta is calamus (Acorus calamus), more commonly referred to by theunappealing name "rat root.". High enough doses can produce an experience similar to that of a light dose of LSD.

Calamus is a tall plant found in streams, marshes, and on the edges of ponds in North America, Europe, and Asia. Its fragrant, swordlike leaves have been a folk medicine staple for many years. Often used by natives in low doses as a stimulant or tonic because of its energizing properties, calamus has also been used to treat a wide variety of ailments, including asthma, :bronchitis, diarrhea, fevers, toothache, headache, and hangover.   '

The main active ingredient in calamus is a substance called . cone, chemically related to mescaline and amphetamines but with significant differences. The drug provides users with an "up" feeling, but, unlike the tense up of amphetamines, the Caamus trip produces a feeling of relaxation:

Calamus is unique in that it can simultaneously act as a sedative, stimulant, and hallucinogen. The experience that dominates largely depends on dosage and individual tolerance.

The plant is harvested in the late spring or fall. The calamus root, containing the psychedelic ingredient, is thoroughly washed to eliminate bitter fibers and dried with moderate heat.

With its similar appearance, blue flag can easily be mistaken for Caamus. Blue flag is a highly poisonous plant, so the mistake could be deadly. Calamus leaves have a sweet smell when scratched; blue flag leaves do not. Calamus roots, is addition, have a pleasant aroma and a sharp taste, while roots from blue' flag have no smell and a nauseating, bitter flavor. Pickers uncertain as to which is which should skip the whole idea. Better to miss out on a plant high than to end up as plant fertilizer.

Calamus root will deteriorate and lose potency if kept more than a few months. Chewed, or brewed into a tea, the fresh root is consumed on an empty stomach, since high doses may cause vomiting.

Because people have varying levels of tolerance, only about a 2-Inch length of pencil-thin root should be used for starters. The effect at that dosage level is one of energetic, stimulation and euphoria. A t0-inch length of root will produce light LSD-like sensations.

Sale of calamus is presently legal in the United States, although the Food and Drug Administration has requested herb marketers not to sell it to the general public.

While there are no-known negative side effects related to Caamus use, it should not be taken with MAO inhibitors, ineluding hydrazines such as Iproniazid, Marplan Catran, Parnate, Eutonyl, Eutron, Nardil, Niamid, and Marsilid. Avoid yohimbine, harmala alkaloids, tryptamines, ' nonhydrazines such as cyclopropylamines, aminopyrazine derivatives, propargylamines, carbolines, and indolealkylamines. MAO inhibitors, in general, should not be used at least a week before and after taking calamus.