July 13, 2024

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The Essential Oil of Calamus – A Much Maligned Biblical Oil

2 min read

Calamus (Acorus calamus) is mentioned three times in the Bible Exodus 30:23, Ezekiel 27:19 and


“Your channel is an orchard of pomegranates with all choicest fruits, henna with nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all chief spices-a garden fountain, a well of living water, and flowing streams from Lebanon.” Song of Solomon 4:13-15.

Calamus was also referred to as “aromatic cane” in the NRSV. It was one of the four oils in the “holy” blend given to Moses to be used to anoint the people, the altar, the vessels and the tabernacle. There is some doubt whether the botanical plant we call calamus today is actually the same plant available to Moses. It is a reed plant that grows in marshy areas. From that description, Moses might have had access to this oil.

The ancient world used calamus as a holy anointing oil and in perfumes and incense. The healing properties are mainly due to the aromatic oil contained primarily in the root. It was esteemed as an aromatic stimulant and tonic for fever, nervous complaints, vertigo, headaches, dysentery, etc.

Today calamus is considered an antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and it soothes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. It is helpful for asthmatic bronchitis, kidney congestion after alcohol intoxication, cystitis, gout and low blood pressure. Calamus is still current in the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. It is considered spiritually uplifting as part of a holy anointing oil.

This oil can be used topically over the abdomen for its soothing affect on the GI tract. It can be applied to the temples, brow and throat for spiritual connection and clarity of thought. Calamus can also be used as in incense. This oil is rare and hard to find and generally not used except in blends.

As for safety, there are much better oils than calamus and therefore this oil is not recommended for general use. You will find it on most British lists of oils never to be used and yet there is insufficient rationale for this oil to be so listed. It is a difficult oil to obtain and one must be careful that the oil you have is really calamus and is truly the same as the ancient oil named in the Bible.

To learn more about calamus and other Biblical essential oils you might want to consider becoming a certified aromatherapist. Educational courses in healing energy and aromatherapy can help you understand how essential oils heal the body/mind/spirit.

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