Products derived from Acorus calamus were banned in 1968 as food additives by the United States Food and Drug Administration. The questionable chemical derived from the plant was β-asarone. Confusion exists whether all strains of Acorus Calamus contain this substance.
Four varieties of Acorus calamus strains exist in nature; diploid, triploid, tetraploid and hexaploid. Diploids do not produce the carcinogenic β-asarone. Diploids are known to grow naturally in Eastern Asia (Mongolia and C Siberia) and North America. The triploid cytotype probably originated in the Himalayan region, as a hybrid between the diploid and tetraploid cytotypes. The North American Calamus is known as Acorus Calamus var. Americanus or more recently as simply Acorus Americanus. Like the diploid strains of calamus in parts of the Himalayas, Mongolia, and C Siberia, the North American diploid strain does not contain the carcinogenic β-asarone. Research has consistently demonstrated that “β-asarone was not detectable in the North American spontaneous diploid Acorus ”.
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