Harmal: Wikis


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Harmal (Peganum harmala) flower
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Nitrariaceae
Genus: Peganum
Species: P. harmala
Binomial name
Peganum harmala
Harmal seed capsules
Peganum harmala seeds

Harmal (Peganum harmala) is a plant of the family Nitrariaceae, native from the eastern Mediterranean region east to India. Its trade name, "Syrian Rue," refers to its resemblance to plants of the rue (Ruta, Rutaceae) family.

It is a perennial plant which can grow to about 0.8 m tall,[2] but normally it is about 0.3 m tall.[3] The roots of the plant can reach a depth of up to 6.1 m, if the soil it is growing in is very dry.[3] It blossoms between June and August in the Northern Hemisphere.[4] The flowers are white and are about 2.5–3.8 cm in diameter.[4] The round seed capsules measure about 1–1.5 cm in diameter,[5] have three chambers and carry more than 50 seeds.[4]

Peganum harmala was first planted in the United States in 1928 in the state of New Mexico by a farmer wanting to manufacture the dye "Turkish Red" from its seeds.[3] Since then it has spread invasively to Arizona, California, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Washington.[6] "Because it is so drought tolerant, African rue can displace the native saltbushes and grasses growing in the salt-desert shrub lands of the Western U.S."[3]

Common names:[7]

  • African rue
  • Esphand
  • Harmal peganum
  • Harmal shrub
  • Harmel
  • Isband
  • Ozallaik
  • Peganum
  • Steppenraute
  • Syrian rue
  • Yüzerlik, üzerlik (Turkish)
  • Üzərlik


Traditional uses

Peganum harmala seeds heated over a gas flame as incense
Syrian Rue

In Turkey Peganum harmala is called yüzerlik or üzerlik. Dried capsules from this plant are strung and hung in homes or vehicles to protect against "the evil eye."

Peganum harmala fruit

In Iran, Iraq, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of Turkey, dried capsules (known in Persian as اسپند espænd or اسفنددانه esfænd-dāneh) mixed with other ingredients are placed onto red hot charcoal,[8] where they explode with little popping noises, releasing a fragrant smoke that is wafted around the head of those afflicted by or exposed to the gaze of strangers. As this is done, an ancient prayer is recited. This prayer is said by Muslims as well as by Zoroastrians. This Persian practice dates to pre-Islamic, Zoroastrian times. In Iran, this ritual is sometimes performed in traditional restaurants, where customers are exposed to the eyes of strangers.

Peganum harmala seeds as sold in a Middle Eastern foods grocery store

Harmal has been used as an entheogen in the Middle East, and in modern Western culture, it is often used as an analogue of Banisteriopsis caapi to create an ad hoc Ayahuasca, the South American mixture of phytoindoles including DMT with β-carbolines. However, Harmal has distinct aspects from caapi and a unique entheogenic signature. Some scholars identify Harmal with the entheogenic haoma of pre-Zoroastrian Persian religions.[9]

A red dye, "Turkey Red,"[3] from the seeds is often used in Western Asia to dye carpets.[10] It is also used to dye wool.[3] When the seeds are extracted with water, a yellow fluorescent dye is obtained.[11] If they are extracted with alcohol, a red dye is obtained.[11] The stems, roots and seeds can be used to make inks, stains and tattoos.[12]

Medicinal uses

Peganum harmala is used as an analgesic and antiinflammatory agent.[13]

In Yemen it was used to treat depression,[14] and it has been established in the laboratory that harmaline, an active ingredient in Peganum harmala, is a central nervous system stimulant and a "reversible inhibitor of MAO-A (RIMA),"[15] a category of antidepressant.

Peganum harmala

Smoke from the seeds kills algae, bacteria, intestinal parasites and molds.[10] Peganum harmala has "antibacterial activity,"[16] including antibacterial activity against drug-resistant bacteria.[17]

The "root is applied to kill lice" and when burned, the seeds kill insects.[18] It also inhibits the reproduction of the Tribolium castaneum beetle.[19]

It is also used as an anthelmintic (to expel parasitic worms).[18] Reportedly the ancient Greeks used powdered Peganum harmala seeds to get rid of tapeworms and to treat recurring fevers (possibly malaria).[20]

Peganum harmala is an abortifacient,[21] and, in large quantities, it can reduce spermatogenesis and male fertility in rats.[22]


Harmine, a compound present in Peganum harmala, fluoresces under ultraviolet light

It is fairly effective against protozoa including malaria. There is evidence that it may be effective against drug-resistant protozoa.[17] It is given in a decoction for laryngitis.[18]

One of the compounds found in Peganum harmala, vasicine (peganine) has been found to be safe and effective against Leishmania donovani, a protozoan parasite that can cause potentially "fatal visceral leishmaniasis."[23] "Peganine hydrochloride dihydrate, besides being safe, was found to induce apoptosis in both the stages of L. donovani via loss of mitochondrial transmembrane potential."[24]

Another alkaloid harmine found in Peganum harmala, ". . .because of its appreciable efficacy in destroying intracellular parasites as well as non-hepatotoxic and non-nephrotoxic nature, harmine, in the vesicular forms, may be considered for clinical application in humans."[25]

One study using the medicinal plant Peganum harmala showed it to have a lifesaving effect on cattle infected with the protozoal East Coast fever,[26] which can be 100% fatal and killed 1.1 million cattle in Africa in 1991.


"The beta-carboline alkaloids present in medicinal plants, such as Peganum harmala and Eurycoma longifolia, have recently drawn attention due to their antitumor activities. Further mechanistic studies indicate that beta-carboline derivatives inhibit DNA topoisomerases and interfere with DNA synthesis."[27]

Peganum harmala has antioxidant and antimutagenic properties.[28]

Peganum harmala as well as harmine exhibit cytotoxicity with regards to HL60 and K562 leukemia cell lines.[29] Ground Peganum harmala seeds have been used occasionally to treat skin cancer and subcutaneous cancers traditionally in Morocco.[30] Seed extracts also show effectiveness against various tumor cell lines both in vitro and in vivo.[30]


Harmaline, one of the alkaloids of Peganum harmala

The active alkaloids of Harmal seeds are the MAOI-A (monoamine oxidase inhibitor A) compounds:

The coatings of the seeds are said to contain large amounts of harmine.[2]
Total harmala alkaloids were at least 5.9% per dried weight, in one study.[31]

The stems of the plant contain about 0.36% alkaloids, the leaves about 0.52%,[33] and the roots up to 2.5%.[34]

Harmine and harmaline are reversible inhibitors of MAO-A (RIMA).[15]

See also

Further reading

  • Al-Shamma A, Drake S, Flynn DL, et al. (1981). "Antimicrobial agents from higher plants. Antimicrobial agents from Peganum harmala seeds". J Nat Prod. 44 (6): 745–7. doi:10.1021/np50018a025. PMID 7334386.  

External links


  1. ^ "Peganum harmala information from NPGS/GRIN". http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?27098. Retrieved 2008-02-17.  
  2. ^ a b "Peganum genus". www.cdfa.ca.gov. http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/phpps/ipc/weedinfo/peganum.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-02.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f "RECOGNITION AND CONTROL OF AFRICAN RUE IN NEVADA". Retrieved 2008-04-19.  
  4. ^ a b c "Erowid Syrian Rue Vaults: Smoking Rue Extract / Harmala". www.erowid.org. http://www.erowid.org/plants/syrian_rue/syrian_rue_info9.shtml. Retrieved 2008-12-01.  
  5. ^ "Lycaeum > Leda > Peganum harmala". leda.lycaeum.org. http://leda.lycaeum.org/?ID=360. Retrieved 2008-12-01.  
  6. ^ "PLANTS Profile for Peganum harmala (harmal peganum) / USDA PLANTS". USDA. 2008-01-17. http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=PEHA. Retrieved 2008-01-18.  
  7. ^ "Catalogue of Life : 2007 Annual Checklist : Peganum harmala L.". Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). 2007-01-18. http://www.catalogueoflife.org/show_species_details.php?record_id=715140. Retrieved 2008-01-18.  
  8. ^ "Aspand - Espand - Esfand - Esphand Against the Evil Eye in Zoroastrian Magic". http://www.luckymojo.com/aspand.html. Retrieved 2008-01-19.  
  9. ^ Karel van der Torn, ed., "Haoma," Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. (New York: E.J. Brill, 1995), 730.
  10. ^ a b "Peganum harmala". www.ibiblio.org. http://www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/cgi-bin/arr_html?Peganum+harmala. Retrieved 2008-03-18.  
  11. ^ a b "Mordants". www.fortlewis.edu. http://www.fortlewis.edu/anthro/ethnobotany/Dbase/images/Documents/SW_DYEPLANTS_2.htm. Retrieved 2008-04-19.  
  12. ^ "Aluka - Entry for Peganum harmala Linn. [family ZYGOPHYLLACEAE"]. www.aluka.org. http://www.aluka.org/action/showMetadata?doi=10.5555/AL.AP.UPWTA.5_608&pgs=&cookieSet=1. Retrieved 2008-03-18.  
  13. ^ Monsef, Hamid Reza; Ali Ghobadi, Mehrdad Iranshahi, Mohammad Abdollahi (19 February 2004). "Antinociceptive effects of Peganum harmala L. alkaloid extract on mouse formalin test" (PDF). J Pharm Pharmaceut Sci 7 (1): 65–9. http://www.ualberta.ca/~csps/JPPS7(1)/M.Abdolahi/peganum.pdf. Retrieved 2008-02-02.  
  14. ^ "Moses the Shaman". www.scribd.com. http://www.scribd.com/doc/2231000/Moses-the-Shaman. Retrieved 2008-03-17.  
  15. ^ a b Massaro, Edward J. (2002). Handbook of Neurotoxicology. Humana Press. p. 237. ISBN 0896037967. http://books.google.com/books?id=2c2K-epbCDQC&pg=PA237&lpg=PA237&dq=harmaline+antidepressant&source=web&ots=IrcpVr4R_H&sig=5FvlysKKEN7Hb4_YjfgoZM8rsTg.  
  16. ^ Prashanth, D.; S. John (26 March 1999). "Antibacterial activity of Peganum harmala". Fitoterapia 70 (4): 438–9. doi:10.1016/S0367-326X(99)00065-9. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VSC-3Y9HHY8-P&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=aa590588ea25645b5368168a6ad4fcb8. Retrieved 2008-02-02.  
  17. ^ a b Arshad N, Zitterl-Eglseer K, Hasnain S, Hess M (Nov 2008). "Effect of Peganum harmala or its beta-carboline alkaloids on certain antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria and protozoa from poultry". Phytother Res 22 (11): 1533–8. doi:10.1002/ptr.2528. PMID 18814210.  
  18. ^ a b c "Peganum harmala". 2004. http://www.sdpi.org/alpine%20medicianl%20herbs/39.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-02.  
  19. ^ Jbilou R, Amri H, Bouayad N, Ghailani N, Ennabili A, Sayah F (Mar 2008). "Insecticidal effects of extracts of seven plant species on larval development, alpha-amylase activity and offspring production of Tribolium castaneum (Herbst) (Insecta: Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae)". Bioresour Technol. 99 (5): 959–64. doi:10.1016/j.biortech.2007.03.017. PMID 17493805.  
  20. ^ Panda H (2000). Herbs Cultivation and Medicinal Uses. Delhi: National Institute Of Industrial Research. pp. 435. ISBN 8186623469. http://books.google.com/books?id=Hlh9o7XhesEC&pg=PA434&lpg=PA434&dq=%22peganum+harmala%22+traditional+uses&source=web&ots=H0zkiHevtm&sig=mPuGsjOP_HbReZxDdMVu2LdiqR4&hl=en#PPA435,M1.  
  21. ^ a b c www.thenook.org
  22. ^ El-Dwairi QA, Banihani SM (Jun 2007). "Histo-functional effects of Peganum harmala on male rat's spermatogenesis and fertility". Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 28 (3): 305–10. PMID 17627267.  
  23. ^ Misra P, Khaliq T, Dixit A, et al. (Nov 2008). "Antileishmanial activity mediated by apoptosis and structure-based target study of peganine hydrochloride dihydrate: an approach for rational drug design". J Antimicrob Chemother. 62 (5): 998–1002. doi:10.1093/jac/dkn319. PMID 18694906.  
  24. ^ Misra P. et al. (2008). "Antileishmanial activity mediated by apoptosis and structure-based target study of peganine hydrochloride dihydrate: an approach for rational drug design.". Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 62 (5): 998–1002. doi:10.1093/jac/dkn319. PMID 18694906.  
  25. ^ Lala S. et al. (2004). "Harmine: evaluation of its antileishmanial properties in various vesicular delivery systems.". Journal of Drug Targeting 12 (3): 165–75. doi:10.1080/10611860410001712696. PMID 15203896.  
  26. ^ Derakhshanfar A, Mirzaei M (Mar 2008). "Effect of Peganum harmala (wild rue) extract on experimental ovine malignant theileriosis: pathological and parasitological findings". Onderstepoort J Vet Res. 75 (1): 67–72. PMID 18575066.  
  27. ^ Li Y, Liang F, Jiang W, et al. (Aug 2007). "DH334, a beta-carboline anti-cancer drug, inhibits the CDK activity of budding yeast". Cancer Biol Ther. 6 (8): 1193–9. PMID 17622795. http://www.landesbioscience.com/journals/cbt/abstract.php?id=4382.  
  28. ^ Moura DJ, Richter MF, Boeira JM, Pêgas Henriques JA, Saffi J (Jul 2007). "Antioxidant properties of beta-carboline alkaloids are related to their antimutagenic and antigenotoxic activities". Mutagenesis 22 (4): 293–302. doi:10.1093/mutage/gem016. PMID 17545209.  
  29. ^ Jahaniani F, Ebrahimi SA, Rahbar-Roshandel N, Mahmoudian M (Jul 2005). "Xanthomicrol is the main cytotoxic component of Dracocephalum kotschyii and a potential anti-cancer agent". Phytochemistry 66 (13): 1581–92. doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2005.04.035. PMID 15949825.  
  30. ^ a b Lamchouri, F; Settaf A, Cherrah Y, Zemzami M, Lyoussi B, Zaid A, Atif N, Hassar M (1999 Nov-Dec). "Antitumour principles from Peganum harmala seeds". Thérapie 54 (6): 753–8. PMID 10709452.  
  31. ^ a b c d e Hemmateenejad B, Abbaspour A, Maghami H, Miri R, Panjehshahin MR (Aug 2006). "Partial least squares-based multivariate spectral calibration method for simultaneous determination of beta-carboline derivatives in Peganum harmala seed extracts". Anal Chim Acta 575 (2): 290–9. doi:10.1016/j.aca.2006.05.093. PMID 17723604.  
  32. ^ a b c d Pulpati H, Biradar YS, Rajani M (2008). "High-performance thin-layer chromatography densitometric method for the quantification of harmine, harmaline, vasicine, and vasicinone in Peganum harmala". J AOAC Int 91 (5): 1179–85. PMID 18980138.  
  33. ^ Hammiche, V.; R. Merad (November 1997). "Peganum harmala L. (PIM 402F, French)" (in French). International Programme on Chemical Safety. http://www.inchem.org/documents/pims/plant/pim402fr.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-19.  
  34. ^ "Steppenraute (Peganum harmala) im GIFTPFLANZEN.COMpendium - www.giftpflanzen.com". www.giftpflanzen.com. http://www.giftpflanzen.com/peganum_harmala.html. Retrieved 2008-04-18.  

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