Lycaeum > Leda > Taxonomy > Eukaryota > Plantae > Tracheophyta > Angiospermae > Dicotyledonae > Sapindales > Nitrariaceae > Peganum > Peganum harmala

Peganum harmala

Syrian rue

The seeds of this Middle-Eastern shrub have a long history of medical/psychoactive use. Their properties derive from MAO-inhibiting beta-carboline alkaloids, making it usefl as an ayahuasca admixture.

Widely known and used herb in it’s native area. The seeds yield a dye (‘turkish red’ or ‘syrian red’) long used in ‘Persian’ carpets. Seeds and roots contain b-carboline alkaloids, mostly harmine, as well as harmaline, harmalol, harman, peganine, isopeganine, dipegene, vasicinone and deoxyvasicinone. Egyptian studies found that extract is markedly fungicidal and bactericidal, due to harmine mostly. Reported to be used as an incense and spice, and to used as abortificant, narcotic, aphrodisiac, stimulant , sedative, emmanagogue, emetic, vermifuge, soporific. Reported to be used in India for syphilis, fever in North Africa, and for fever, hysteria, malaria, neuralgia, parkinsonism, prolapse of the womb, rheumatism, colic, asthma, eye complaints. Has been proposed as a candidate for the Zoroastrian drug "haoma". B-carboline alkaloids stimulate the brain and may induce visual hallucinations. Distinguished from B. caapi biochemically by reversed relative concentrations of harmine and harmaline.

Habit: perennial, succulent herb, up to 0.5m high, 1 to 1.5 m across.

Foliage: Succulent and finely branched leaves, irregularly 3 to 5 segments, bright green, 2.5-5 cm long. Stems zig-zagging and woody, many branches.

Flowers: 5 white petals, borne singly along stem in the leaf forks, 2.5-3 cm across.

Fruit: 3-celled capsule, 10-15 mm spherical, turning from green to brown/ orange when ripe, opening at the top in 3 valves, each cell having many seeds.

Seeds: angular, dark brown with distinctive smell. 3-4 mm x 2 mm each.

HabitatNative to arid parts of North Africa and the Mediterranian, the Middle East and across to Pakistan and India. Introduced and naturalized in parts of the Southwest USA, and a few areas of South Africa and New South Wales in Australia.


  • Oral

    3 g ground seeds is a standard dose to induce MAO inhibition. Higher doses exhibit potent psychoactive effects. Lower doses should be used whenever body mass and personal biochemistry permit.

  • Smoked

    Smoking P. harmala seeds gives some MAO inhibition and a mild, marijuana-like buzz.

Isolated Chemicals:



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Created 3/23/2000 1:15:24
Modified 9/12/2000 13:17:18
Leda version 1.4.3

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