|Harmal (Peganum harmala) flower|
Harmal (Peganum harmala) flower
Harmal (Peganum harmala) is a plant of the family Nitrariaceae, native from the eastern Mediterranean region east to India. It is also sometimes known as Syrian Rue, a confusing name as it is not related to rue (Ruta, family Rutaceae).
It 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 notorious South American mixture of phyto-indoles including DMT with β-carbolines. Syrian Rue however has distinct aspects from caapi and a unique entheogenic signature.
In Turkey dried capsules from this plant are strung and hung in homes or vehicles to protect against "the evil eye".
In Iran, dried capsules (known in Persian as اسپند espænd or اسفنددانه esfænd-dāneh) - mixed with other ingredients - are burnt so as to produce a light, distinctly scented smoke or incense. It is used as an air as well as mind purifier - perhaps linked to its entheogenic properties - and mostly as a charm against "the evil eye". This Persian practice dates to pre-Islamic, Zoroastrian times.
The active alkaloids of Harmal seeds are the MAOI (MonoAmine Oxidase Inhibitor) compounds harmine, harmaline, and tetrahydroharmine (collectively known as harmala alkaloids). Harmaline is a "reversible inhibitor of MAO-A (RIMA)." The seeds contain about 2-6% alkaloids, most of which is harmaline.
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