Peganum harmala, commonly called "Syrian rue," is native to China, the eastern Mediterranean region east to India, and the western United States and can grow spontaneously in arid and rocky areas.
Peganum harmala contains beta-carboline alkaloids (harmine, harmaline, harmalol) that are toxic to both humans and animals. These alkaloids are used in alcoholic beverages, well-cooked foods, and tobacco smoke, and they have known hallucinogenic and strong monoamine oxidase inhibitory (MAOI) activity.
Harmala alkaloids, harmaline and harmine, are known to cause tremors.
When consumed by farm animals, Peganum harmala may have either a sedative or stimulant effect. In humans, the seeds are known to primarily cause a stimulant and hallucinogenic effect. In China, Mongolia, Iran, and Morocco, the seeds have been used to treat various diseases and purposes, such as cancer, hepatic arterial embolization, and high fevers. The seeds may also be used to relieve grief and as a disinfectant. In South America, it is reportedly combined with dimethyltryptamine to make an infusion known as ayahuasca and is used for various healing purposes.
Traditionally, the stems, roots, and seeds have been used for nonmedical purposes, such as making dyes, inks, stains, and tattoos. The plant has also been mixed with other ingredients and placed onto charcoal, where it makes a popping sound and releases a fragrant smoke used in prayer rituals. The dried capsules are also used and hung in homes or vehicles, because it is believed to protect against the "evil eye."
Acacetin 7-O-rhamnoside, acetoxyolean, African rue, alpha-(4-nitrobenzylidine) harmine, anthraquinones, beta-carboline, caffeoyloxyolean, canthin-6-one alkaloids, deoxyvasicine, deoxyvasicinone, desoxypeganine, digalactosyldiacylglycerols, dihydroconiferyl ferulate, dihydrosinapyl ferulate, esphand, fatty acids, flavonoids, fructose, gamma-harmine, glucose, glycoflavone 2'''-O-rhamnosyl-2"-O-glucosylcytisoside, harmal, harmal shrub, harmala alkaloids, harmalan, harmaline, harmalol, harman alkaloids, harmane, harmel, harmidine, harmine, harmol, harmol glucuronide, harmol sulfate, huzerlik, isband, kaempferol, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, lipids, luotonin C, luotonin D, luotuo-peng, lupene-type triterpenoids, mercury (II) - harmaine, mercury (II) -harmaline, mercury (II) - harmine, monogalactosyldiacylglycerols, N-acyl tetrahydroharmine derivatives, nigellastrine-I, nigellastrine-II, nor-harmane, oxotirucalla, ozallaik, peganetin, peganidine, peganole, peganone, peganone-1, peganone-2, peganum, Peganum harmala, Peganum multisectum, Peganum nigellastrum, phenylpropanoids, phenylquinoline, prolin, pyrrolidinoquinazoline alkaloid, quercetin, quinoline alkaloids, rutin, steppenraute, sterols, sucrose, Syrian rue, tetraglycoside, tetrahydroharmine, triterpenoids, uzerlik, vasicine, (+)-vasicinol hydro-chloride dihydrate, vasicinone, wild rue, Zygophyllaceae (family).
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.