Peganum harmala

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This article is about a plant. For a town in Lebanon, see Hermel.
Peganum harmala
Peganum harmala1.jpg
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
L.[1]
Synonyms[2]
  • Harmala multifida All.
  • Harmala peganum Crantz
  • Harmala syriaca Bubani
  • Peganon harmalum (L.) St.-Lag.

Peganum harmala, commonly called Esfand,[3] wild rue,[1] Syrian rue,[1] African rue,[1] harmel,[1] or aspand[4] (among other similar pronunciations and spellings) is a plant of the family Nitrariaceae. It is native from the eastern Iranian region west to India. Its common English-language name came about because of a resemblance to rue (which is not related). The plant's seeds are especially noteworthy because they have seen continual use for thousands of years in the rites of many cultures.[5] The plant has remained a popular tool in both folk medicine and spiritual practices for so long that some historians believe the plant may be the ancient "soma"[6] (a medicinal aid that is mentioned in a variety of ancient texts but whose exact identity has been lost to history).

It is a perennial plant which can grow to about 0.8 m tall,[7] but normally it is about 0.3 m tall.[8] The roots of the plant can reach a depth of up to 6.1 m, if the soil where it is growing is very dry.[8] It blossoms between June and August in the Northern Hemisphere.[9] The flowers are white and are about 2.5–3.8 cm in diameter.[9] The round seed capsules measure about 1–1.5 cm in diameter,[10] have three chambers and carry more than 50 seeds.[9]

Peganum harmala was first planted in the United States in 1928 in New Mexico by a farmer wanting to manufacture the dye "Iranian red" from its seeds.[8] Since then, it has spread invasively to Arizona, California, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Washington.[11] "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."[8]

Traditional use[edit]

In Turkey, dried capsules from this plant are strung and hung in homes or vehicles to protect against "the evil eye".[12][5] It is widely used for protection against Djinn in Morocco (see Légey "Essai de Folklore marocain", 1926).

In Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries in the Arab world, dried capsules mixed with other ingredients are placed onto red hot charcoal, where they explode with little popping noises in a way similar to American popcorn. When they burst a fragrant smoke is released. This smoke is wafted around the head of those afflicted by or exposed to the gaze of strangers while a specific prayer is recited.[12][5] This tradition is still followed by members of many religions, including Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and some Jews.[12][5] The rite is so prevalent that the practice seems based more on culture than a modern religious practice, but is known to have originated during the ancient pre-Zoroastrian civilization in ancient Persia, spreading throughout the Semitic peoples of the region after the decline of that civilization.[12][5] This can be seen in several versions of the prayer still in use today, which specifically note the name of the Persian king who was said to have first learned the prayer from protective spirits.[12][5] The tradition of burning the plant to create cleansing smoke has reached as far as the Indian region of Kashmir, where the seeds are thrown into a charcoal fire used during the Vedic marriage rite or into charcoal pots as a way of warning off evil.[12][5]

Syrian rue
Peganum harmala fruit
Peganum harmala seeds as sold in Iran and Middle Eastern foods grocery store
Peganum harmala

Peganum harmala has been used to treat pain and to treat skin inflammations, including skin cancers.[13][14][15]

Peganum harmala has been used as an emmenagogue and abortifacient agent.[16][17]

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

It is also used as an anthelmintic (to expel parasitic worms). Reportedly, the ancient Greeks used the powdered seeds to get rid of tapeworms and to treat recurring fevers (possibly malaria).[19]

A red dye, "Turkey red",[20] from the seeds (but usually obtained from madder) is often used in western Asia to dye carpets. It is also used to dye wool. When the seeds are extracted with water, a yellow fluorescent dye is obtained.[21] If they are extracted with alcohol, a red dye is obtained.[21] The stems, roots and seeds can be used to make inks, stains and tattoos.[22]

Some scholars identify harmal with the entheogenic haoma of pre-Zoroastrian Persian religions.[23]

Research into other potential uses[edit]

Several scientific laboratories have studied possible uses for Peganum harmala through studies in laboratory animals (in vivo) and in cells (in vitro).

Fertility[edit]

In large quantities, it can reduce spermatogenesis and male fertility in rats.[24]

Antiprotozoal[edit]

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

Peganum harmala has been shown to have antibacterial and anti-protozoal activity,[25] including antibacterial activity against drug-resistant bacteria.[26]

One of the compounds found in P. harmala, vasicine (peganine), has been found to kill Leishmania donovani, a protozoan parasite that can cause potentially fatal visceral leishmaniasis.[27]

Another alkaloid, harmine, found in P. harmala, has appreciable efficacy in destroying intracellular parasites in the vesicular forms.[28]

A small study in sheep infected with the protozoal Theileria hirci found Peganum harmala extract to be an effective treatment.[29]

Anticancer[edit]

Peganum harmala for sale at a market in Kazakhstan

Seed extracts also show effectiveness against various tumor cell lines, both in vitro and in vivo.[14]

"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."[30]

Peganum harmala has antioxidant and antimutagenic properties.[31] Both the plant and the extract harmine exhibit cytotoxicity with regards to HL60 and K562 leukemia cell lines.[32]

Antidepressant[edit]

Harmaline, one of the alkaloids of Peganum harmala
Vasicine

Some alkaloids of harmal seeds are monoamine oxidase A inhibitors MAOI:[33]

The coatings of the seeds are said to contain large amounts of harmine.[7]
Total harmala alkaloids were at least 5.9% of dried weight, in one study.[34]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Peganum harmala information from NPGS/GRIN". Retrieved 2008-02-17. 
  2. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of all Plant Species". 
  3. ^ Mahmoud Omidsalar Esfand: a common weed found in Persia, Central Asia, and the adjacent areas. Encyclopedia Iranica Vol. VIII, Fasc. 6, pp. 583-584. Originally published: 15 December 1998. Online version last updated 19 January 2012
  4. ^ "againsttheevileye". Lucky Mojo dot com. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Herb Dictionary: apsand seed". Aunty Flo dot com herb-dictionary. 
  6. ^ Karel van der Torn, ed., "Haoma," Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. (New York: E.J. Brill, 1995), 730.
  7. ^ a b "Peganum genus". www.cdfa.ca.gov. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  8. ^ a b c d Davison, Jay; Wargo, Mike (2001). Recognition and Control of African Rue in Nevada. University of Nevada, Reno. OCLC 50788872. 
  9. ^ a b c "Erowid Syrian Rue Vaults: Smoking Rue Extract / Harmala". www.erowid.org. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  10. ^ "Lycaeum > Leda > Peganum harmala". leda.lycaeum.org. Retrieved 2008-12-01. [dead link]
  11. ^ "PLANTS Profile for Peganum harmala (harmal peganum) / USDA PLANTS". USDA. 2008-01-17. Retrieved 2008-01-18. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f "Esphand Against the Evil Eye in Zoroastrian Magic". Lucky Mojo dot com. 
  13. ^ Farouk L, Laroubi A, Aboufatima R, Benharref A, Chait A (February 2008). "Evaluation of the analgesic effect of alkaloid extract of Peganum harmala L.: possible mechanisms involved". J Ethnopharmacol 115 (3): 449–54. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2007.10.014. PMID 18054186. 
  14. ^ a b Lamchouri F, Settaf A, Cherrah Y, et al. (1999). "Antitumour principles from Peganum harmala seeds". Therapie 54 (6): 753–8. PMID 10709452. 
  15. ^ Jinous Asgarpanah (2012). "Chemistry, pharmacology and medicinal properties of Peganum harmala L". African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 6 (22). doi:10.5897/AJPP11.876. 
  16. ^ 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. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  17. ^ a b c http://www.thenook.org/archives/tek/06332ott.html[full citation needed]
  18. ^ Jbilou R, Amri H, Bouayad N, Ghailani N, Ennabili A, Sayah F (March 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. 
  19. ^ Panda H (2000). Herbs Cultivation and Medicinal Uses. Delhi: National Institute Of Industrial Research. p. 435. ISBN 81-86623-46-9. 
  20. ^ Mabberley, D.J. (2008). Mabberley's Plant-book: A Portable Dictionary of Plants, Their Classifications, and Uses. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521820714. 
  21. ^ a b "Mordants". www.fortlewis.edu. Retrieved 2008-04-19. [dead link]
  22. ^ "Aluka — Entry for Peganum harmala Linn. [family ZYGOPHYLLACEAE]". www.aluka.org. Retrieved 2008-03-18. [dead link]
  23. ^ Karel van der Torn, ed., "Haoma," Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. (New York: E.J. Brill, 1995), 730.
  24. ^ El-Dwairi QA, Banihani SM (June 2007). "Histo-functional effects of Peganum harmala on male rat's spermatogenesis and fertility". Neuro Endocrinol. Lett. 28 (3): 305–10. PMID 17627267. 
  25. ^ 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. 
  26. ^ Arshad N, Zitterl-Eglseer K, Hasnain S, Hess M (November 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. 
  27. ^ Misra P, Khaliq T, Dixit A, et al. (November 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. 
  28. ^ Lala S, Pramanick S, Mukhopadhyay S, Bandyopadhyay S, Basu MK (April 2004). "Harmine: evaluation of its antileishmanial properties in various vesicular delivery systems". J Drug Target 12 (3): 165–75. doi:10.1080/10611860410001712696. PMID 15203896. 
  29. ^ Derakhshanfar A, Mirzaei M (March 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. doi:10.4102/ojvr.v75i1.90. PMID 18575066. 
  30. ^ Li Y, Liang F, Jiang W, et al. (August 2007). "DH334, a beta-carboline anti-cancer drug, inhibits the CDK activity of budding yeast". Cancer Biol. Ther. 6 (8): 1193–9. doi:10.4161/cbt.6.8.4382. PMID 17622795. 
  31. ^ Moura DJ, Richter MF, Boeira JM, Pêgas Henriques JA, Saffi J (July 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. 
  32. ^ Jahaniani F, Ebrahimi SA, Rahbar-Roshandel N, Mahmoudian M (July 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. 
  33. ^ Massaro, Edward J. (2002). Handbook of Neurotoxicology. Humana Press. p. 237. ISBN 0-89603-796-7. 
  34. ^ a b c d e Hemmateenejad B, Abbaspour A, Maghami H, Miri R, Panjehshahin MR (August 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. 
  35. ^ 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. 
  36. ^ a b c d Herraiz T, González D, Ancín-Azpilicueta C, Arán VJ, Guillén H (March 2010). "beta-Carboline alkaloids in Peganum harmala and inhibition of human monoamine oxidase (MAO)". Food Chem. Toxicol. 48 (3): 839–45. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2009.12.019. PMID 20036304.