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Peganum Harmala (Syrian Rue) Medicinal Uses

Peganum harmala seeds are the most concentrated natural source of Harmala alkaloids (Harmine and Harmaline).

In modern Western culture it is used widely for its strong MAO-inhibiting properties and is commonly used as a substitute for Banisteriopsis caapi vine - the key plant ingredient in the sacramental beverage Ayahuasca.

In the Middle East, Peganum harmala has been used both as an entheogen and as a medicine for many centuries, below you can read more.

Use of Peganum harmala in Iranian traditional herbal medicine

I can cure dementia. My incense heals the toothache. I am useful for curing drug addiction. I cure coughing. Prescribe me for blood purifying. My smoke treats allergy. I cure asthma if you use me according to direction.

In Persian I named esfand, I am also called sepand and espand. In Arabic I am called harmel. I am those black seeds that sit on the Persian wedding trays and I put in fire to ward off evil eyes.

I grow in all wastelands and desert margins of Iran including Tehran-Saveh, Tehran-Qom, Isfahan-Kashan, Qazvin-Rostamabad (Rudbar), Karaj suburbs, Azna-Bushehr, Tafresh and several other regions in Iran. My seeds are hypnotic, cause perspiration, anti-worm and promote menstruation. I loose mucus; I am lactogogue, diuretic and carminative, laxative for eczema and phlegm and anthelmintic of Taenia. Eating my seeds is beneficial for treatment of epilepsy (hysteria), dementia and other neurotic and psychic diseases. I am useful for curing hydropsy and sciatic. Eating my soaked seeds is useful for digesting eczematous materials, blood purifying and loosing mucus. Boiling 37 grams of my seeds with four time of water and then filtered the solution and mix it with 100 gram of honey and 70 grams of sesame oil is useful for asthma and cure dry as well as wet cough if it is gradually eaten for one month. If you put a small quantity of the seeds in 30 times as much water of grape juice and boil to a quarter and drink each day 10 grams for 30 days, it would have an undeniable effect for hysteria. If those suffering from sciatic eat 7.5 grams of my seeds continually for 15 days, it will be cure. My seeds accompany with flax seed and honey is prescribed for asthma. Those who are addicted to drug can roast my seeds and then pound them with honey for cure. My smoke is anti-allergy hence it is useful for fighting evil eye of people who we have allergy. My incense alleviates toothache. I should be eaten from 5 grams to 10 grams and exceeding that in eating would be poisonous. I will cure hasty ejaculation which caused by debauchery and I am the most useful drug for nocturnal emission.

Chemical composition

Esfand seed has alkaloids like Harmine, Harmaline and Harmalol. Medically the Harmaline gives power to central nervous system.

Therapeutic properties

Strong anti-bacteria, lactogogue, promote menstruation, carminative, diuretic, anthelmintic of Taenia, beneficial for neurotic disease, epilepsy, palsy, dementia, amnesia,  hydropsy and alleviation for sciatic, purifies blood. The esfand’s extract is beneficial for palsy, tremor, and epilepsy, muscles’ jerk, alleviation of backache, sciatic, phlegmatic kidney and womb. The seeds of Esfand are analgesic and will reduce stomachache and refrigerant.


-Esfand powder: Those who suffer from sciatic should eat 5-7.5 grams of pounded esfand each night for 15 days to alleviate the pain- the mixture of esfand powder with flax seed and a little honey is useful for asthma.

- Esfand’s seeds powder: to avoid flatulence, pound 10 gram seeds of esfand, add 250 grams of honey to it and eat three teaspoons daily. If you mix the powder with datura extract and put it on beaten muscles, alleviate the pain and decrease the swell immediately. To control epilepsy, stroke the seeds of esfand and use two grams at the evenings for two months.

- Mixtures of esfand’s seeds with other herbs: For curing of hoarseness mix 5 grams of esfand with 10 grams of Hyssop and 25 grams of honey and use three teaspoon daily.

- Anti-asthma syrup: stroke two grams of esfand’s seeds with two grams of puree. Solve the mixture with a cup of honey and add decoction of hollyhock, fennel, violet and 30 grams of figs to it. The result is real efficient anti-asthma syrup.

- The esfand’s leaves decoction: the decoction is useful for traumatism.

- Soaking: the soaking of it is useful for blood purifying and expulsion of eczema.

- The decoction of the herb with grape juice: boil 450 grams of esfand with 15 kg grape juice let ¾ of it to be evaporated and use 60 grams of decoction for one month to cure chronic headache and to control epilepsy.

- Brewing the herb: Rub the brewing to muscles to empower them and to avoid weakness. Mix the brewing with sesame oil and use for a while to cure lung and liver disease.

- Massage lotion: boil 5 grams of esfand with 15 grams of dills, 15 grams chamomile, 10 grams of Yellow Sweet Clover Seeds and 5 grams of galangal and put the convulsive organ of the patient in cold lotion and massage it.

 - Massage lotion: pound 50 grams of Esfand’s seeds halfly and soak it in boiling water. Then boil the mixture unless it became the half. Put the remaining mixture in 200 grams of sesame oil and rub it to the paralyzed organ regularly.

- Esfand’s seeds plaster: to alleviate the pains of joints mix 10 grams of esfand’s seeds with 10 grams of marjoram, 10 grams chamomile and 10 gram yellow sweet clover seeds and pound them all. Then add flower oil and make the plaster.


- Esfand’s extract: massage with this extract is beneficial for trepidation, weakness, epilepsy and muscles’ jerk. The enema with the esfand’s extract is useful for alleviating of backache, sciatic, phlegmatic kidney and womb.

- Herbal bath: if an organ of the body becomes paralyzed, mix and boil the equal measure of esfand’s seeds, marjoram, chamomile, the leaves of bitter orange, ruta graveolens, lavender, lemon balm, leaves of marshmallow and make the patient to sit in it. This herbal bath is very useful to cure paralyzed patient.

- Washing lotion: the decoction of Esfand’s root is used for killing louses.

- Effective drug for nerves: to control temptation, mental and physical fatigue and revive youthful energy, mix 5 grams of esfand’s powder with 5 grams of ginger, 5 grams of cloves, 15 grams of basil seeds, 10 grams of lemon balm and 5 grams of cardamom and then pound it. Mix it with 250 grams of honey and eat three teaspoonful daily.

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