Botanical Name(s): Peganum Harmala
Family Name: Nitrariaceae
Species: P. harmala
Popular Name(s): Harmal, Syrian Rue, Esphand, Harmel, Isband, Peganum, Steppenraute, Ozallaik, Yuzerlik.
Parts Used: Seeds
Habitat: Native to sub tropical regions of India
Africa rue is a bushy herbaceous perennial shrub that can grow to a height of 1 meter, but is usually around 0.3 meter high. If the soil is dry, the plant roots can reach a depth of 6.1 meters. The leaves are fleshy, spiky-looking, linear and short pointed, while the seeds are small and brown. The capsules have three chambers, measuring about 1 to 1.5 cm in diameter and contain more than 50 seeds. The white flowers bloom in the months of May and June. They are about 2.5 to 3.8 cm in diameter with five petals each. Africa rue is native from the eastern Mediterranean region to India. It has now spread to New Mexico, Arizona, California, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
(+)- Seeds contain harmane (0.16%), harmine (0.44%), harmaline (0.25-0.79%), harmalol (3.90%), tetrahydroharmine, vasicine (0.25%), vasicinone (0.0007%), alkaloids (stem-0.36%, leaves-0.52%, roots-2.5%).
Uses & Benefits of Africa Rue
- Africa rue is an analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent.
- An active ingredient of Africa rue, harmaline is a central nervous system stimulant. Hence, the herb is used in treating depression.
- Since it has anti-bacterial activity, the smoke of the herb is used to kill algae, bacteria, intestinal parasites and molds.
- The root of the herb is applied on the head, to kill lice.
- The seeds are used in the powdered form, to get rid of tapeworms and treat recurring fevers.
- The decoction of Africa rue is used for treating laryngitis.
- Its seeds are used in the treatment of skin cancer and subcutaneous cancers.
- The seed extracts are also effective against various tumor cell lines, both in vitro and in vivo. They are also used for fragrance and killing insects.
- The leaf decoction is used in rheumatism.
- The herb serves as a useful medicine in hysterical affections, coughs, croupy affections, colic and flatulence.
- Africa rue is used as a devil repellant and protection against evil eyes.
- The plant helps in baldness, period pains and worms. It also increases the volume of breast milk production.
- Africa rue is an abortifacient. Thus, when taken in large quantities, it can reduce spermatogenesis and male fertility.
- Higher doses can result in nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps. In some people, psychedelic effects like visual and auditive distortions and mystical phenomena can also be seen.