Peganum spp.



Syrian Rue; Esphand.

NO EXPORT !

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Peganum spp.

Important legal information for Australian customers:

1) The importation of Peganum harmala or any other harmine/harmaline containing herbal material into Australia is prohibited under the Customs Act 1901, Regulations, Schedule 4 (Drugs).
2) The export of Peganum harmala or any other harmine/harmaline containing herbal material is prohibited under Schedule 8 (export regulations) of the Customs Act.
4) Consumption of any harmine/harmaline containing material is prohibited under state legislation in most Australian states.
5) Ayahuasca brew is deemed to be harmine/harmaline under the law (ie 100ml of the brew is deemed to be 100g of drug). In fact, any herbal material is deemed to be the drug (ie 100g of ayahuasca vine is deemed to be 100g of harmine/harmaline).
6) Possession of harmaline containing material such as Peganum harmala seeds may (or may not) be illegal under the Standard for the uniform scheduling of drugs and poisons (Australia), Schedule 9 (the same schedule as Heroin!!!!!), but treated seeds are excluded under Appendix A, and are thus legal to trade and possess. Our seeds are treated with food grade sulphur dust. In NSW the penalties for possession of harmine/harmaline are severe. The commercial quantity limit (maximum penalty = 20 years prison) is set at 5g. The large commercial quantity limit (maximum penalty = life in prison) is set at 20g. (note the penalty for 20g of harmine/harmaline is equivalent to 500g of ecstasy, or 1kilo of heroin, or1 kilo of cocaine, or 2 kilos of DMT, or 1000 cannabis plants)
7) Ayahuasca possession and consumption is legal in Holland, Brazil and some (VERY few) other countries. In Brazil a study commissioned by the government has shown that ayahuasca consumption was beneficial for society and individuals.
8) It is our understanding that live plants are not restricted in any way within Australia as long as there is no intent for preparation or consumption. Our plants are available for preservation purposes only (Disclaimer - some quarantine restrictions may apply in some states, such as SA & WA).


Botanical information

Bushy, herbaceous perennial with short creeping roots, to 0.8 m tall. Stems stiff, erect, highly branched, angled above, glabrous. Leaves alternate, fleshy, bright green, 2-5 cm long, irregularly divided 3 times or more into linear segments. Stipules bristle-like. Taproot branched, with stout, short-creeping lateral roots usually greater than 15 cm deep. New shoots can develop from lateral roots. Flowers white, ~ 2.5 cm in diameter and solitary on stalks 2-5 cm long or more in the leaf axils. Sepals 5, linear, ~ 1.5 cm long. Petals 5, oblong, ~ 1.5 cm long. Flowers late spring-early fall. Capsules spherical, leathery, 7-15 mm in diameter, orange-brown at maturity, 3-chambered, and opening by 3 valves at the apex to release numerous dark brown to black angular seeds, 3-4 mm long. Above ground parts die back in winter.

Native to Asia and Syria, but now naturalised and/or weedy in many countries, including arid areas of Australia.

Sow seed 5-10mm deep into slightly moist, very well-drained seeding mix or sand. Germination is greatly assisted by applying bottom heat or by sowing in midsummer. High humidity may cause seedlings to rot, limiting the usefulness of propagation domes. Should germinate in a few days, but may take a few weeks. Plants do not like to transplanted, but if this is desired, cut back 80% of the plant top before transplanting and water root system in well. This is an arid zone plant and will need to be protected from excessive rain in high rainfall areas. The plant dies back to the tuberous root and stays dormant like this over winter. Keep dry while dormant.


Traditional uses

The plant is used traditionally as an emmenagogue and an abortifacient agent in the Middle East and North Africa. The fruits of Peganum Harmala are the source of a red dye and an oil. The esteem in which Peganum Harmala is held amongst peoples of the East is extraordinary. Most commonly it is used as an incense. Although there are repeated but vague reports of the employment of Peganum harmala as a traditional hallucinogen, its actual narcotic use in inducing visions has not yet been established beyond a doubt. It certainly has some mindaltering effects including sedation.

Neo-shamans use the seeds for their MAO inhibiting effects (Danger!) in ayahuasca analog brews. For these the seed is often ground and brewed with water and a dash of lemon juice, or quite simply chewed and swallowed. The average dose appears to be about 3g.


Pharmacology

The pharmacologically active compounds of Peganum harmala are several alkaloids, which are found especially in the seeds (2-7% total) and the roots. These include beta-carbolines such as: harmine, harmaline (=harmidine), harmalol and harman. The use of Peganum alkaloids is often compared to the use of Banisteriopsis caapi for the purpose of MAO inhibition, however there are some distinct pharmacological differences which probably translate to differences in effect (presumably very variable on an individual basis). While Peganum harmala contains liberal amounts of both harmine and harmaline, Banisteriopsis caapi is very variable in its alkaloid profile, most commonly though it is high in harmine while lacking harmaline. Peganum harmala also lacks tetrahydroharmine which is presumed to be a potent aspect of the traditional ayahuasca brew. Both also contain harmane, which is presumed not to be active as a MAO inhibitor, but nonetheless contributes to the experience by acting as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor.

Peganum harmala also contains the quinazoline derivatives vasicine and vasicinone. It is believed that these quinazoline alkaloids are responsible for the abortifacient activity of Peganum harmala extracts. It has been reported that these chemicals have a uterine stimulatory effect, apparently through the release of prostaglandins. The Manske method (search on erowid.org for details) of extracting the alkaloids recovers only the harmala alkaloids, with the quinazoline alkaloids being lost. The seeds also contain a fluorescent compound, which is most likely the betacarbolines themselves.

The roots of the dormant (winter) plant are said to be as potent as the seeds.

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