What Are the Medical Uses of Harmal?

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  • Written By: K.C. Bruning
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 17 February 2020
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The medical uses of harmal are varied and extensive. It has been used for inflammation, hemorrhoids and menstrual discomfort. The smoke from heated seeds of this plant have been used for their antibacterial and antiparasitic properties. Harmal can kill mold, intestinal parasites and bacteria. Some patients have used it for pain, gastrointestinal troubles and urinary problems as well.

Other conditions this plant is claimed to treat include baldness, epilepsy and urinary disorders. The plant has been used for lice, nervousness and sexual problems as well. It also is believed to aid patients who have mental illnesses such as depression. There also has been some evidence that medicines made from the plant can fight the growth of cancerous tumors.

Harmaline is the active ingredient in harmal. It acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system. The seeds can be homegrown or purchased in grocery stores that sell Middle Eastern products. They also are ground and incorporated into products such as ointments, infusions and oils.

The most common side effects of using this plant for medical purposes include weak muscles and hallucinations. It also can cause pregnancy complications. The plant might have a dangerous interaction with other drugs or supplements. Children under the age of 2 and women who are pregnant, nursing or planning to become pregnant are advised not to use it, in most cases.


Harmal, which is also known as peganum harmala, is a drought-tolerant perennial flowering plant. It is a part of the zygophyllaceae family. The plant is most commonly found in the part of the Mediterranean region that sits east of India, although it also can be found in several states in the western United States. Syrian rue or wild rue are other common names for the plant.

Its blossoms are small and white. Blooms typically appear between June and August. After the flowers have died, the plant grows pods that carry dozens of seeds. The long, slender leaves of the plant are similar in appearance to evergreen needles.

There are several other common uses for harmal. The seeds and seed capsules can be used to make red and yellow dye. Harmal has been used to dye wool and particularly carpet fibers. The dye also is an ingredient in some kinds of inks and tattoos. In some eastern nations, seeds from the plant are mixed with other ingredients and placed on charcoal to create a fragrant smoke for religious ceremonies.


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Post 3

Nature has truly provided us with everything we need. I think it's amazing that there is a flower with so much benefits. And after the flower has withered, it leaves a pod full of these seeds which are so beneficial!

I agree that it's not wise to use harmal extensively though because too much could be toxic.

Post 2

@bluedolphin-- My family is from Iran and harmal is a very popular remedy there. It has antiseptic properties, so it's great or fighting infections, like respiratory infections. When I have a cold or cough, my mom will burn harmal and it helps a lot.

I've never experienced side effects from harmal but I don't use it unless I'm sick. I think those side effects occur after too much use. Some people consume the harmal seeds. I'm sure that's more likely to cause side effects than simply burning the seeds.

Post 1

This is the first time I'm hearing about harmal. It sounds like a very interesting herb.

Does the FDA have any restrictions on the use of harmal? It's not something that has been studied extensively it seems. And hallucinations as a side effect seems a little strange and dangerous.

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