Research into other potential uses
Several scientific laboratories have studied possible uses for Peganum harmala through studies in laboratory animals (in vivo) and in cells (in vitro).
In very large quantities (dosages exceeding those commonly used for medicinal, therapeutic, or spiritual purposes), it can reduce spermatogenesis and male fertility in rats.
Peganum harmala has been shown to have antibacterial and anti-protozoal activity, including antibacterial activity against drug-resistant bacteria.
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.
Another alkaloid, harmine, found in P. harmala, has appreciable efficacy in destroying intracellular parasites in the vesicular forms.
A small study in sheep infected with the protozoal Theileria hirci found Peganum harmala extract to be an effective treatment.
“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 DNAtopoisomerases and interfere with DNA synthesis.”
Peganum harmala has antioxidant and antimutagenic properties. Both the plant and the extract harmine exhibit cytotoxicity with regards to HL60 and K562 leukemia cell lines.
Some alkaloids of harmal seeds are monoamine oxidase A inhibitors (MAOIs):
- Harmane, 0.16%
- Harmine, 0.44%–1.84%–4.3%
- The coatings of the seeds are said to contain large amounts of harmine.
- Harmaline, 0.25%–0.79%–5.6%
- Harmalol, 0.6%–3.90%
- Tetrahydroharmine, 0.1%
- Total harmala alkaloids were at least 5.9% of dried weight, in one study.
- Vasicine (peganine),0.25%
- Vasicinone, 0.0007%