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Also known as esfand and harmal, Peganum harmala has an interesting Eastern history. In Turkey, dried parts from this plant are strung and hung in homes and vehicles to protect against 'the evil eye'. In Iran it is used as an incense, to purify the air as well as the mind.
Many people who make ayahuasca (analogues of the psychedelic, Amazonian brew ayahuasca), use Syrian rue instead of Banisteriopsis caapi.
Common use of Syrian rue has the effect of a psychopharmacological tool, making otherwise inactive plants active. Sometimes Syrian rue is used to strengthen and prolong the effects of substances that are active by themselves. Syrian rue prevents the breakdown of monoamine neurotransmitters by inhibiting the action of monoamine oxidase enzymes, a process known as MAO-inhibition.
A small number of people is experimenting with the effects of only Syrian rue infusions or smoked seeds. The effects of low doses are sometimes referred to as 'the harmala buzz', as it tends to cause a buzzing feeling throughout the head and body. This is also the initial stage for most people taking a higher dose, though it generally unfolds into a stronger experience associated with nausea, stomach cramps and vomiting. Also, psychedelic effects, such as visual and auditive distortions and mystical phenomena, seem to be common for some people.
It is possible to consume the seeds directly, by grinding them with your molars. Let the ground seeds have interplay with your saliva for half a minute up to a couple of minutes and swallow. Another way is to grind the seeds with a mortar and put the powder in gel caps. With these methods, none of the active ingredients gets lost in the preparation process. For a Syrian rue only experience, doses are still experimental. People should start with 1 gram to see how they react. 5 grams is a high dose for most people.
Another common preparation method, which is easier on the stomach and causes less nausea in general, is to make a hot water infusion. Part of the active ingredients can easily get lost in the process of this method, so add 1 to 2 grams to the doses mentioned earlier. 150 ml of water and 50 ml of lemon juice per person is used. Simmer the finely ground seeds for 15 to 30 minutes on the lowest fire on your stove and strain the liquid, which is then ready for consumption.
And finally, many people still use these seeds as an incense. In high amounts, this can also cause MAO-inhibition, albeit of a shorter duration in comparison with oral ingestion.
Peganum Harmala is easy to grow. Sow the seeds in late spring (indoors) in a sandy soil mixture and be moderate with water. Put on a sunny spot and keep the temperature above 20 °C. Once your plant is all grown up (and placed outdoors) frost and dryness will not affect your plant anymore. During wintertime, the leaves will die, but the roots keep themselves in deep hibernation, they will wake up again at the crack of spring.
The primary active ingredients in P. harmala are harmine and harmaline. (C. Raetsch 2005)
Peganum harmala contains MAO-inhibiting substances. This means it can be very dangerous when combined with certain foods or other psychoactives that are totally harmless when taken by themselves.
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You can find more information, links and experiences with Peganum harmala at Erowid.