Peganum Harmala (Espand) in Traditional Iranian Medicine

Peganum Harmala flowers
Learn more about Peganum Harmala (Espand) and its properties
Peganum Harmala flowers
Learn more about Peganum Harmala (Espand) and its properties

Peganum Harmala, commonly known as wild rue, is a shrub plant from the Qaradaghian (Nitrariaceae) family. This plant usually grows in sour soil. Peganum Harmala has a few different names in traditional Iranian medicine: Esfand, Espand, Harmel, and more. The seeds of this plant are used as disinfectant and air freshener, and it is believed that they ward off bad spirits and evil eye (malicious intent). Of course, the Peganum Harmala plant has medicinal properties and other uses as well.

Traditional Application of Peganum Harmala

Peganum Harmala is one of the well-known traditional medicinal herbs, utilized in different methods. Some people believe that this medicinal plant is edible because of its many properties; But the reality is something else. Here we introduce a few ways of using the Espand plant:

Peganum Harmala Seeds

Espand seeds are not edible. Use of Espand as food was only customary in Yemen where the Jewish population used a small amount of the leaves of this medicinal herb to whiten wheat flour after a special ceremony. Today, medical science has clearly stated that eating the seeds of this medicinal plant, even as much as 3 to 4 grams, causes nausea and dizziness and may lead to death in humans or animals.

Peganum Harmala Extract

Peganum Harmala extract is a useful item in traditional Iranian medicine that can be found in Attari (apothecary).

The mentioned medicinal herb has Alkaloids such as beta Carboline, Harmaline, Harmine and Harmalol are stored in different parts of the plant such as seeds, roots, stems, leaves and flowers. Of course, a substantial amount of alkaloids are stored in the Esfand seeds. Therefore, Peganum Harmala has many therapeutic properties due to the presence of the mentioned substances, and its extract is used in the following cases:

Pain Relief

Certain substances in Alkaloid seeds have similar effects to morphine. Therefore, the local use of Espand extract is effective in pain relief.

Antibacterial Properties

Lab studies suggest that Peganum Harmala seed extracts have a positive impact on overall health. This extract can be used to eradicate many pathogenic bacteria. Of course, these findings have only been conducted in laboratory conditions and need further investigation.

Antioxidant Properties of Peganum Harmala

This traditional medicinal plant contains valuable alkaloids from the β-carboline family, and is able to prevent the growth of cancer cells.

Boosting The Immune System

Based on available research, the alkaloids from the β-carboline family that are present in this medicinal herb can boost the body’s immune system. The growth of cancer cells in humans weakens the immune system, so the use of Espand extract can boost the immune system and help fight cancer.

Peganum Harmala Incense

Burning Espand seeds over coal or fire is a traditional custom in Iran. Peganum Harmala incense has the following benefits:

Disinfecting The House

Peganum Harmala incense has germicidal properties and was traditionally used to disinfect hospitals. This medicinal plant is a powerful disinfectant.

Peganum Harmala Powder

One of the other methods to utilize this plant is seed powder. Espand powder has medicinal properties and is particularly useful. Note that this powder should not be eaten because it is highly toxic. Traditional Hakims recommended to use it alone or in combination with other substances, in the form of a mask, for external treatment.

Head Lice Treatment

Peganum Harmala can be used to treat head lice. By combining Espand seed powder with mustard oil and forming a paste. You can apply this paste to your scalp to treat lice. For better efficiency, you should do this once a day.

Peganum Harmala Oil

Peganum Harmala seeds have other medicinal uses
Learn more about the healing properties of Espand seeds

Oil is obtained from Espand seeds, which has many properties:

  • Antibacterial
  • Antifungal
  • Treating Intestinal parasite
  • Antioxidant
  • Pain Relief
  • Anticonvulsant
  • Treatment of Cold Temperament Uterus (Traditional Iranian Medicine Diagnosis)
  • and…

Joint Pain Relief

Peganum Harmala oil has analgesic properties. Due to its hot and dry temperament, it is effective in reducing joint pain. For this effect, a few drops of Espand oil are applied to the affected area.

Dried Peganum harmala seeds
Dried Espand (Peganum harmala) seeds

Peganum Harmala Infusion

As mentioned earlier, Peganum Harmala is not an edible medicinal herb. Therefore, its brew cannot be consumed like a tea. Rather, it is used in the following methods:

House Plant Pesticide

The infusion of this plant is an excellent pesticide for house plants. For this purpose, pour about half a glass (125 ml) of Espand infusion in a plant’s pot to eradicate the pests.

Other Therapeutic Effects of Peganum Harmala in Traditional Iranian Medicine

In traditional Iranian medicine, this medicinal herb is used to treat various diseases, including diabetes, asthma, high fever, bladder stones, jaundice, malaria, Parkinson’s disease and rheumatism.

Peganum Harmala Medicinal Use

Egypt: treatment of infectious diseases and strong germicide

Iran: reducing blood sugar, mood booster, removing bladder stones and inhibiting the growth of cancer cells (according to new research)

North Africa: reducing fever

Traditional Iranian Medicine, an Intangible Cultural Heritage

In Destination Iran, we believe that learning about Iran and familiarizing ourselves with different aspects of Iranian culture and identity is a fundamental step in promoting Iranian national identity. In this sense, traditional medicine is an integral part of the Iranian culture.

The people of every region in Iran use traditional medicinal herbs to maintain their health and treat diseases, depending on the herbs that grow in their region. You can also help the economy of the host community by buying native herbs or their processed products while traveling on Iran tour packages. In this way, you can learn from their traditional knowledge about these plants.

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