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Harmala alkaloid

Drugs & Medication

Harmala alkaloid

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The Harmala alkaloid "Harmine", also known as Telepathine and Banisterine, is a naturally occurring beta-carboline alkaloid that is structurally related to harmaline. Harmine and harmaline are reversible monoamine oxidase inhibitors. They can stimulate CNS by inhibiting the metabolism of serotonin and other monoamines.

Some harmala alkaloids, particularly harmine and harmaline, are found in the seeds of the Middle Eastern plant Harmal (Peganum harmala, from which the name derives), commonly known as Syrian Rue. They occur in the seeds in concentrations of roughly 3%, though tests have documented anywhere from 2-7%, as natural sources tend to vary widely in chemical makeup. Harmala alkaloids are also found in the vine Banisteriopsis caapi in concentrations that range between 0.31-8.43% for harmine, 0.03-0.83% for harmaline and 0.05-2.94% for tetrahydroharmine [THH].[1] Banisteriopsis caapi is the key plant ingredient in the sacramental beverage Ayahuasca. Leaves from "Psychotria viridis", a source of DMT, are often added to Ayahuasca to achieve visionary states of consciousness. Many other psychoactive plants are known to be added to , as the harmala alkaloids are not significantly psychoactive on its own.

Harmala alkaloids are also found in many other plants, such as tobacco and passion flower.



Telepathine was originally thought to be the active chemical constituent of Banisteriopsis caapi, a key plant ingredient in the preparation of Ayahuasca; a sacremental beverage from the Amazon. This isolated chemical was so named because of the reported effects of Ayahuasca among the indigenous users, including: collective contact with and/or visions of jaguars, snakes, and jeweled birds, and ancestral spirits; the ability to see future events; and as the name suggests, telepathic communication among tribal members. It was assumed to be a newly discovered chemical at the time, however, it was soon realized that Telepathine was already more widely known as Harmine from its previous discovery in Syrian Rue (Peganum harmala).


As mentioned above, some harmala alkaloids can be used as an MAOI (MonoAmine Oxidase Inhibitor) to facilitate the oral ingestion of DMT and other tryptamines; it is not hallucinogenic on its own. In high doses, it acts a purgative. Harmala alkaloids from Banisteriopsis caapi have been used to treat Parkinson's disease. Additionally, Harmaline is used as a model for Essential Tremor when injected to animals. Rats being treated with Harmaline exhibit severe tremors after 5-7 minutes. In-Vitro research showed that Harmaline increased subthreshold oscillations in neuronal membrane potential in a brainstem slice preparation containing the Inferior Olive.


  1. ^ Callaway JC, Brito GS & Neves ES (2005). Phytochemical analyses of Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 37(2): 145-150.

Chemical Forms

  • Harmine: C13H12N2O
  • Harmaline: C13H14N2O
  • Tetrahydroharmine: C13H16N2O4P
  • Harmine acid: methylester:
  • Harmilinic acid:
7-methoxy-3,4-dihydro-b-carboline1-carboxylic acid
  • Harmanamide:
  • Acethylnorharnine:

See also

Home | Up | Reversible inhibitors of MAO-A | Harmala alkaloid | List of foods containing tyramine | Tobacco

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