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Syrian Rue

What other names is Syrian Rue known by?

African Rue, Alharma, Gamarza, Harmalkraute, Harmel, Harmelbuske, Peganum harmala, Rue Savage, Steppenraute, Wild Rue.

What is Syrian Rue?

Syrian rue is a plant that grows in parts of the United States, Asia, Africa, and Europe. The seeds of the plant can cause hallucinations and have stimulant effects when taken by mouth.

People take Syrian rue by mouth to terminate pregnancy and for the absence of a monthly menstrual period, cancer, depression, diabetes, painful menstruation, hypothermia, insomnia, pain, parasites, Parkinson's disease, and a joint disorder called rheumatoid arthritis.

People apply Syrian rue to the skin for hair loss, dandruff, eczema, hemorrhoids, and scaly, itchy skin (psoriasis).

In manufacturing, the Syrian rue seeds are used to produce a red dye to color rugs.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

More evidence is needed to rate Syrian rue for these uses.

How does Syrian Rue work?

The Syrian rue seed contains chemicals called beta-carbonlines. These chemicals cause many different effects in the body, including stimulant effects and hallucinations. However, these constituents also seem to have effects that are similar to certain medicines used to treat Alzheimer's disease.

Are there safety concerns?

Syrian rue is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in low doses. Taking 3-4 grams of Syrian rue seeds can cause hallucinations and stimulant effects.

Syrian rue is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in high doses. Serious side effects affecting the nervous system, heart, liver, and kidneys, as well as death, have been reported in people who consumed high amounts of Syrian rue seeds.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Syrian rue is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Syrian rue can make a pregnant woman go into labor. Avoid use.

Slow heart rate and heart disease: Syrian rue contains the chemicals harmaline and harmine. These chemicals might cause complications in people who have a slow heart rate or heart disease. People with these conditions should avoid taking Syrian rue.

Blockage in the stomach: Syrian rue contains the chemicals harmaline and harmine. These chemicals might cause complications in people who have a blockage in the stomach. People with this condition should avoid taking Syrian rue.

Liver disease: Liver damage has occurred in people who have taken Syrian rue. People with liver diseases, including hepatitis, should avoid taking Syrian rue.

Stomach ulcers: Syrian rue contains the chemicals harmaline and harmine. These chemicals might cause complications in people who have stomach ulcers. People with stomach ulcers should avoid taking Syrian rue.

Lung conditions: Syrian rue contains the chemicals harmaline and harmine. These chemicals might cause complications in people who have lung conditions, including asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). People with lung conditions should avoid taking Syrian rue.

Seizures: Syrian rue contains the chemicals harmaline and harmine. These chemicals might cause complications in people who have seizures. People with seizures should avoid taking Syrian rue.

Surgery: Syrian rue can affect levels of serotonin in the brain. In theory, Syrian rue might interfere with surgical procedures. Discontinue Syrian rue use at least 2 weeks before a planned surgery.

Blockage in the urinary tract: Syrian rue contains the chemicals harmaline and harmine. These chemicals might cause complications in people who have a blockage in the urinary track. People with this condition should avoid taking Syrian rue.

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Are there any interactions with medications?


Medications for depression (Antidepressant drugs)Interaction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.

Syrian rue might increase a brain chemical called serotonin. Some medications for depression also increase serotonin. Taking Syrian rue along with medications for depression might increase serotonin too much and cause serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety. Do not take Syrian rue if you are taking medications for depression.

Some of these medications for depression include fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), amitriptyline (Elavil), clomipramine (Anafranil), imipramine (Tofranil), and others.


CaffeineInteraction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Syrian rue contains a chemical called harmaline. Taking caffeine with harmaline might cause tremors.


Citalopram (Celexa)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Syrian rue contains a chemical called harmaline. Taking citalopram with harmaline might cause tremors.


Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, and others)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Syrian rue can affect a brain chemical called serotonin. Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, others) can also affect serotonin. In theory, taking Syrian rue along with dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, others) might cause too much serotonin in the brain and can result in serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety.


Drying medications (Anticholinergic drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Syrian rue contains chemicals that can affect the brain and heart. Some drying medications called anticholinergic drugs can also affect the brain and heart. In theory, taking drying medications with Syrian rue might decrease the effectiveness of Syrian rue or the medication.

Some of these drying medications include atropine, benztropine (Cogentin), biperiden (Akineton), procyclidine (Kemadrin), and trihexyphenidyl (Artane).


Imipramine (Tofranil)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Syrian rue contains a chemical called harmaline. Taking imipramine with harmaline might cause tremors.


Medications changed by the body (Cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) substrates)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. In theory, Syrian rue might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking Syrian rue along with some medications that are changed by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of your medication. Before taking Syrian rue, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications that are changed by the body include amitriptyline (Elavil), clozapine (Clozaril), codeine, desipramine (Norpramin), donepezil (Aricept), fentanyl (Duragesic), flecainide (Tambocor), fluoxetine (Prozac), meperidine (Demerol), methadone (Dolophine), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), olanzapine (Zyprexa), ondansetron (Zofran), tramadol (Ultram), trazodone (Desyrel), and others.


Medications changed by the body (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. In theory, taking Syrian rue might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking Syrian rue and taking some medications that are broken down by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking Syrian rue, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications changed by the body include lovastatin (Mevacor), clarithromycin (Biaxin), indinavir (Crixivan), sildenafil (Viagra), triazolam (Halcion), and numerous others.


Medications for Alzheimer's disease (Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Syrian rue contains a chemical that affects the brain. Medications for Alzheimer's disease also affect the brain. In theory, taking Syrian rue along with medications for Alzheimer's disease might increase effects and side effects of medications for Alzheimer's disease.

Some of these medications include bethanechol (Urecholine), donepezil (Aricept), echothiophate (Phospholine Iodide), edrophonium (Enlon, Reversol, Tensilon), neostigmine (Prostigmin), physostigmine (Antilirium), pyridostigmine (Mestinon, Regonol), succinylcholine (Anectine, Quelicin), and tacrine (Cognex).


Medications for depression (MAOIs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Syrian rue can increase a chemical in the brain called serotonin. Some medications used for depression also increase serotonin. In theory, taking Syrian rue with these medications used for depression might cause there to be too much serotonin. This could cause serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety.

Some of these medications used for depression include rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Deprenyl, Eldepryl, Emsam), isocarboxazid (Marplan), nialamide (Niamid), phenelzine (Nardil, Nardelzine), and tranylcypromine (Parnate, Jatrosom).


Medications that can harm the liver (Hepatotoxic drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

There is concern that Syrian rue might harm the liver. In theory, taking Syrian rue along with medication that might also harm the liver can increase the risk of liver damage.

Some medications that can harm the liver include acarbose (Precose, Prandase), amiodarone (Cordarone), atorvastatin (Lipitor), azathioprine (Imuran), carbamazepine (Tegretol), cerivastatin (Baycol), diclofenac (Voltaren), felbamate (Felbatol), fenofibrate (Tricor), fluvastatin (Lescol), gemfibrozil (Lopid), isoniazid, itraconazole, (Sporanox), ketoconazole (Nizoral), leflunomide (Arava), lovastatin (Mevacor), methotrexate (Rheumatrex), nevirapine (Viramune), niacin, nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin), pioglitazone (Actos), pravastatin (Pravachol), pyrazinamide, rifampin (Rifadin), ritonavir (Norvir), rosiglitazone (Avandia), simvastatin (Zocor), tacrine (Cognex), tamoxifen, terbinafine (Lamisil), valproic acid, and zileuton (Zyflo).


Medications used for Parkinson's disease (Dopamine agonists)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Syrian rue contains chemicals that can affect the brain. These chemicals affect the brain similarly to some medications used for Parkinson's disease. In theory, taking Syrian rue with these medications might increase the effects and side effects of some medications used for Parkinson's disease.

Some medications used for Parkinson's disease include bromocriptine (Parlodel), levodopa (Dopar, component of Sinemet), pramipexole (Mirapex), ropinirole (Requip), and others.


Meperidine (Demerol)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Syrian rue can increase a chemical in the brain called serotonin. Meperidine (Demerol) can also increase serotonin in the brain. In theory, taking Syrian rue along with meperidine (Demerol) might cause too much serotonin in the brain and serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety.


Pentazocine (Talwin)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Syrian rue can increase a brain chemical called serotonin. Pentazocine (Talwin) also increases serotonin. In theory, taking Syrian rue along with pentazocine (Talwin) might increase serotonin too much. This might cause serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety.


Tramadol (Ultram)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Syrian rue can increase a brain chemical called serotonin. Tramadol (Ultram) can also increase serotonin. In theory, taking Syrian rue along with tramadol (Ultram) might cause too much serotonin in the brain and might result in side effects including confusion, shivering, stiff muscles, and others.


Various medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions (Cholinergic drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Syrian rue contains a chemical that affects the body. This chemical is similar to some medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease and other conditions. In theory, taking Syrian rue with these medications might increase the chance of side effects.

Some of these medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions include bethanechol (Urecholine), donepezil (Aricept), echothiophate (Phospholine Iodide), edrophonium (Enlon, Reversol, Tensilon), neostigmine (Prostigmin), physostigmine (Antilirium), pyridostigmine (Mestinon, Regonol), succinylcholine (Anectine, Quelicin), and tacrine (Cognex).

Dosing considerations for Syrian Rue.

The appropriate dose of Syrian rue depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for Syrian rue (in children/in adults). Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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Reviewed on 9/17/2019
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Hilber, P. and Chapillon, P. Effects of harmaline on anxiety-related behavior in mice. Physiol Behav 2005;86(1-2):164-167. View abstract.

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Hu, T., Fan, B., Liang, J., Zhao, S., Dang, P., Gao, F., and Dong, M. Observations on the treatment of natural haemosporidia infections by total alkaloid of Peganum harmala L. in cattle. Trop Anim Health Prod 1997;29(4 Suppl):72S-76S. View abstract.

Ishida, J., Wang, H. K., Bastow, K. F., Hu, C. Q., and Lee, K. H. Antitumor agents 201. Cytotoxicity of harmine and beta-carboline analogs. Bioorg Med Chem Lett 1999;9(23):3319-3324. View abstract.

Iurlo, M., Leone, G., Schilstrom, B., Linner, L., Nomikos, G., Hertel, P., Silvestrini, B., and Svensson, H. Effects of harmine on dopamine output and metabolism in rat striatum: role of monoamine oxidase-A inhibition. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2001;159(1):98-104. View abstract.

Iven, H. and Zetler, G. The effects of harmine on the transmembrane action potentials of guinea-pig left atria as compared to those of quinidine. Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol 1974;283(2):181-189. View abstract.

Javoy, F., Euvrard, C., Herbet, A., Bockaert, J., Enjalbert, A., Agid, Y., and Glowinski, J. Lack of involvement of dopaminergic and GABA neurones in the inhbitory effect of harmaline on the activity of striatal cholinergic neurones in the rat. Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol 1977;297(3):233-239. View abstract.

Javoy, F., Euvrard, C., Herbet, A., Bockaert, J., Enjalbert, A., Agid, Y., and Glowinski, J. Lack of involvement of dopaminergic and GABA neurones in the inhbitory effect of harmaline on the activity of striatal cholinergic neurones in the rat. Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol 1977;297(3):233-239. View abstract.

Jimenez, J., Riveron-Negrete, L., Abdullaev, F., Espinosa-Aguirre, J., and Rodriguez-Arnaiz, R. Cytotoxicity of the beta-carboline alkaloids harmine and harmaline in human cell assays in vitro. Exp Toxicol Pathol 2008;60(4-5):381-389. View abstract.

Jin, Y. J. [Effects of harmaline and fluorouracil (5-FU) on human retinoblastoma cell line SO-Rb 50]. Zhonghua Yan Ke Za Zhi 1990;26(5):286-288. View abstract.

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Khan, A. M., Abbas, G., Qureshi, R. A., Khan, U., Ghufran, M. A., and Stoeckli-Evans, H. 3-Hydr-oxy-1,2,3,9-tetra-hydro-pyrrolo[2,1-b]quinazolin-4-ium chloride dihydrate: (+)-vasicinol hydro-chloride dihydrate from Peganum harmala L. Acta Crystallogr Sect E Struct Rep Online 2009;65(Pt 3):o474-o475. View abstract.

Kim, D. H., Jang, Y. Y., Han, E. S., and Lee, C. S. Protective effect of harmaline and harmalol against dopamine- and 6-hydroxydopamine-induced oxidative damage of brain mitochondria and synaptosomes, and viability loss of PC12 cells. Eur J Neurosci 2001;13(10):1861-1872. View abstract.

Kolasiewicz, W., Kuter, K., Nowak, P., Pastuszka, A., and Ossowska, K. Lesion of the cerebellar noradrenergic innervation enhances the harmaline-induced tremor in rats. Cerebellum 2011;10(2):267-280. View abstract.

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Lamchouri, F., Settaf, A., Cherrah, Y., Zemzami, M., Lyoussi, B., Zaid, A., Atif, N., and Hassar, M. Antitumour principles from Peganum harmala seeds. Therapie 1999;54(6):753-758. View abstract.

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Lee, C. S., Han, E. S., Jang, Y. Y., Han, J. H., Ha, H. W., and Kim, D. E. Protective effect of harmalol and harmaline on MPTP neurotoxicity in the mouse and dopamine-induced damage of brain mitochondria and PC12 cells. J Neurochem 2000;75(2):521-531. View abstract.

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Li, Y., Sattler, R., Yang, E. J., Nunes, A., Ayukawa, Y., Akhtar, S., Ji, G., Zhang, P. W., and Rothstein, J. D. Harmine, a natural beta-carboline alkaloid, upregulates astroglial glutamate transporter expression. Neuropharmacology 2011;60(7-8):1168-1175. View abstract.

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Ma, Y. and Wink, M. The beta-carboline alkaloid harmine inhibits BCRP and can reverse resistance to the anticancer drugs mitoxantrone and camptothecin in breast cancer cells. Phytother Res 2010;24(1):146-149. View abstract.

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Marchetti, E., Gauthier, G. M., and Pellet, J. Cerebellar control of eye movements studied with injection of harmaline in the trained baboon. Arch Ital Biol 1983;121(1):1-17. View abstract.

Mehta, H., Saravanan, K. S., and Mohanakumar, K. P. Serotonin synthesis inhibition in olivo-cerebellar system attenuates harmaline-induced tremor in Swiss albino mice. Behav Brain Res 2003;145(1-2):31-36. View abstract.

Meignin, C., Hilber, P., and Caston, J. Influence of stimulation of the olivocerebellar pathway by harmaline on spatial learning in the rat. Brain Res 1999;824(2):277-283. View abstract.

Mendelson, S. D. and Gorzalka, B. B. Harmine reverses the inhibition of lordosis by the 5-HT2 antagonists pirenperone and ketanserin in the female rat. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1986;25(1):111-115. View abstract.

Meneguz, A., Betto, P., and Ricciarello, G. Different effects of harmine on plasma concentrations of L-dopa and on cerebral dopamine metabolism in rabbits and rats. Pharmacology 1994;48(6):360-366. View abstract.

Milasin, J., Buffo, A., Carulli, D., Andjus, P., and Strata, P. MAPK activation in cerebellar basket cell terminals after harmaline treatment. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2005;1048:411-417. View abstract.

Mirzaei, M. Treatment of natural tropical theileriosis with the extract of the plant Peganum harmala. Korean J Parasitol 2007;45(4):267-271. View abstract.

Mirzaiedehaghi, M. Treatment of natural ovine malignant theileriosis with a chloroform extract of the plant Peganum harmala. Onderstepoort J Vet Res 2006;73(2):153-155. View abstract.

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Morcuende, S., Trigo, J. A., Delgado-Garcia, J. M., and Gruart, A. Harmaline induces different motor effects on facial vs. skeletal-motor systems in alert cats. Neurotox Res 2001;3(6):527-535. View abstract.

Moroi, K., Takashi, K., and Kuga, T. Involvement of GABAergic systems and benzodiazepine receptors in the jumping behavior induced by harmine and apomorphine in rats. Jpn J Pharmacol 1988;47(4):367-378. View abstract.

Movafeghi, A., Abedini, M., Fathiazad, F., Aliasgharpour, M., and Omidi, Y. Floral nectar composition of Peganum harmala L. Nat Prod Res 2009;23(3):301-308. View abstract.

Nagpal, J. P., Wali, R. K., Singh, R., Farooqui, S., Majumdar, S., and Mahmood, A. Inhibition of D-glucose uptake by isatin in rat intestine: effect of harmaline and various sulfhydryl reagents. Biochem Med 1985;34(2):207-213. View abstract.

Nakagawa, Y., Suzuki, T., Ishii, H., Ogata, A., and Nakae, D. Mitochondrial dysfunction and biotransformation of β-carboline alkaloids, harmine and harmaline, on isolated rat hepatocytes. Chem Biol Interact 2010;188(3):393-403. View abstract.

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O'Hearn, E. and Molliver, M. E. Degeneration of Purkinje cells in parasagittal zones of the cerebellar vermis after treatment with ibogaine or harmaline. Neuroscience 1993;55(2):303-310. View abstract.

Park, S. Y., Kim, Y. H., Kim, Y. H., Park, G., and Lee, S. J. Beta-carboline alkaloids harmaline and harmalol induce melanogenesis through p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase in B16F10 mouse melanoma cells. BMB Rep 2010;43(12):824-829. View abstract.

Pellet, J., Weiss, M., and Gourdon, M. J. Harmaline effects on the sensory-motor reactivity: modifications of the acoustic startle pattern. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1983;19(3):527-534. View abstract.

Peterlik, M. [Experimental cholestasis by dibucaine and harmaline: effects on bile flow and hepatic transport of bile acids, ethacrynic acid and ouabain (author's transl)]. Wien Klin Wochenschr 1977;89(14):494-501. View abstract.

Pinner, E., Padan, E., and Schuldiner, S. Amiloride and harmaline are potent inhibitors of NhaB, a Na+/H+ antiporter from Escherichia coli. FEBS Lett 1995;365(1):18-22. View abstract.

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Rehman, J. U., Wang, X. G., Johnson, M. W., Daane, K. M., Jilani, G., Khan, M. A., and Zalom, F. G. Effects of Peganum harmala (Zygophyllaceae) seed extract on the olive fruit fly (Diptera: Tephritidae) and its larval parasitoid Psyttalia concolor (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). J Econ Entomol 2009;102(6):2233-2240. View abstract.

Reus, G. Z., Stringari, R. B., de Souza B., Petronilho, F., Dal-Pizzol, F., Hallak, J. E., Zuardi, A. W., Crippa, J. A., and Quevedo, J. Harmine and imipramine promote antioxidant activities in prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. Oxid Med Cell Longev 2010;3(5):325-331. View abstract.

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Sacher, J., Houle, S., Parkes, J., Rusjan, P., Sagrati, S., Wilson, A. A., and Meyer, J. H. Monoamine oxidase A inhibitor occupancy during treatment of major depressive episodes with moclobemide or St. John's wort: an [11C]-harmine PET study. J Psychiatry Neurosci 2011;36(6):375-382. View abstract.

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Sepulveda, F. V., Buclon, M., and Robinson, J. W. Differential effects of harmaline and ouabain on intestinal sodium, phenylalanine and beta-methyl-glucoside transport. Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol 1976;295(3):231-236. View abstract.

Shahverdi, A. R., Monsef-Esfahani, H. R., Nickavar, B., Bitarafan, L., Khodaee, S., and Khoshakhlagh, N. Antimicrobial activity and main chemical composition of two smoke condensates from Peganum harmala seeds. Z Naturforsch C 2005;60(9-10):707-710. View abstract.

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Shin, Y. K., Sohn, U. D., Choi, M. S., Kum, C., Sim, S. S., and Lee, M. Y. Effects of rutin and harmaline on rat reflux oesophagitis. Auton Autacoid Pharmacol 2002;22(1):47-55. View abstract.

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Sokolove, P. G. and Roth, S. H. Effect of harmaline on the crayfish stretch receptor: blockade at a GABA-mediated inhibitory synapse. Neuropharmacology 1978;17(9):729-735. View abstract.

Soliman, A. M. and Fahmy, S. R. Protective and curative effects of the 15 KD isolated protein from the Peganum harmala L. seeds against carbon tetrachloride induced oxidative stress in brain, tests and erythrocytes of rats. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci 2011;15(8):888-899. View abstract.

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Suleiman, M. S. and Hider, R. C. The influence of harmaline on the movements of sodium ions in smooth muscle of the guinea pig ileum. Mol Cell Biochem 1985;67(2):145-150. View abstract.

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Welsh, J. P. Systemic harmaline blocks associative and motor learning by the actions of the inferior olive. Eur J Neurosci 1998;10(11):3307-3320. View abstract.

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Wu, M., Li, H., Li, S., and Pan, S. Effect of liposome-encapsulated total alkaloid of harmaline on rabbit lens epithelial cells: experimental study on the prevention of posterior capsule opacification. Yan Ke Xue Bao 1999;15(1):55-60. View abstract.

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