African Rue, Alharma, Gamarza, Harmalkraute, Harmel, Harmelbuske, Peganum harmala, Rue Savage, Steppenraute, Wild 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.
How does it 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.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- Pregnancy termination.
- Absence of a monthly menstrual period (amenorrhea).
- Painful menstruation.
- Parkinson's disease.
- Joint disorder (rheumatoid arthritis).
- Other conditions.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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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.
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