3.2.17 Syrian Rue

Syrian Rue #

Binomial / Botanical Name Peganum Harmala
Street Names Esfand; Aspand; Harmel
Major Active Compound Misc (Incl Harmaline and Harmine)
Indigenous Source India, Pakistan, S Asia, Middle East
Form Seeds
RoA Oral
Personal Rating On Shulgin Scale ++


Often used as a component of ayahuasca analogues, Syrian rue is an MAOI which induces psychedelic effects in its own right. Its seeds have been in continual use in rites and ceremonies across various cultures for thousands of years, and indeed, it has been cited as a possible ingredient of the legendry Vedic brew, soma.

Online, a number of different preparations are suggested, usually involving boiling in acidified water (for example, water with lemon juice). However, whilst it does seem to be generally agreed that this reduces instances of nausea, I found there to be a great deal of contradiction in terms of it diminishing or increasing psychoactive effectiveness.

As I was not able to reach a firm conclusion on this matter, I elected to consume the raw seeds, as documented by sources such as Azarius.com:

There are many ways to consume Syrian rue. The easiest way is to just chew upon the seeds. You have to hold them in your mouth for about two minutes, chew well and make sure they get in touch with your saliva as much as possible before you swallow them. Unfortunately, the taste is very bitter. It’s, therefore, more comfortable to grind the seeds (for example with a pester and mortar or in a coffee grinder).

Regarding dosage, 2g-5g is widely suggested across forums and websites alike, with 3g being most commonly proposed for a first time encounter. I decide to heed this advice, which by most accounts will be effective but won’t blow me away.

Before proceeding I revisit my own research on the use of MAOIs generally, which is referred to in other parts of this book. Wider afield, on Syrian rue specific threads I notice that multiple sources cite aged cheese, various preservatives, red wine, and fermented foods as must-avoid examples. Exercising caution, I will maintain a very strict plain diet for at least 12 hours before and a day after ingestion.

NOTE: If in doubt on what foods and/or medicines to avoid it is worth consulting one of the many lists published on the Internet.

Regarding duration this is not particularly well documented, but I anticipate a ride lasting 5 hours or so, and an onset of about 45 minutes.

With all preparations completed, I am finally ready to go.

T+0.00 I carefully weigh my seeds and crush them mercilessly with mortar and pestle.

I now pour the resultant compound, which is more half-ground than powder, on to a large spoon and attempt to chew. This doesn’t last very long as it is dry and pretty unpleasant. After a few moments I swill everything down the hatch with fresh orange juice. [2:15pm]

T+0:15 I am beginning to notice a change in my body temperature, with the familiar hint of a pre-psychedelic headspace there or thereabouts.

T+0:30 There is certainly a drifting headiness in play and something is starting to happen to my vision: nothing intense but not placebo driven either.

T+1:00 The mild psychedelic aura is now unmistakeable, with a lazy visual tracing impression to accompany it when I turn my head.

I am mentally in a reasonable place, and physically I feel well, with no indication of nausea, other than perhaps a heavy stomach.

T+1:45 Somewhat disappointingly the ride appears to have stabilised. There is definitely an established presence, manifested largely through the headspace and that gentle hazy vision. Physically there is some warmth, accompanied by slightly cold and clammy hands. My mood is good and there are no real negatives thus far.

T+2:00 There are no fireworks, but I do feel content and mellow, with the misty mindset ebbing and flowing gently in the background. Pleasant it is, spectacular it isn’t.

T+3:00 Although I am still in the same zone, at this point I feel a little flatter. This is not uncomfortable; it is simply a sense that the main event is winding down. I eat a slice of toast and take in some fruit.

T+4:00 I am now heading back to base, wallowing amongst the dying embers of the trip. A dreamy sense of well-being is still present, but it hovers at a relatively low level

T+7:45 As expected, the effects faded during the previous hours and I retire to bed at about 10pm.

The night’s sleep was fairly standard, but I had a slightly off-key heady feel when I awoke in the morning: not a headache or anything uncomfortable, but something lurking there in the background.

Whilst this ride didn’t light any fires, it was nonetheless fairly decent. I was certainly playing in the shallow end but the vibe was a fairly positive one.

A fair assessment is that I hoped for more, but I got at least something. Were these limitations down to dosage, or the preparation, or the age of the seeds? Or was it simply that I now expect too much, due to other stronger psychedelic experiences? I suspect more of the latter, as I do know that Syrian rue has its enthusiasts, and not only as an MAOI.

On this note I will stress one final time the need for research and caution with respect to food, and anything else you may be tempted to indulge in when using these seeds. This is a powerful botanical, and must always be used with care and common sense.