Frontiers in Natural Product Chemistry

Volume: 9

Overview of Traditional Uses, Phytochemistry and Pharmacology of Peganum Harmala L.

Author(s): Akshita Sharma, Ajay Sharma*, Sharmila Wahengbam, Raymond Cooper, Hardev Singh and Garima Bhardwaj *

Pp: 95-124 (30)

Doi: 10.2174/9789815040586122090007

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


Mother Nature acts as a source of a variety of therapeutically important
plants that have been used directly or indirectly for the wellbeing of the human race. In
addition, these plants have also been well known for their applications, especially in
agriculture, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, aroma, food flavors, and food preservatives.
These therapeutically important plants are also used by local and tribal peoples as a
remedy to cure various infectious illnesses since the dawn of civilization. These
medicinal plants serve as a source of eco-friendly drugs that are potentially less toxic as
compared to a variety of synthetic drugs. Peganum harmala L. belongs to the genus
Peganum and the recently separated family Nitrariaceae and is now officially included
in the family Zygophyllaceae. The plant grows primarily in dehydrated and amorphous
conditions, mostly in Africa, Iraq, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russia, China, Afghanistan,
Pakistan, and India. The genus Peganum comprises six species and P. harmala L. is the
most explored plant of the genus. The plant is widely known for its pharmacological
potential such as antiviral, antibacterial, anticancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory,
antidepressant and anti-diabetic, etc. The wide range of applications of the plant can be
attributed to its secondary metabolite composition consisting of alkaloids, flavonoids,
triterpenoids, anthraquinones, volatile oils, and dietary components (proteins, fatty
acids, vitamins, and minerals). Harmalol and harmine are two key beta-carbolines,
which are isolated from different parts of the plant and are mainly responsible for the
diverse array of pharmacological potential of the plant. Owing to this, these betacarbolines
serve as an active ingredient for the production of different drugs, which are
used to treat various illnesses viz. common cold, diarrhea, ulcer, arthritis, asthenia,
depression, and dermatologic problems related to hair and skin. These are also effective
against Parkinson’s disorder and various cancers. Furthermore, different parts of P.
harmala L. also act as a source of various macro and micro minerals, which are
essential for the smooth functioning of the human body. The aim of the present chapter is to
summarize the various traditional uses, pharmacological properties and phytochemistry
of P. harmala L.

Keywords: Alkaloids, Anthraquinones, Beta-carboline, Flavonoids, Peganum harmala L., Pharmacology, Secondary metabolites, Traditional uses.

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