The harmala alkaloids are psychoactive and function as short-acting reversible inhibitors of MAO-A.
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The seeds of Peganum harmala contain several alkaloids, mainly the harmala alkaloids harmine and harmaline. Other beta-carbolines are harmalol, harmane, harmidine, dihydro harmaline, isoharmine, tetrahydroharmine, tetrahydroharmaline, tetrahydroharmol, and norharmine.
Harmine, harmaline and tetrahydroharmine also occur in the ayahuasca vine Banisteriopsis caapi. The concentration is slightly higher in Syrian rue: approximately 2-7% of the dry weight of mature seeds.
The harmala alkaloids are psychoactive and function as short-acting reversible inhibitors of MAO-A. This means they suppress the excretion of the endogenous enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO). This enzyme normally metabolizes certain endogenous neurotransmitters like serotonin, as well as foreign toxins (like tyramines in food) and tryptamines. When the enzyme is blocked, substances like N, N-DMT and 5-MeO-DMT become orally effective. The effect of others substances like mescaline, LSD and psilocybin is potentiated.