Isolation of Harmine and Harmaline

Nan's Nook : Archives : Botanicals : Peganum harmala

O.K., for all the poor souls who had to ingest those horrible seeds, here is an extraction than I think anyone on this newsgroup can do in their kitchen without blowing themselves up.

From "The Alkaloids" Vol. II by Manske (p393). Printed without permission.


"The crushed seeds of Peganum Harmala are covered with three times their weight of water containing 30 g of acetic acid per liter of water [white vinegar is about 50g / l or 5 %]. The seeds swell as they absorb the liquid and form a thick dough which is pressed after 2-3 days. The pressed seeds are once more treated as above with twice their weight of dilute acetic acid and, after maceration, the liquid is again pressed out. To the combined liquors, sodium chloride [that's table salt, man] (100g. / liter of liquid) is added to transform the acetates of harmine and harmaline into the hydrochlorides which are insoluble in cold sodium chloride solutions and are precipitated during cooling. The supernatant liquid is siphoned off, the crystalline residue filtered with suction and redissolved in hot water. Addition of sodium chloride to the filtered solution causes the precipitation of the hydrochlorides as a crystalline mush and this process is repeated until the hydrochlorides have acquired a yellow color (for the purposes of this newsgroup, once is enough). The final product is then recovered by filtration."

The paper then goes on to describe the separation of harmine from harmaline, but this procedure is slightly more complicated and not necessary for most purposes.

Pierre St Hilaire
MIT Media Lab

P.S. While this procedure is legal in the U.S. (where harmine and harmaline are currently unscheduled), it is illegal in Canada where harmine and harmaline are Schedule I.

These are extremely potent alkaloids. Misuse of them can result in serious, even fatal, consequences. Read the FAQ about MAO inhibitors.

Also See: Lab/Extraction InfoShroom Glossary