Hermal, also known as wild rue or Syrian rue, is a bushy herb with leaves divided into numerous narrow segments. It has white solitary flowers, capsular, spherical fruits and brownish seeds in various shapes. The dried seeds of the plant constitute the drug. The trade name is based on the local Indian name of the herb.
The seeds contain four alkaloids, harmine, harmaline, harmolol and peganine. The blossoms and stems yield alkaloid peganine identified with 1-peganine.
The drug stimulates motor tracts of cerebrum and the central nervous system. In indigenous medicine, the herb is considered useful in restoring the disordered nutrition process besides as a purifier and aphrodisiac. Experiments have confirmed the bactericIdal action of the drug.
Hermal is beneficial in the treatment of remittent and intermittent fevers. It is useful in chronic malaria but is not so effective in acute cases. The seeds are given either as an infusion, decoction or in powder form.
The drug is useful in asthma. The powder of the seeds given in doses of 2 to 8 grams, provides relief.
Hermal seeds are effective in treating tapeworm infestation. The alkaloid hermaline has been found to have anthelmintk action. The powder of its seeds should be given for expelling worms. The herb as such has narcotic properties and can be used to induce deep sleep in cases of insomnia.
he herb is beneficial in painful and difficult menstruation and for regulating the menstrual periods. A decoction of the seeds is given in 15 to 30 ml doses.
Hermal seeds are gatactogogue, that is, an agent which stimulates the secretion of breast milk or increases milk flow in nursing mothers.
The drug is beneficial in the treatment of laryngitis, that is, inflammation of the larynx. A decoction of the seeds is used as a mouthwash.
Hermal is useful in killing head lice. A paste of the roots made with mustard oil should be applied externally.
Precautions: The drug should be used only in the prescribed doses. In higher doses, it may prove poisonous and bring about severe depressant action on the nervous system.