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Medicinal, culinary and unusual botanicals from Australia and around the world

Coloured Esfand (Peganum harmala) 50g

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The practice of burning esfand seeds to avert the evil eye is widely attested in early classical Persian literature. This practice may have been influenced by the association of esfand with haoma, the sacred beverage of Zoroastrian lore.

Folk medicine practices reflect a classical belief in the medical properties of esfand, while attributing a number of magico-medical properties to it. It is considered to be a divinely favoured plant which can cure seventy-two varieties of ailments the least severe of which is leprosy. Furthermore, the smoke from its burning seeds is believed to ward off harm from persons or places that are exposed to its smoke. Thus esfand is burned at potentially harmful moments such as during circumcision ceremonies or for the protection of the woman in childbed. The burning of the seeds is accompanied by the recitation of a magical formula.

Evidently esfand seeds were also used to produce an invisible ink. The process involved pounding the seeds before soaking them in water for two days. The juice thereafter functioned as an invisible ink when written on paper. In order to read it, the paper is brought close to a flame and the heat make the writing visible. Taken from iranicaonline.

Peganum harmala seeds contain beta-carboline alkaloids (harmaline, harmine), the smoke from the seeds kills algae, bacteria, intestinal parasites and moulds. Peganum harmala has antibacterial activity, including against drug-resistant bacteria.

50g coloured esfand

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