Background: Peganum harmala is a medicinal plant used in Iran and other countries. Many therapeutic effects have been described for this plant; it is insect repellant, disinfectant, antimicrobial, sedative, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, emetic, and abortifacient. Roots and seeds are medicinally-active parts of the plant containing some β-carboline and quinazoline alkaloids, which are responsible for its pharmacological and toxicological effects. Poisoning with high doses of Peganum harmala can be life-threatening.
Case Report: We reported a 31-year old woman with an unwanted pregnancy, who ingested 1 glass of Peganum harmala seeds to induce abortion. On admission, she had severe nausea and vomiting, mild abdominal pain, and stable vital signs. Physical examination was unremarkable, and the leukocytosis was the only abnormal laboratory finding. The patient underwent nasogastric tube insertion, gastric lavage, as well as the administration of activated charcoal. Although she left the hospital on self-consent, further follow-up revealed that she had a spontaneous abortion without any complications.
Conclusion: Although most cases of Peganum harmala intoxication can be managed successfully, this poisoning led to abortion in our case. Physicians working in Iran and other regions, where Peganum harmala is used as traditional medicine, must be aware of its toxicity for the early diagnosis and management.
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