Beta-Carboline, Norharman

Norharmane is the parent compound of the ß-carboline family (it’s also known as ß-carboline). It is one of several ß-carboline compounds recently isolated as a metabolite in some species of psychedelic mushrooms.1 ß-carboline is produced naturally in the human body and has also been isolated from meat, fish, alcoholic drinks, coffee, and tobacco smoke (summarized in Pfau and Skog 2004).2

Norharmane isolated from coffee was shown to inhibit monoamine oxidase (MAO) enzymes (MAO), specifically, MAO-A and MAO-B.3 Also, norharman has been shown to possibly play a role in Parkinson’s disease, although the mechanism is not understood.4

  1. Blei F, Dörner S, Fricke J, et al. Simultaneous Production of Psilocybin and a Cocktail of β-Carboline Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors in “Magic” Mushrooms. Chemistry – A European Journal. 2019. doi:10.1002/chem.201904363
  2. Herraiz T, Chaparro C. Human monoamine oxidase enzyme inhibition by coffee and β-carbolines norharman and harman isolated from coffee. Life Sciences. 2006;78(8):795-802. doi:10.1016/j.lfs.2005.05.074
  3. Kuhn W, Müller T, Große H, Dierks T, Rommelspacher H. Plasma levels of the β-carbolines harman and norharman in Parkinson’s disease. Acta Neurologica Scandinavica. 1995;92(6):451-454. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0404.1995.tb00479.x