Blog, Persian Life Style



In this article, we are going about a magic substance called “Espand” (اسپند). This word has different Pronunciations and dictation such as Aspand, Esfand, Esphand, and Sepand. Expand is dried seeds of a perennial herbaceous plant with a white flower on top named Peganuma Harmala. This plant comes from Nitrariaceae`s family. It usually grows up in saline solids in the hot temperature of dessert and Mediterranean regions. The people consider it a noxious weed and invasive species in some countries, especially in the western United States. But in some other countries such as Middle Eastern and North Africa, they use it in folk medicine due to its hallucinogenic value of alkaloids. Its seeds include; thus, they sometimes sell it for recreational drug use in the West. It is well-known as wild Rue and Syrian Rue due to its resemblance to rue family plants.

The plant has numerous erect to spreading stems with branches in a corymbose fashion with alternate sessile leaves that grow in the spring. It blossoms between June and August months. It also includes white flower and round seed capsules that contain three chambers carrying more than 60 seeds.

Traditional use of Espand

In many countries such as Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Uzbekistan, and Iran, they call the dried capsules of Harmal “espand.” But the people of turkey call it “Yuzerlik” and “Uerlik.” Since there is the belief in the curse existence in every culture and religion, so they make it strung and hung at home and vehicles due to their belief that it protects them against “the evil eye.” The term “eye evil” refers to being the victim of a curse on other people`s behalf. Its translation to the Persian language is “Cheshm Kordan” or “Cheshm Zakhm” which exactly means “to be stuck by eye” in English. Another phrase that they use to declare it is “Cheshme Shor” which means “salty eye.”

They believe that when they achieve success or buy a new pricy thing or even a good event such as marrying their child, the people with eye evil can bestow and curse them, and a bad event comes up for them or they lose that achievement and new pricy thing. So they tend to be secretive and refrain from sharing their life out of fear of the eye evil. So they use and burn Espand to fight against the eye evil. Of course, Persian people are very superstitious. They believe in the “Cheshm Zakhm,” firmly. They have so many ways to protect themselves against it, such as knocking on wood, knocking on their head, throwing salt back, scratching their back, wearing anti-evil eye accessories, and so on. One of the most important and oldest ones is burning Espand.

How to burn Espand to fight against eye evil?

To burn Espand in Persian ritual, you need a spoon of Espand`s seeds and a piece of equipment. This equipment is a container made of metallic. You can make several holes in the bottom of the container. It looks like a basket, and it also has a long handle. First of all, you need to put your container on the flam of a stove or place it on the hot charcoal and wait until it gets hot enough. Then you should scoop some Espand seeds into the container and let them burn. When they are burning, you can hear them explode with the sound of popping noise. As they are exploding, the fragrant smoke comes out and rises from the seeds.

As the smoke rises, you have to circle the container around your head and those exposed to and afflicted by people with the eye evil and let the smoke lingers in the air of the house. As circling the container and smokes keep floating in the air, you can say a prayer to clean and remove all evil eyes from you, your family, and your home. The pray is as follow and its translation in front of it:

  • Esfand o Esfand doone Esfand and Esfand seeds
  • Esfand si o se doone thirty-three seeds
  • Betarake Cheshem eyes of means, eyes of the enemy, eyes of none, eyes of the jealous one
  • Bakhil, Hasood, o Bigane Burn in this cracking fire


Finely the burning seeds got cold; they rub it on their forehead as a part of this ritual. They sometimes mix Espand with other ingredients, including angelica, green leaves, salt, Migella, and alum that make it colorful and away from all bad energies. They call this mixture “Atel o Batel.”

Medicinal use

In addition to the traditional use of this plant`s seeds, it has medicinal usage too. They use it as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent.

In some countries, medicines use it to treat depression. Scientists have established that the harmaline properties of Peganum Harmala are active ingredients that can stimulate the nervous system and act as a reversible inhibitor of MAO-A. So they categorize it as an antidepressant. Peganum Harmala has also include antibacterial activity against drug-resistant bacteria.

The smoke that rises as burning the seeds can kill algae, bacteria, intestinal, parasites, and molds. These plant roots are worthy, too. Applying the roots can kill the lice, and burning them can kill insects. The roots can also inhibit the Tribolium Castaneum beetle`s reproduction.

They use it as an anthelmintic to expel parasitic worms. Our ancient use its powder to reduce the fevers and to remove the tapeworms. Also, It is an abortifacient that is used to reduce spermatogenesis and male fertility in rats. There are so many other benefits for Peganum Harmala. But we shorten the speech and finish this article. We appreciate you for being with us in this article.

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