Pill Identifier App

Broom

Scientific Name(s): Cytisus scoparius (L.) Link, sometimes referred to as Sarothamnus scoparius (L.) Wimm. Family: Fabaceae (beans)

Common Name(s): Bannal , besenginaterkraut (German), broom , broom top , ginsterkraut (German), herbe de genet a balais (French), herba genistac scopariae , herba spartii scoparii , hog weed , Irish broom top (English) 1 , sarothamni herb , scoparii cacumina (Latin); scotch broom , Scotch broom top (English). Scotch broom should not be confused with Spanish broom ( Spartium junceum ), which also is pharmacologically active. The related Cytisus laburnum (golden chain) contains the toxic alkaloid cytisine.

Uses

Extracts have been used for cathartic, diuretic, emetic, antiarrhythmic and labor-inducing effects. Tender plant tops have been used to flavor beer and increase its intoxicating effect. Leaves and aged flowers have been smoked to produce euphoria.

Dosing

There is no recent clinical evidence to guide dosage of broom. Classical use of broom involved dosage of 1 to 4 g of herb, equivalent to 30 mg of sparteine.

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Documented adverse effects (contains sparteine, a powerful oxytocic compound). Avoid use.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Smoking broom cigarettes may cause adverse cardiac effects such as headaches, uterine stimulant effects, and residual effects. Broom tea has tonus increasing properties, therefore it is contraindicated in pregnancy and hypertensive individuals.

Toxicology

The FDA considers broom an unsafe herb. Symptoms of toxicity suggest nicotine poisoning and are characterized by tachycardia with circulatory collapse, nausea, diarrhea, vertigo, and stupor.

Botany

Broom is native to central and southern Europe. It grows throughout the United States along the Eastern coastline and across the Pacific Northwest. The plant grows as a deciduous bush up to 1.8 m tall and possesses 5-sided, greenish, rod-like twigs with small leaves. On flowering, it show yellow, butterfly-like flowers that bloom from May to June. 1 It is often used as an outdoor ornamental to hold steep, barren banks in place. The crude drug is made up mostly of short fragments (2.5 to 5 cm) of the woody twigs. 1

History

In early American traditional medicine, a fluid extract of broom was used as a cathartic and diuretic. Large doses of the extract were used as an emetic. 2 An alkaloid derived from the plant (sparteine) was once used to induce labor and as an antiarrhythmic, but has now been abandoned for safer compounds.

The plant has been touted as a potential drug of abuse or “legal high.” In describing the preparation of the drug, some counter-culture magazines suggest that the flowers be collected and aged for about 10 days in a closed jar. 2 The moldy, dried blossoms are then pulverized, rolled in cigarette paper and smoked like marijuana.

Before the advent of hops, the tender green tops were used to impart bitterness and to increase the intoxicating effects of beer. In homeopathy, extracts of the plant are used for the management of arrhythmias, congestion of the head and throat, and occasionally for diphtheria. 3

Chemistry

The main alkaloid in the plant is l-sparteine found in the floral parts of the plant in concentrations ranging up to 0.22%, but may exceed 1.5% in other parts of the plant. In addition, the alkaloids sarothamnine, 4 genisteine, 4 lupanine 5 and oxysparteine 6 have been identified. A number of minor alkaloids and other componenets have also been isolated. 7 The flavone glycoside scoparoside has also been isolated, primarily from the flowers. Apparently, the toxic alkaloid cytisine is not present in this species. 8

The plant alkaloids are mainly found in the stem, but are also in the epidermis and sub-epidermis. Also present are flavonoids (spiraeoside, isoquercitin, genitoside, scoparoside) as well as other kaempferol and quercetin derivatives. Isoflavones such as sarothamnoside have also been reported. Broom also contains caffeic-acid derivatives and small amounts of essential oil. The seeds contain phytohaemagglutinins or lectins. 1 Fresh flower essential oils contain cis-3-hexan-l-ol, l-octen-3-ol, benzyl alcohol, phenethyl alcohol and various phenols and acids. 9

Uses and Pharmacology

Oxytocic

Sparteine is a powerful oxytocic drug once used to stimulate uterine contractions.

Antiarrhythmic

Sparteine slows the cardiac rate and shares some pharmacologic similarities with quinidine 10 and nicotine. 3 It also has antiarrhythmic effects. 11

Broom has long been used as a tea in Europe for improved regulation of the circulation. This activity is related to the alkaloidal content, particularly sparteine. It possesses an antiarrhythmic property, based on its ability to inhibit the transport of sodium ions across the cell membrane. The alkaloid reduces overstimulation of the system that conducts the nerve impulse. Hence, impulses arising in the auricle are normalized. Sparteine extends diastole, but does not show a positive inotropic effect. With low blood pressure, this property can lead to normalization.

Diuretic

Scoparoside is an active diuretic and may exert a pharmacologic effect if ingested in sufficient quantities.

Other uses

A number of lectins have been isolated from broom seeds and these are being used as pharmacologic probes. 12

Dosage

There is no recent clinical evidence to guide dosage of broom. Classical use of broom involved dosage of 1 to 4 g of herb, equivalent to 30 mg of sparteine.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Documented adverse effects (contains sparteine, a powerful oxytocic compound). Avoid use. 13 , 14

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Smoking broom cigarettes may pose a number of health hazards. These include adverse cardiac effects such as headaches, uterine stimulant effects and residual effects. The inhalation of moldy plant material cannot be recommended as this may be associated with the development of pulmonary aspergillosis or similar fungal infections.

Broom tea is contraindicated during pregnancy because it can increase the tonus of the gravid uterus. For similar reasons (tonus increasing properties), it is not recommended with hypertensive individuals. 1

Toxicology

Sparteine is an oily liquid that vaporizes readily when heated. Therefore, persons who smoke broom cigarettes may inhale significant amounts of the alkaloid. One such cigarette is said to produce a feeling of relaxation and euphoria lasting about 2 hours. However, some studies indicate that doses in excess of that which one would obtain by smoking the leaves would be needed to induce euphoria; the same studies concluded that “apparently this plant is not very toxic and the use of it as a 'legal high' probably would not precipitate a severe toxic episode.” 8

The FDA considers broom an unsafe herb. Symptoms of toxicity suggest nicotine poisoning and are characterized by tachycardia with circulatory collapse, nausea, diarrhea, vertigo and stupor. The seeds have been used as a coffee substitute, a dangerous and unwarranted practice. 3

Bibliography

1. Bisset NG, ed. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals . Stuttgart: Medpharm Scientific Publishers, 1994.
2. Tyler VE. The New Honest Herbal . Philadelphia: G.F. Stickley Co., 1987.
3. Duke JA. Handbook for Medicinal Herbs . Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985.
4. Henry TA. The Plant Alkaloids . Philadelphia: Blakiston Co., 1949.
5. Wink M, et al. Accumulation of Quinolizidine Alkaloids in Plants and Cell Suspension Cultures: General Lupinus, Cytisus, Baptisia, Genista, Laburnum, and Sophora. Planta Med 1983;48:253.
6. Jusiak L, et al. Analysis of Alkaloid Extract from the Herb of Cytisus scoparious by Chromatography on Moist Buffered Paper and Countercurrent Distribution. Acta Pol Pharm 1967;24(6):618.
7. Murakoshi I, et al. (-)-3α, 13β -Dihydroxylupanine from Cytisus scoparius . Phytochem 1986;25(2):521.
8. Brown JK, Malone MH. “Legal Highs” — Constituents, Activity, Toxicology, and Herbal Folklore. Pacific Information Service on Street Drugs 1977;5(3–6):21.
9. Kurihara T, Kikuchi M. Studies on the Constituents of Flowers, XIII. On the Components of the Flower of Cytisus scoparius Link. Yakugaku Zasshi 1980;100(10):1054.
10. Bowman WC, Rand MJ. Textbook of Pharmacology . Ondon: Bowman & Blackwell Scientific Publishers, 1980.
11. Rashack VM. Wirkungen von Spartein und Sparteinderivaten auf Herz and Kreislauf. Arzneim-Forsch 1974;24(5):753.
12. Young NM, et al. Structural differences between two lectins from Cytisus scoparius, both specific for D-galactose and N-acetyl-D-galactosamine. Biochem J 1984;222(1):41.
13. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD, eds. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals . London: Pharmaceutical Press; 1996.
14. Ernst E. Herbal medicinal products during pregnancy: are they safe? BJOG . 2002;109:227-235.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

Hide
(web4)