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Broom

Scientific Name(s): Cytisus scoparius (L.) Link.
Common Name(s): Bannal, Besenginaterkraut, Broom, Broom top, Ginsterkraut, Herba genistac scopariae, Herba spartii scoparii, Herbe de genet a balais, Hog weed, Irish broom top, Sarothamni herb, Scoparii cacumina, Scotch broom, Scotch broom top

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jan 4, 2018.

Clinical Overview

Use

Clinical trials are lacking to support any pharmacological use.

Dosing

There is no recent clinical evidence to guide dosing. Traditional dosing used 1 tsp of the chopped flower shoots in water 3 to 4 times a day or 1 to 1.5 g of the dried herb. Extracts and tinctures have also been prepared.

Contraindications

Contraindicated in pregnancy and cardiomyopathies, including hypertension.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Avoid use. There are documented adverse effects; broom contains sparteine, a powerful oxytocic compound.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Cardiovascular and CNS effects have been described.

Toxicology

Toxic effects include weakness, blurred vision, loss of coordination, dysrhythmias, nausea, and vomiting. Long-term use of sparteine has been associated with twitching and hyperreflexia, dysphagia, and pyramidal effects. The plant is considered toxic to livestock.

Scientific Family

  • Fabaceae (bean)

Botany

Broom is native to central and southern Europe. It grows throughout the United States along the eastern coastline and across the Pacific Northwest and is considered a noxious weed in some states. The plant grows as a deciduous bush up to 1.8 m tall and possesses 5-sided, greenish, rod-like twigs with small leaves. It is often used as an outdoor ornamental to hold steep, barren banks in place against erosion. The plant blossoms from March to June and bears golden-yellow flowers, with 2.5 to 5 cm long, flat seed pods appearing later. The branches of the plant have been used in making brooms, thatching, and screens, and the bark as rope and in tanning. The flower buds were used as a caper substitute.USDA 2014, Weber 2009 Synonyms include Sarothamnus scoparius (L.) Wimm. and Spartius scoparium L.Weber 2009

History

In early North 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. Sparteine, an alkaloid found in broom, was once used as a labor inducer and antiarrhythmic, but it has now been abandoned for safer compounds.

The plant has been touted as a potential drug of abuse or "legal high." 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.Blumenthal 2000, Duke 2003, Tyler 1987

Chemistry

The main alkaloid in the plant is sparteine. It is found in the floral parts of the plant in concentrations ranging up to 0.22%, but possibly exceeding 1.5% in other parts. Related alkaloids have also been isolated. The compounds chrysanthemexanthin, dopamine, epinine, furfurol, tyrosine, luteolin, orientin, quercetin, scoparin, and tyramine have been identified in the plant parts.

The seeds contain the toxic alkaloid cytisine (similar in structure to nicotine), sitosterol, genistein, and linoleic acid. Tyramine has been identified in the flowering parts along with flavonoids, isoflavones, and other constituents.Duke 2003, Kurihara 1980, Thompson-Evans 2011, Wink 1983

Uses and Pharmacology

Clinical studies with whole plant extract or parts are generally lacking. In vitro studies evaluating the effect of individual chemical constituents have been undertaken.

Antimicrobial

The plant possesses mild activity against a limited number of human pathogens.Gowthamarajan 2002

Antioxidant

In vitro and animal studies have demonstrated some antioxidant activity, and use as a topical preparation to protect against ultraviolet light damage has been explored.González 2013, Raja 2007, Sundararajan 2006

Cardiovascular

Animal data

There are no recent animal data regarding the use of C. scoparius for cardiovascular conditions.

Clinical data

There are no recent clinical data regarding the use of C. scoparius for cardiovascular conditions. Folkloric use of broom for improved circulation and antiarrhythmic effect has not been validated in clinical studies, despite the German Commission E Monographs recommendation for use in functional heart disorders and circulatory disorders.Blumenthal 2000 It is possible that at low doses, cardioactive compounds such as sparteine act in opposing ways to their effect at high doses; thus, both negative and positive inotropic effects have been reported. In addition, diuretic effects have been reported for sparteine.Duke 2003, Jalili 2013, Vogel 2005 The use of C. scoparius is contraindicated in cardiomyopathy.Duke 2003, Vogel 2005

CNS

Cytisine extracted from the plant seeds has been evaluated for activity in attenuating inflammation via inhibition of T-cell activity, and protection against decreased striatal dopamine tissue levels of relevance in Parkinson disease.Li 2013 However, sparteine caused neuronal cell death in rodent experiments.Flores-Soto 2006

Dosing

There is no recent clinical evidence to guide dosing. Traditional dosing used 1 tsp of the chopped flower shoots in water 3 to 4 times a day or 1 to 1.5 g of the dried herb. Extracts and tinctures have also been prepared.Blumenthal 2000, Duke 2003

Pregnancy / Lactation

Avoid use. There are documented adverse effects; broom contains sparteine, a powerful oxytocic compound.Ernst 2002, Newall 1996

Interactions

None well documented. Theoretically, do not use broom with monoamine oxidase inhibitors and cardiovascular medicines.Duke 2003

Adverse Reactions

The use of C. scoparius is contraindicated in cardiomyopathy. Hypertension, bradycardia, tachycardia, and diuresis have been described.Duke 2003, Vogel 2005

Toxicology

Smoking broom cigarettes may pose a number of health hazards. Sparteine is an oily liquid that vaporizes readily when heated, and large amounts may be inhaled through broom cigarettes. Toxic effects include weakness, blurred vision, loss of coordination, dysrhythmias, nausea, and vomiting.Duke 2003, Flores-Soto 2006 The constituent, sparteine, caused neuronal cell death in rodent experiments.Flores-Soto 2006 Long-term use of sparteine has been associated with twitching and hyperreflexia, dysphagia, and pyramidal signs.Flores-Soto 2006 The plant is considered toxic to livestock.

Index Terms

  • Sarothamnus scoparius (L.) Wimm
  • Spartius scoparium L.

References

Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
Cytisus scoparius L. USDA, NRCS. 2006. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 7 February 2014). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. Accessed February 7, 2014.
Duke JA. Handbook for Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2003.
Ernst E. Herbal medicinal products during pregnancy: are they safe? BJOG. 2002;109(3):227-235.11950176
Flores-Soto ME, Bañuelos-Pineda J, Orozco-Suárez S, Schliebs R, Beas-Zárate C. Neuronal damage and changes in the expression of muscarinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes in the neonatal rat cerebral cortical upon exposure to sparteine, a quinolizidine alkaloid. Int J Dev Neurosci. 2006;24(6):401-410.16843632
González N, Ribeiro D, Fernandes E, et al. Potential use of Cytisus scoparius extracts in topical applications for skin protection against oxidative damage. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2013;125:83-89.
Gowthamarajan K, Kulkarni TG, Mahadevan N, Santhi K, Suresh B. Antimicrobial activity of selected herbal extracts. Anc Sci Life. 2002;21(3):188-190.22557052
Jalili J, Askeroglu U, Alleyne B, Guyuron B. Herbal products that may contribute to hypertension. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2013;131(1):168-173.23271526
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.
Li YJ, Yang Q, Zhang K, et al. Cytisine confers neuronal protection against excitotoxic injury by down-regulating GluN2B-containing NMDA receptors. Neurotoxicology. 2013;34:219-225.23022271
Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD, eds. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 1996.
Raja S, Ahamed KF, Kumar V, Mukherjee K, Bandyopadhyay A, Mukherjee PK. Antioxidant effect of Cytisus scoparius against carbon tetrachloride treated liver injury in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007;109(1):41-47.16930896
Sundararajan R, Haja NA, Venkatesan K, et al. Cytisus scoparius link—a natural antioxidant. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006;6:8.16542432
Thompson-Evans TP, Glover MP, Walker N. Cytisine's potential to be used as a traditional healing method to help indigenous people stop smoking: a qualitative study with Māori. Nicotine Tob Res. 2011;13(5):353-360.21385905
Tyler VE. The New Honest Herbal. Philadelphia: G.F. Stickley Co; 1987.
Vogel JH, Bolling SF, Costello RB, et al; American College of Cardiology Foundation Task Force on Clinical Expert Consensus Documents (Writing Committee to Develop an Expert Consensus Document on Complementary and Integrative Medicine). Integrating complementary medicine into cardiovascular medicine. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2005;46(1):184-221.15992662
Weber RW. Scotch broom, Cytisus scoparius. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2009;103(3):A4.19788012
Wink M, Witte L, Hartmann T, Theuring C, Volz V. Accumulation of quinolizidine alkaloids in plants and cell suspension cultures: general lupinus, cytisus, baptisia, genista, laburnum, and sophora. Planta Med. 1983;48(8):253-259.17404991

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