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 trials are lacking to support any pharmacological use.
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.
Contraindicated in pregnancy and cardiomyopathies, including hypertension.
Avoid use. There are documented adverse effects; broom contains sparteine, a powerful oxytocic compound.
None well documented.
Cardiovascular and CNS effects have been described.
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.
- Fabaceae (bean)
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
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
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.
The plant possesses mild activity against a limited number of human pathogens.Gowthamarajan 2002
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
There are no recent animal data regarding the use of C. scoparius for cardiovascular conditions.
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
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
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
None well documented. Theoretically, do not use broom with monoamine oxidase inhibitors and cardiovascular medicines.Duke 2003
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.
- Sarothamnus scoparius (L.) Wimm
- Spartius scoparium L.
This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.
This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.
Copyright © 2019 Wolters Kluwer Health
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.