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Cytisus (generic name)

treats Labor induction, Diuretic, and Cardiovascular conditions
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Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius Linn.) herb and flower, sparteine

Category

Herbs & Supplements

Alternate Title

Cytisus scoparius, Sparteine, Broom

Synonyms

Bannal, basam, Besenginaterkraut, besom, bissom, bream, broom, broom tops, broomtops, browme, brum, common broom, Cystisi scoparii flos, Cystisus scoparius, Cytsus scoprfus, English broom, European broom, genet a balais, Genista andreana, Genista scoparius (Lam.), Ginsterkraut, greem broom, herba spartii scoparii, herbe de genet a balais, herbe de genistae scopariae, herbe de hogweed, hogweed, Irish broom, Irish tops, sarothamni herb, Sarothamnus scoparius (Koch), Sarothamnus vulgaris, Scoparii cacumina, scopari herba, scotch broom top, scotchbroom, sparteine, Spartium scoparium Linn., sumidad de retma de escobas.

Family: Fabaceae/Leguminosae/Papilionaceae.

Note: Not to be confused with Spanish broom (Spartium junceum), which has been associated with severe toxicity, or Butcher's broom (Ruscus aculeatus).

Background

Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius), also referred to as broom, is a perennial woody plant native to Europe. The species was introduced as a garden ornamental to North America and now is common across western Canada and California. Scotch broom plants grow up to 10 feet tall with sharply angled branches off the main stem, trifoliate leaves, and bright yellow small flowers. Scotch broom spreads quickly and aggressively at the expense of other plants and trees and is often considered a pest.

Both the flower and herb of scotch broom have been used medicinally. There is very little available scientific evidence about the efficacy or safety of this plant, and most conclusions come from knowledge of its constituents or from traditional use. There is particular concern about the potential toxicity of scotch broom due to the presence of small amounts of the toxic alkaloids sparteine and isosparteine, which are found in both the flowers and herb (above-ground parts). Sparteine has known effects on the electrical conductivity of heart muscle and can potentially cause dangerous heart rhythms or interact with cardiac drugs. Sparteine is also known to cause uterine contractions and should be avoided during pregnancy. Life-threatening adverse effects have been associated with sparteine and therefore scotch broom should be used only under strict medical supervision.

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