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Scoparii Cacumina, B.P. Broom Tops. Scoparinum, Sparteina, Sparteinae Sulphas.

Botanical name:


Broom tops (Scoparius, U.S.P.) are obtained from Cytisus scoparius, Link (N.O. Leguminosae), a shrub indigenous to England and temperate Europe. The trips are used both fresh and dried. The stem of the broom produces long, slender, glabrous, alternate branches which bear small, sessile leaves near the tips, but trifoliate stalked ones below. The flowers are yellow and papilionaceous; the fruits, flattened legumes with hairy margins. When dried, the drug often consists almost entirely of the slender branches. On incineration, it yields about 3 per cent. of ash. Taste, bitter and disagreeable; odour, slight.

Constituents.—The drug contains a liquid, volatile alkaloid, sparteine, in small proportion, together with a yellow, crystalline substance, scoparin, belonging to the quercetin group.

Action and Uses.—Broom tops are employed as a feeble diuretic, generally in dropsical complaints of Cardiac origin. This action is due to the scoparin; the sparteine present was formerly reputed to exert a tonic, action on the heart, in reality, however, its action is almost identical with that of coniine. In large doses sparteine weakens the heart, depresses nerve cells, and lowers blood pressure. It has been proposed to use sparteine to paralyse the vagus before the administration of chloroform, but atropine is much more satisfactory for this purpose. The drug is given usually in the form of decoction, often with squill and ammonium or potassium acetate.


Decoctum Scoparii, B.P. 1885.—DECOCTION OF BROOM.
Broom tops, dried, 5; distilled water, sufficient to produce 100. Add the broom tops to 100 of the water, boil for ten minutes, strain, and make up to the required volume, if necessary, by passing distilled water through the strainer. Decoction of broom is chiefly employed as a diuretic in dropsical conditions. Dose.—60 to 120 mils ( 2 to 4 fluid ounces).
Infusum Scoparii, B.P.—INFUSION OF BROOM.
Broom tops, dried and bruised, 10; distilled water, boiling, 100. Infuse the drug in the water for fifteen minutes , in a covered vessel, and strain. Infusion of broom is a vehicle for diuretics. Dose.—30 to 60 mils (1 to 2 fluid ounces).
Infusum Scoparii Concentration, B.P.C.—CONCENTRATED INFUSION OF BROOM.
A product closely resembling infusion of broom is obtained by diluting 1 part of this preparation with 7 parts of distilled water. Dose.—4 to 8 mils (1 to 2 fluid drachms).
Succus Scoparii, B.P.—JUICE OF BROOM.
Broom juice is prepared by subjecting the bruised, fresh broom tops to pressure, adding to the expressed juice one-third its volume of alcohol, allowing the mixture to stand for seven days. and filtering. This juice is of fairly constant strength, containing the equivalent of about 0.162 per cent. of alkaloid, reckoned as hydrochloride. Dose.—4 to 8 mils (1 to 2 fluid drachms).


C20H20O10 = 420.16.

Scoparin, C19H16O8(OH) (OCH3), is a phenolic substance (not a glucoside), occurring in broom, Cytisus scoparius, Link. (N.O. Leguminosae), and may be prepared by boiling the tops and twigs of the plant in water, evaporating the decoction to a low bulk, and allowing to stand for twenty-four hours. The gelatinous, crude scoparin thus obtained is washed with a little cold water, dissolved in boiling water containing a few drops of hydrochloric acid, filtered and set aside to solidify; the jelly again formed is purified by washing, pressing, and drying over a water-bath. Scoparin occurs as a tasteless, odourless, neutral, pale yellow, amorphous, brittle mass, or as a yellow, crystalline powder. When slowly heated the substance puffs up, and melts at about 202°; if quickly heated it Melts at about 219°; on further heating it carbonises without subliming, and burns with a bright flame. Chlorinated lime colours its aqueous solution dark green; bromine gives a bluish-green colour. By the action of nitric acid, picric acid is formed. Neutral and basic lead acetates give a yellowish-green precipitate, but silver nitrate and mercuric chloride have no action. On fusion with potassium hydroxide, acetovanillone, phloroglucinol and protocatechuic acid are formed. Hot alcohol converts it into a mixture of a jelly-like, insoluble, and a crystalline soluble modification.

Scarcely soluble in water; soluble in hot water, forming a light, greenish-yellow solution; slightly soluble in alcohol; soluble in hot alcohol; easily soluble in solution of ammonia and in solutions of the caustic alkalies and their carbonates. The solutions in caustic alkalies are greenish-yellow, and deposit a greenish-brown resin on boiling. Hot aqueous solutions reduce alkaline copper and silver solutions. Scoparin is precipitated as a jelly from the cold ammoniacal solution, by excess of hydrochloric acid.

Action and Uses.—Scoparin is said to be the chief cause of the diuretic action of broom tops, and it may be administered in place of the preparations of the crude drug, either in mixture form with sodium bicarbonate, or hypodermically, dissolved by the aid of a very small quantity of solution of ammonia.

Dose.—3 to 5 decigrams (5 to 8 grains); hypodermically, 3 to 5 centigrams (1/2 to 1 gram).


C15H26N2 = 234.228.

Sparteine; C15H26N2, is a volatile, liquid alkaloid, obtained from broom, Cytisus Scoparius, Link. (N.O. Leguminosae). It may be prepared by extracting the plant with water acidified with sulphuric acid, concentrating the solution, and distilling with solution of sodium hydroxide until the distillate is no longer alkaline. The distillate is acidified with hydrochloric acid, evaporated to dryness on a water-bath, the residue moistened with water, and distilled with solid potassium hydroxide. Ammonia is first given off, and then the alkaloid, as a thick, oily liquid. The latter is freed from water by warming with sodium, and finally distilling in a current of hydrogen. Another method is to exhaust the powdered plant with 60 per cent. alcohol, distil off the alcohol, and take up the residue with tartaric acid. The acid solution is filtered, treated with potassium carbonate in excess, and shaken with ether. The ethereal solution is then extracted with solution of tartaric acid, the acid solution made alkaline with potassium carbonate, and again extracted with ether, from which, by evaporation, the pure sparteine is obtained. Sparteine occurs as a transparent, oily liquid, colourless when pure and freshly prepared, but absorbing oxygen, under the influence of air and light, and becoming yellowish to dark-brown in colour, and thicker; heavier than water, having a penetrating odour resembling aniline, and an intensely bitter taste. It is a strong base, and combines with acids to form crystallisable silts. The aqueous solution is strongly alkaline. Boiling-point, about 311°; rotation, -14.6°. Sparteine yields a white, curdy precipitate with cadmium iodide; with sodium phosphomolybdate a white precipitate soluble on heating. With silver nitrate there is no precipitation. Copper salts give a green precipitate, and platinum chloride a yellow, crystalline precipitate. Iodine in ethereal solution converts it into the periodide, which crystallises from alcohol in green needles.

Sparingly soluble in water; soluble in alcohol, ether, or chloroform; insoluble in benzin, benzene, or petroleum oils.

Action and Uses.—The action of sparteine is described under Sparteinae Sulphas. Pure sparteine is rarely employed in medicine. The periodide has been given in pill form, but the most commonly used salt of sparteine is the sulphate (see Sparteinae Sulphas).


C15H28N2O4S, 5H2O = 422.394.

Sparteine sulphate, C15H26N3, H2SO4, 5H2O, is a salt of the dibasic alkaloid sparteine, and may be prepared by neutralising the colourless alkaloid (10 parts) with diluted sulphuric acid (about 40 parts of 10 per cent. solution), rapidly concentrating the solution, and allowing to crystallise in a warm place. Under varying conditions it crystallises with different proportions of water, and may also he obtained in the form of an anhydrous salt, but by recrystallisation from diluted alcohol the salt containing five molecules (21.32 per cent.) of water of crystallisation is obtained. It is official in the U.S.P. Sparteine sulphate occurs in the form of colourless, odourless, hygroscopic, rhombohedral crystals, or as a white, crystalline powder, having a slight, saline and bitter taste. The aqueous solution has a weak acid reaction to litmus. Sparteine sulphate when heated to 100° loses its water of crystallisation, the anhydrous salt melting at 150° to 152°. On ignition, it leaves no residue (absence of mineral impurities). If a small quantity of the salt be warmed gently with about one-third of its weight of chromic acid, a distinct odour of coniine is evolved, and a green colouration produced. The 10 per cent. aqueous solution gives with sodium hydroxide a white precipitate, which soon unites into oily drops, and is soluble in ether or chloroform. On warming an alkaline solution, no odour of ammonia should be given off. If 1 decigram be heated with 2.5 decimils (0.25 milliliters) of chloroform, and 1 mil of alcoholic solution of potassium hydroxide, no odour of phenyl isocyanide should be evolved (absence of aniline). The salt should dissolve in concentrated sulphuric acid without colouration (absence of readily carbonisable organic impurities), and if a crystal of potassium bichromate be stirred with the solution a green, but not a violet, colouration should be produced (absence of strychnine). On adding 25 mils of ether to about 1 decigram of the salt, and then a few drops, but not an excess, of solution of ammonia, and afterwards an ethereal solution of iodine (1 in 50), until the solution on shaking turns from orange to dark reddish-brown in colour, the sides of the vessel containing the solution will shortly become covered with minute, dark, greenish-brown crystals.

Soluble in water (2 in 1), alcohol (1 in 5); insoluble in ether or chloroform.

Action and Uses.—The general effects of sparteine resemble those of coniine, but it is very ranch less poisonous. It has very little action on the central nervous system, hut large doses paralyse sympathetic nerve cells and the peripheral terminations of the motor nerves. Depression of autonomic nerve-cells causes a fall in blood pressure with vaso-dilatation, and its employment has been recommended in cases of high blood-pressure. It has no pronounced action on the heart. The diuretic action of preparations of broom-tops is due to scoparin, not to sparteine. Sparteine sulphate is the most commonly used salt of the base, and has been given in doses as large as 8 decigrams (12 grains). It is administered in pills, or used in the form of hypodermic injection, from 1 to 4 decimils (0.1 to 0.4 milliliters) (2 to 6 minims) of a 15 per cent. solution being injected as required.

Dose.—6 to 12 centigrams (1 to 2 grains), or more.

The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

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