"Broom Tops are the fresh and the dried tops of Cytisus scoparius, Link." Br. "The dried top of Cytisus Scoparius (Linné) Link (Fam. Leguminosae)." N. F.
Scoparius, N. F.; Herba Scoparii, Spartium; Irish or Scotch Broom, Besom, Genet à balais, Fr.; Gemeine Besenginster, Besenginster, Besenkraut, Pfriemenkraut, G.
Cytisus scoparius is a common European shrub, cultivated as a sand-binder and locally naturalized on the Atlantic Coast from Nantucket to Virginia. It is a low, densely branched shrub, from three to eight feet high, with numerous straight, pentangular, bright green, very flexible branches, and small, oblong, glabrous leaves, usually ternate, but on the upper part of the plant sometimes simple. The flowers are numerous, papilionaceous, large, showy, of a golden-yellow color, and solitary upon short axillary peduncles. The seeds are contained in a compressed legume, which is hairy at the sutures. It is essential that true broom be carefully distinguished from Spanish broom (Spartium Junceum., since a number of cases of poisoning have occurred from the substitution of the dried flowers of Spartium for those of broom.
The whole plant has a bitter, nauseous taste, and, when bruised, a strong, peculiar odor. The tops of the branches are used in medicine. They are in "thin, flexible, branched twigs, from 2 to 3 mm. in thickness, five-angled; externally dark green, nearly glabrous, with numerous reddish-brown cork patches; internally yellowish, fracture short-fibrous, that of thicker pieces tough and splintery, upper leaves sessile, with often only one obovate leaflet present in small amount or absent. Odor slight, on bruising more distinct and peculiar; taste disagreeable, bitter. Scoparius yields not more than 5 per cent. of ash." N. F. IV.
"Stem dark green, with long, straight, slender, alternate branches; the latter, like the upper part of the stem, winged, tough, flexible, and glabrous. Leaves, when present, small, sessile, and simple above, stalked and trifoliate below. Odor of the fresh tops, especially when bruised,, characteristic; the dry tops almost inodorous." Br.
The seeds are reported to be used sometimes, and to be as active as the tops. Water and alcohol extract their active properties. According to Cadet de Gassicourt, the flowers contain volatile oil, fatty matter, wax, chlorophyll, yellow coloring matter, tannin, a sweet substance, mucilage, albumen, and lignin. Stenhouse has separated from them two principles, scoparin, C21H22O10 (Goldschmidt and Himmelmayer (Ap. Ztq., 1893, 566) give the following formula of scoparin: C10H16O8(OH) (OCH3)), and an alkaloid, sparteine, C15H26N2. The former is in stellate crystals, easily dissolved by boiling water and alcohol, and is obtained by purifying a yellow gelatinous substance deposited upon the evaporation of the decoction. It is only slightly soluble in cold water, more readily in hot water with greenish light yellow color, easily soluble in aqueous ammonia and caustic and carbonated alkalies. It is decomposed by heat. When fused with potassium hydroxide it yields, according to Hlasiwetz, phloroglucin and protocatechuic acid. Sparteine was obtained by distillation from the mother waters of the scoparin. It is a colorless liquid, having a peculiar bitter taste, and all the properties of a volatile alkaloid. It is heavier than water, and boils at 288° C. (550.4° F.) if distilled in a current of hydrogen gas. It dissolves only slightly in water, but takes up some water itself. In contact with water it becomes opalescent. It turns yellowish on distillation in air, but can be distilled colorless in an atmosphere of carbon dioxide. It is colorless, but becomes brown by exposure to light; it has at first an odor of aniline, but this is altered by rectification. It readily neutralizes acids and forms crystallizable salts, which are extremely bitter. Its sulphate occurs in colorless crystals, and is freely soluble in water. (See P. J., June 28, 1879; also Sparteinae Sulphas.) By the action of potassium dichromate and sulphuric acid, oxysparteine, C15H24N2O, is formed, and by the action of hydrogen dioxide upon this, a deliquescent trioxysparteine, C15H24N2O3, is obtained; if the hydrogen dioxide acts upon. sparteine itself, dioxysparteine, C15H24N2O2, is formed as a solid, crystallizing in prisms melting at 128.5° C. (263.3° F.). Zinc and hydrochloric acid reduce sparteine to hydrosparteine, C15H28N2, a thick liquid boiling at from 281° to 284° C. (537.8°-543.2° F.). (Schmidt, Pharmaceutische Chemie, 3te Auf., Bd. ii, 1276.)
Uses.—Scoparius is diuretic and cathartic, and in large doses emetic, and has been employed with advantage in dropsy. Cullen prescribed it in the form of decoction, made by boiling half an ounce of the fresh tops in a pint of water down to half a pint, of which he gave a fluidounce (30 mils) every hour until it operated by stool or urine. The seeds may be given in powder, in the dose of from ten to fifteen grains (0.65-1.0 Gm.). A fluidextract is official in the N. F. IV.
Scoparin probably represents the diuretic and purgative influences of scoparius, although its physiological and therapeutic properties have not as yet been sufficiently investigated. For description of the effects of sparteine, see Sparteinae Sulphas.
Oxysparteine, C15H24N2O.—This is an alkaloidal oxidation product of sparteine, originally described by F. Ahrens (Ber. d. Chem. Ges., 1891). It occurs in white, somewhat hygroscopic needles, melting at about 84° C. (183.2° F.), soluble in water, alcohol, ether, and chloroform. It has been found by Hurthle (A. E. P. P., 1892) to be a cardiac stimulant, decreasing the pulse rate, but markedly increasing the arterial pressure and heart work. The hydrochloride, which occurs in large needles (often consolidated together) and is very soluble in water, has been used hypodermically by von Oefele in cases of heart failure. The dose is half a grain (0.032 Gm.), rapidly increased to one and a half grains (0.096 Gm.). The system is said soon to become accustomed to it.
Dose, of scoparius, ten to fifteen grains (0.65-1.0 Gm.).