The fresh and dried tops of Cytisus Scoparius (Saroihamnus Scoparius). From indigenous plants.

Characters. - Thin flexible tough twigs, dark green, angular, of a bitter nauseous taste, and of a peculiar odour when bruised.

Composition. - It was found by Stenhouse to contain two principles: a neutral body, scoparin, and a volatile poisonous alkaloid, sparteine.




Decoctum Scoparii (1 oz. in 1 pint for 10 minutes and strain),

1-3 fl. oz.

Succus Scoparii..........................

1-2 fl. dr. or more.

None in u.s.p.

Physiological Action. - Broom-tops have a diuretic action.

The action of sparteine is identical with that of coniine. It paralyses the endings of the motor nerves and vagi, diminishes reflex excitability of the cord, and causes death by paralysis of the respiratory centre in the medulla oblongata. According to J. Fick it has a diuretic action.

Scoparin has been supposed to be the diuretic principle. It has little physiological action, and in a number of unpublished experiments which I made in 1865 with a specimen given to me by my friend Dr. Stenhouse, I found that in the healthy subject it does not produce diuresis. Similar results have been obtained by Paton. It is quite possible, however, that it may act as a diuretic in cases of dropsy.

Therapeutical Uses. - Broom-tops are most useful in dropsy dependent on chronic renal disease. They are also useful in cardiac dropsy, but digitalis is generally more certain. In comparative experiments I have found the decoction of the dried broom-tops quite as efficacious as the juice expressed from the fresh tops.