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Broom as an Herb

Butchers Broom as an herb

Sarothamnus scoparius

Also known as Butcher's Broom.

The densely-growing Broom is a shrub indigenous to England, growing wild all over Europe and northern Asia and found on sandy pastures and heaths. It is sparingly naturalized in sandy soil in North America.

The long, slender, erect and tough branches of Broom grow in large, close fascicles, making it useful for making brooms, which is how it derived its English name. The twigs and branches are not only for great for making brooms, but are also used for basket work, especially in the island of Madeira. They are sometimes used in the north of England and Scotland for thatching cottages and cornricks, and as substitutes for reeds in making fences or screens.

When fresh, the whole plant has a strong, unusual odor, especially when bruised, which almost entirely disappears on drying.

Broom was used in ancient Anglo-Saxon medicine and by Welsh physicians of the early Middle Ages. 'This humble shrub,' writes Baines, 'was not less distinguished than the Rose herself during the civil wars of the fourteenth century.'

One of my favorite tales of Broom is the one that when Joseph and Mary were fleeing into Egypt, Mary cursed the plants of the Broom because the crackling of their ripe pods as they touched them in passing risked drawing the attention of Herod's soldiers.

Herods soldiers looking for Mary

Broom as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

Broom has been used to treat urinary tract disorders, and to increase the flow of urine. It should not be used if you have acute renal disease. To make this treatment, 1 ounce Broomtops and 1/2 ounce of organic dandelion roots are boiled in one pint of water down to half a pint, then adding 1/2 ounce of bruised Juniper berries. When cold, the decoction is strained and a small quantity of cayenne added. A wine glassful is taken three or four times a day.

Broom also may have constituents that regulate the action of the heart.

The blossoms were used for making an unguent to cure the gout, and Henry VIII used to drink a water made from the flowers against the surfeit.

Some of the old physicians burned the tops to ashes and infused the salts thus extracted in wine. They were known as Salts of Broom (Sal Genistae). The leaves or young tops yield a green dye.

Culinary Uses of Broom

Broom Buds Broom buds were evidently a favourite delicacy, for they appeared on three separate tables at the Coronation feast of James II.

The seeds of this shrub have been ground and used as a coffee substitute.

Before hops, Broom was added to flavor and enhance the intoxicating effects of beer.

Broom Juice (Succus Scoparii) is directed to be obtained by pressing out the bruised, fresh tops, adding one-third volume of alcohol and setting aside for seven days, filtering before use. Broom Juice is official in the British, French, German and United States Pharmacopoeias.

Broom Juice, in large doses, is apt to disturb the stomach and bowels and is therefore more often used as an adjuvant to other diuretics than alone.

It is essential that true Broom be carefully distinguished from Spanish Broom. A number of cases of poisoning have occurred from the substitution of the dried flowers of Spartium for those of the true Broom.

Folklore

Magickal properties. Broom is used in spells for purification and protection. It was rumored to be helpful with poltergeists. Throw Broom in the air to raise the winds. And burn Broom, burying the ashes, to calm the winds. The strong smell of Broom can tame wild horses and dogs.

Banishing and releasing spell. Bundle a handful of twigs to create a small ritual hand broom. Write the name of what you want to release or banish from your life on a piece of paper and burn it. When the ashes are cool scatter them on the floor around your altar. Take the broom and sweep the ashes from the center out to the edge of your circle. Gather the ashes and then scatter them to the wind.

Cautions

Use small quantities only.

Beccause broom may constrict blood vessels, do not use if you have high blood pressure.

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