Herb of the Day for August 12 – Broom

Broom

Botanical Name

  • Family Leguminosae
  • Sarothamnus scoparius syn. Cytisus scoparius

Common Names

  • Scotch Broom, Irish Broom/Tops, Broomtops, Besom, Scoparium, Basam, Bizzom, Browme, Brum, Breeam

Cautions

  • Take internally only under professional supervision.
  • Do not take during pregnancy.
  • Do not take if suffering from high blood pressure.
  • Do not take with MAO inhibitors as it can cause a sudden rise in blood pressure.
  • Farm animals that ingest large amounts, especially along with alfalfa, may suffer fatal internal bleeding.

Description

Native to Europe, broom is commonly found on heaths, along roadsides, and in open woodlands. It is naturalized in many temperate regions, including North America, Africa, Canary Islands, Chile, and Japan. In the US, Australia, and New Zealand, it has overrun large areas of land once used for recreation and farming. The plant is a tall deciduous shrub, growing to a height of six feet, with narrow ridged stems, small trefoil leaves and bright yellow flowers in leafy terminal spikes. The leaves and pods are mildly toxic to farm animals if ingested in large amounts. The flowering tops are used by herbalists for medicinal purposes and are gathered from spring to autumn.

History

Both the common and species names indicate its usefulness as a sweeper (“scopa” means broom in Latin).

Its medicinal value is not mentioned in classical writings, but it does appear in medieval herbals. The 12th century Physicians of Myddfai recommended broom as a means of treating suppressed urine.

Broom was adopted at a very early period as the badge of Brittany, and has a long and colourful history. Geoffrey of Anjou was said to have thrust it into his helmet before going into battle so his troops could see him.

Henry II of England adapted broom’s medieval name (Planta genista) as his family name Plantagenet).

The shrub was seen on the great seal of Richard I, and adorns the Westminster Abbey tombstone of Richard II.

 

Medicinal Parts

  • Flowering tops
  • Sparteine is a potent alkaloid with actions similar to those of nicotine, slowing the heartbeat by suppressing certain nerve impulses. Other alkaloids in broom have shown to raise blood pressure and stimulate uterine contractions.
  • Isoflavones are estrogenic.
  • Scoparoside is a glycoside that is believed to have diuretic and laxative properties.

Traditional Uses

Common uses included ridding the body of excess fluid especially in CHF (congestive heart failure), as well as for treating cardiac arrhythmias, including an irregular, fast heartbeat. The plant acts on the electrical conductivity of the heart, slowing and regulating the transmission of the impulses. Since it is strongly diuretic, it stimulates urine production and thus countering fluid retention common in CHF cases. In Germany, broom is considered gentler and less toxic than the drug quinidine for treating heart arrhythmias.

It is also used to stimulate uterine contractions, and, since it causes the muscles of the uterus to contract, it has been used to prevent blood loss after childbirth.

By constricting small arteries, broom is said to help control heavy menstrual bleeding and reduces varicose veins.

What Is Bergamot: A Natural Healer

What Is Bergamot: A Natural Healer

What is bergamot? It has been sought after through the ages for its essential oil. It is very essential in promoting the body’s ability to inner heal.

Bergamot can be found in Italy, Morocco and the Ivory Coast, it originated in Asia. Bergamot is a small tree with long, oval green leaves with white flowers. The bergamot bears a small round fruit that is yellow when ripe. Bergamot’s essential oil is extracted by cold expression from the fruit peel. It has a spicy, delicate scent that is light and refreshing.

Bergamot is used as an antidepressant, and is calming and refreshing for the nervous system. It is highly useful as an antiseptic and is used as an insect repellent. When using as an insect repellent use caution and avoid strong sunlight, bergamot contains furocoumarins, which can cause photosensitivity.

Bergamot received its name from the city where it was first cultivated, which was Bergamot, Italy. It is said that Christopher Columbus brought the tree from the Canary Islands to Spain and Italy. Bergamot oil was very valued oil during the 15th to 16th century; it was used in teas and perfumes. In voodoo it is thought to ward off evil and danger.

In today’s society bergamot is also very valued oil, it is used to aid in the digestion process, in treating urinary tract infections, and also with colic. The essential oil of Bergamot is great with acne, eczema, varicose ulcers and seborrhea of the skin and scalp.

For people with sensitive skin it is advised to use in moderation because if used in excess may irritate the skin.

Astronomy Picture of the Day for Jan. 23

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2012 January 23
See Explanation.Moving the cursor over the image will bring up an annotated version.Clicking on the image will bring up the highest resolution versionavailable.

Deep Orion Over the Canary Islands
Image Credit & Copyright: Juan Carlos Casado (TWAN) 

Explanation: Which attracts your eye more — the sky or the ground? On the ground are rocky peaks in Teide National Park on Tenerife Island of the Spanish Canary Islands off the northwestern coast of Africa. The volcanic landscape features old island summits and is sometimes used as a testbed for instruments on future Martian rovers. The lights of a nearby hotel shine on the far left. Storm clouds are visible on the horizon, artificially strutted from multiple exposures. Dividing the sky, across the middle of the above deep image, is the vertical band of the Milky Way Galaxy. The red circle on the right is Barnard’s Loop, near the center of which are the famous belt stars of the constellation Orion. Soon after the above image was taken, during an evening earlier this year, storm clouds rolled across, and indoor locations began to attract eyes the most.

Dragon’s Blood

Dragon’s Blood

Several tales tell of the magickal uses of a dragon’s organs and blood. In European lore, the blood was said to make a person invulnerable to stab wounds if they bathed in it, able to understand the speech of birds and animals if they drank it. One of Bothvar’s companions, in the Danish Hrolf’s Saga, ate a dragon’s heart and became extremely brave and strong. Eating the tongue gave eloquence and the ability to win any argument. The liver cured certain diseases, as did various other parts.

Medieval medicine and magick mention the use of dragon’s blood many times. Since dragons are not going to willingly give up their blood, magicians had to turn to other sources. There were said to be several sources of this material, other than from an actual dragon. The “bloodstone” hematite, an ore rich in iron, and the mineral cinnabar, a compound of mercury, were both called forms of dragon’s blood. However, the most widely used “dragon’s blood” was a gum resin. It was said that trees which originally grew from actual spilled dragon’s blood produced a reddish-brown sap of great magickal value. This species of tree is still called Dracaena draco by botanists. Incisions were made in the bark and sap collected as it congealed into resin. Most of these trees are found in the East Indies, souther Arabia, and the Canary Islands. Dragon’s blood resin is still known and used in magickal procedures today.

“Dancing with Dragons”

D. J. Conway

Astronomy Picture of the Day for Sept. 18th –

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2011 September 18

A Sharp View of the Sun
Credit: SST, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 

Explanation: Here is one of the sharper views of the Sun ever taken. This stunning image shows remarkable details of a dark sunspot across the image bottom and numerous boiling granules which appear like kernels of corn across the top. Taken in 2002, the picture was made using the Swedish Solar Telescope operating on the Canary Island of La Palma. The high resolution image was achieved using sophisticated adaptive optics, digital image stacking, and other processing techniques to counter the blurring effect of Earth’s atmosphere. Currently a sunspot group is crossing the Sun that is so large it can be easily seen by the cautious observer even without magnification.