Broom weed is native to central and southern Europe. It grows throughout the United States along the Eastern coastline and across the Pacific Northwest.
The plant grows as a deciduous bush up to 1.8 m tall and possesses 5-sided, greenish, rod-like twigs with small leaves. It is a bitter narcotic herb that depresses the respiration and regulates heart action.
Broom weed can be described as many unbranched, erect stems originate from a woody base and die back when the plant goes dormant. The leaves are narrow and threadlike.
The small yellow flowers are clustered at the branch tips from June to October. There are many varieties that are hard to tell apart. These are called Snakeweed, Kindling Weed, Turpentine Weed, Matchweed and Matchbrush.
The broom weed is mostly the annual variety with one main stalk and a canopy of branches, leaves and blooms at the top. Others may be perennials with multiple stalks coming from the root. The leaves and flowers were to make tea.
It has many other applications in herbal medicine in tropical countries: abortifacient, contraceptive, analgesic, diabetes, expectorant, diarrhoea, emmenagogue, stomach diseases, mucolytic, depurative and dysmenorrhoea (painful menstruation).
This herb has been used in India for many generations as an aid to persons suffering from diabetes. Broom weed helps cope with diarrhoea, fever and stomach diseases. Distilled water made from broom flowers was commonly used as a diuretic and purgative.
It has been used to make poultices to treat rattlesnake bites in sheep. By some it is still steeped 30 to 40 minutes in water and this tea is poured into a hot bath to ease the pain of arthritis. The Navajo chewed it and applied it as a poultice to alleviate stings and insect bites.
It is available in capsules and tablets; broom weed is easily rendered into an herbal tea. A few cups of the brew sipped during the day may help nature to find the pain in your body before dismissing it.