Broom corn (Sorghum vulgare)

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • Acid phosphatase, amino acids (lysine, tryptophan), ether extract, fiber, glutamine synthetases, Guinea corn, iron, jowar, kunu, molybdenum, phytates, polyphenols, protein, proteinase inhibitors, Sorghum saccharatum (Moench), sorghum seeds, Sorghum vulgare, starch (including amylase), sugars (sucrose, glucose, fructose).

Background

  • Sorghum vulgare, commonly known as broom corn, is thought to have originated in central Africa, though it has been grown in both Africa and Asia for centuries. For many cultures, the grains from broom corn are used to make essential foods, such as flat bread. Broom corn is also used to make kunu, a nonalcoholic cereal beverage commonly consumed in Nigeria. According to a survey, only millet is considered to be a better option for making this beverage.

  • The growth of broom corn was first described in Italy in the 1500s. Approximately 200 years later, Benjamin Franklin may have brought broom corn to the United States. According to secondary sources, Franklin planted a seed that he had found on a small whisk broom given to him by a friend in France. Broom corn was initially grown only in Philadelphia. However, after a man in Massachusetts planted half an acre and began selling brooms, broom corn farming and broom making developed into an important industry.

  • Broom corn has a course, fibrous seed head that has been used to make various types of brooms, whisk brooms, and brushes for hundreds of years. In addition, broom corn is now commonly used to make decorative items, such as wreaths, swags, floral arrangements, baskets, and autumn displays.

  • In addition to being used to make household items, some cultures have used broom corn for nutritional or medicinal purposes. From a nutritional standpoint, it has been observed that the carbohydrate content of broom corn may change as the plant grows, indicating that the nutritional value of broom corn changes as it ages. In addition, one study evaluated the energy balance of adult farmers (both male and female) for whom broom corn is a diet staple. Results showed that, on average, women consumed fewer calories than they burned each day, indicating that diets relying on broom corn may not provide enough energy.

  • Although broom corn has not been well studied in humans from a medicinal standpoint, studies conducted in India have stated that eating broom corn may not protect against the formation of stomach ulcers when an abnormally high amount of stomach acid is present.

  • There is currently a lack of evidence and safety information from human studies to support the use of broom corn for any indication.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Food uses, nutrition (protein source).

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for broom corn in adults.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for broom corn in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or sensitivity to broom corn, its components, or members of the Poaceae family. According to preliminary research, broom corn pollen may induce allergic bronchial asthma.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • In general, there is currently a lack of available data on the adverse effects of broom corn. In general, broom corn is considered to be likely safe when consumed as whole food or as an ingredient of food.

  • Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or sensitivity to broom corn, its constituents, or members of the Poaceae family. According to preliminary research, broom corn pollen may induce allergic bronchial asthma.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Broom corn is not suggested in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Insufficient available evidence.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Insufficient available evidence.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Bhatia IS, Gumber SC, and Singh R. Metabolism of free sugars in relation to starch synthesis in the developing SORGHUM vulgare grain. Physiologia Plantarum 1980;49(2):248-254.
  2. Bleiberg, F. M., Brun, T. A., Goihman, S., and Gouba, E. Duration of activities and energy expenditure of female farmers in dry and rainy seasons in Upper-Volta. Br.J Nutr 1980;43(1):71-82. View Abstract
  3. Bleiberg, F., Brun, T. A., Goihman, S., and Lippman, D. Food intake and energy expenditure of male and female farmers from Upper-Volta. Br.J Nutr 1981;45(3):505-515. View Abstract
  4. Deosthale, Y. G. and Gopalan, C. The effect of molybdenum levels in sorghum (Sorghum vulgare Pers.) on uric acid and copper excretion in man. Br.J.Nutr. 1974;31(3):351-355. View Abstract
  5. Derman, D. P., Bothwell, T. H., Torrance, J. D., Bezwoda, W. R., MacPhail, A. P., Kew, M. C., Sayers, M. H., Disler, P. B., and Charlton, R. W. Iron absorption from maize (Zea mays) and sorghum (Sorghum vulgare) beer. Br.J.Nutr. 1980;43(2):271-279. View Abstract
  6. Gaffa, T., Jideani, I. A., and Nkama, I. Traditional production, consumption and storage of Kunu–a non alcoholic cereal beverage. Plant.Foods Hum.Nutr 2002;57(1):73-81. View Abstract
  7. Gillooly, M., Bothwell, T. H., Charlton, R. W., Torrance, J. D., Bezwoda, W. R., MacPhail, A. P., Derman, D. P., Novelli, L., Morrall, P., and Mayet, F. Factors affecting the absorption of iron from cereals. Br.J Nutr 1984;51(1):37-46. View Abstract
  8. Gustafson, G. L. and Gander, J. E. Uridine diphosphate glucose pyrophosphorylase from Sorghum vulgare. Purification and kinetic properties. J Biol.Chem. 3-10-1972;247(5):1387-1397. View Abstract
  9. Hemalatha, S., Platel, K., and Srinivasan, K. Influence of heat processing on the bioaccessibility of zinc and iron from cereals and pulses consumed in India. J Trace Elem.Med Biol. 2007;21(1):1-7. View Abstract
  10. Hirel B and Gadal P. Glutamine synthetase isoforms in leaves of a C<sub>4</sub> plant: SORGHUM vulgare. Physiologia Plantarum 1982;54(1):69-74
  11. Jayaraj, A. P., Tovey, F. I., and Clark, C. G. Possible dietary protective factors in relation to the distribution of duodenal ulcer in India and Bangladesh. Gut 1980;21(12):1068-1076. View Abstract
  12. Kumar A. Chemical examination of SORGHUM vulgare roots. Q.J.Crude Drug Res 1978;16:119-120
  13. Pawar SS. Allergen-specific immunotherapy in SORGHUM vulgare (Jawar) pollen-induced allergic bronchial asthma [Abstract] 2003. The Cochrane Library 2009;(2)
  14. Rengasamy, A., Selvam, R., and Gnanam, A. Isolation and properties of an acid phosphatase from thylakoid membranes of Sorghum vulgare. Arch Biochem.Biophys. 1981;209(1):230-236. View Abstract
  15. Tuna, E. and Bressani, R. [Chemical composition of 11 varieties of sorghum (Sorghum vulgare) before and after popping the kernels]. Arch Latinoam.Nutr 1992;42(3):291-300. View Abstract

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.