Also Known As: Ruscus aculeatus, Butcher's broom root extract, Knee holly, Sweet broom, Box holly, Jew's myrtle.
Butcher's broom is a low-growing common evergreen shrub. It is widely distributed, from Iran to the Mediterranean and the southern United States. The plant develops edible shoots that are similar to asparagus in form. Butcher's broom has tough, erect, striated stems with false thorny leaves. The name of this plant should not be confused with broom (Cytisus scoparius) or Spanish broom.
Butcher’s broom has been recommended in combination with aqueous extracts to adults in France since 1998 for hemorrhoid symptoms and for certain symptoms of chronic insufficiency (i.e. sensation of heavy legs). The 2003 monograph of the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy, the 2001 Commission E Monograph, and the 2007 information from the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (Bfarm) recommend butcher’s broom for similar symptoms.
Poor Circulation of Blood
A traditional remedy for varicose veins and other circulatory conditions, butcher's broom has the ability to relive leg pain caused by poor circulation and related symptoms, including swelling, itching, cramping, heaviness, tension and numbness. One study, published in the 2002 edition of the German medical journal “Arzneimittel-Forschung,” examined patients with chronic venous insufficiency, a condition similar to varicose veins. The study found that butcher's broom extract administered for 12 weeks significantly reduced symptoms. A standard dosage for treating circulatory problems consists of taking 150 milligrams of the herb three times a day.
Topical ointments and suppositories made with butcher's broom provide relief when dabbed onto itchy, painful hemorrhoids. Taken internally, the herb also may expedite the healing process. In her book “Prescription for Herbal Healing,” Phyllis A. Balch explains that butcher's broom tightens the dilated blood vessels that form hemorrhoids and relieves the burning and itching associated with the condition. Taking 300 milligrams of the herb twice a day or 1 teaspoon of the liquid extract twice a day is recommended. Additionally, applying liquid butcher's broom extract directly to the affected area provides immediate relief of symptoms.
Butcher's broom may benefit sufferers of various inflammatory conditions, including carpal tunnel syndrome, lymphedema swollen ankles and general swelling in the lower extremities. The herb increases blood flow, promotes circulation, strengthens blood vessels, reduces capillary fragility and prevents pooling of the blood in the legs. These properties give butcher's broom the ability to relieve swollen lymph glands and alleviate swelling in the carpal tunnel of the wrist caused by repetitive motion. A standard dosage for treating inflammation consists of taking 150 to 300 milligrams two to three times a day.
Butcher’s broom is generally considered a safe herb when taken as a diuretic, though it may cause blood pressure to rise. Those under treatment for hypertension should use this herb under the supervision of a competent health care professional. Those currently taking anticoagulation medications should also check with their physician or health care provider before taking butchers broom to avoid problems.
Researchers have confirmed that extracts of butcher’s broom contain several steroidal saponin compounds that work as vasoconstrictors by activating alpha-adrenergic receptors. The main glycosides in butchers broom are called ruscogenins, which are known to possess anti-inflammatory properties in addition to being vasoconstricive agents. These active ingredients reduce the fragility and permeability of capillaries and constrict the veins. Human clinical trials have supported the extracts effectiveness in treating vascular disorders, as well as its uses as an antiinflammatory agent.
Supplementing with Butcher’s Broom
Although butcher’s broom is largely thought to be safe (and inexpensive), there are two caveats to mention before you add it to your nutritional program. First, problems like chronic venous insufficiency usually have larger, underlying causes such as obesity or a history of blood clots. In such situations, it’s wise to consult and work with your trusted healthcare provider, rather than consult Dr. Internet. Additionally, chronic venous insufficiency and varicose veins can sometimes result from pregnancy, and pregnant women should consult with their healthcare provider before taking butcher’s broom, or any other herbal therapy.