Facts about Butcher’s Broom

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Facts about Butcher's Broom

Butcher's Broom Quick Facts
Name: Butcher's Broom
Scientific Name: Ruscus aculeatus
Origin Europe and the Mediterranean
Colors Red
Shapes Spherical to oblong, waxy cherry-sized, berries
Taste Sweet, Acrid
Health benefits Beneficial for Venous Disorders, Edema Of The legs, Blood Circulation, Bowel Health, Orthostatic Hypotension, Hemorrhoids, Inflammation and Varicose Veins
Butcher’s broom scientifically known as Ruscus aculeatus, is a member of the lily family with stiff, pointed leaf-like twigs, greenish white flowers and shiny red berries. The plant is native to Europe, the Black Sea area, northern Africa and the Azores. It is known variously as Knee holy, Knee Holly, Knee holm, Jew’s Myrtle, Sweet Broom, Pettigree, Torny fragon, box holly, Balai du Boucher, Rusco, Fragon, Petit Houx, knee holm, knee hull, pettigrue, prickly box, shepherd’s myrtle and wild myrtle. It occurs in woodlands and hedgerows, where it is tolerant of deep shade, and also on coastal cliffs. It is also widely planted in gardens, and has spread as a garden escape in many areas outside its native range. The word “rusci-” means butcher’s-broom-like, and the word “aculeatus” means prickly or thorny. R. aculeatus was given its common name, butcher’s broom, because its stiff twigs were bound together and used by butchers in Europe to keep their cutting boards clean.

Plant Description

Butcher’s broom is a slow growing low evergreen Eurasian shrub that grows about 3 to 5 feet tall. The plant is found growing abundantly on the wastelands, woods, bushy places, woodlands, coastal cliffs and hedgerows. It prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Root or rhizome is collected in autumn. The root is thick, striking deep into the ground. When dry, it is brownish grey, 2 to 4 inches long and 1/3 inch in diameter, having somewhat crowded rings and rounded stem scars on the upper surface and many woody rootlets below. If a transverse section be made, a number of vascular bundles in the central portion are to be seen. The root has no odor, but its taste is sweetish at first and then slightly acrid. The stems are erect, woody and heavily branched.


Leaves are small, brown membranous, triangular to lanceolate, and scale-like. The phylloclade (short shoots spread like leaves) is oblong, stiff, double-rowed, up to 2.5 cm long and terminate in a sharp tip. Actual leaves of this shrub are microscopic. Flowers and fruits are borne on cladophylls. The plant has prickly leaves with a single spine.

Flower & Fruit

Small greenish white flowers are solitary or in a few clusters and grow from the middle of the leaves. They are dioecious. The corolla is deeply divided into 6 segments. In one variety the stamens are fused at the base. In fertile varieties the style is surrounded by a honey gland. The fertile flowers develop into showy, spherical to oblong, waxy cherry-sized, scarlet berries (3/8″ across) which mature from late summer to winter and remains on the tree all winter. Almost all the parts of this plant are used for medicinal purposes but the Butcher’s Broom extract is the most popular natural remedy derived from this hardy shrub. This extract is a diuretic and is also found as an ingredient in many natural remedies for hemorrhoids. This plant is quite similar to the edible asparagus plant.

Health benefits of Butcher’s broom

For centuries Butcher’s Broom had been used to treat a variety of health disorders: ancient improved the healing of the bone fractures, cured dropsy, urinary obstructions, kidney problems, jaundice and gravel with the herb’s remedies. Gout, kidney and bladder stones, as well as chilblains were also effectively reduced with Butcher’s Broom. Listed below are few of the health benefits of using butcher’s broom

1. Venous Disorders

Butcher’s broom herb has a long history of use in treating venous disorders. Its active ingredients are ruscogenins. These compounds have anti-inflammatory and vasoconstrictor effects that are supposed to improve the tone of veins. Butcher’s broom extracts are used extensively (internally and externally) in Europe to treat varicose veins and hemorrhoids.

2. To Treat Edema Of The legs

Butcher’s Broom is quite beneficial for treating lymphedema and edema of the legs. It is said that the herb contains a component known as ruscogenin that has anti-inflammatory effects and is a venous vasoconstrictor. The herb is known to inhibit electrolyte re-absorption in the kidney to stop the process of edema.

3. Poor Circulation/Blood Circulation

Butcher’s broom is a traditional cure for varicose veins as well as other circulatory conditions. It has the ability to ease leg pain caused by poor blood circulation and other related symptoms (including swelling, itching, cramping, heaviness, tension and numbness). Other than poor circulation, irregular heart rhythm and other heart related problems can also be cured with butcher’s broom.

4. Supports Bowel Health

Butcher’s broom tea was useful to support healthy bowel function. Butcher’s broom is known to act as a mild laxative, a substance that encourages healthy bowel movements. This may help to deal with feelings of discomfort resulting from constipation. It is not yet recognized what causes this laxative effect, and research is ongoing in this area.

5. Orthostatic Hypotension

Orthostatic hypotension (also known as postural hypotension) is actually a condition where one’s blood pressure drops when arising from a seated or lying position. Chronic orthostatic hypotension can be a severely devastating disease in the elderly, in people with diabetes, fatigue syndrome, and Parkinson’s disease, and in people who take medications that affect the autonomic nervous system.

Because this herb has venotonic and vasoconstrictive action properties, butcher’s broom shows much promise in relieving symptoms of orthostatic hypotension. However, more research is needed.

6. To Treat Hemorrhoids

In a research conducted in 1999, Butcher’s broom was effectively used to treat hemorrhoids and its symptoms such as itching and burning. The herb is accepted by the German Commission E for treating hemorrhoids. The herb is occasionally applied externally to the anus along with Witch Hazel.

7. Laxative and Mild Diuretic

European doctors have also used butcher’s broom for centuries to treat constipation and rid the body of excess fluid.

8. Inflammation

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. Standard dosage for treating inflammation consists of taking 150 to 300 milligrams two to three times a day.

9. To Treat Varicose Veins

The herb is used orally and in combination with Vitamin C & Hesperidin to treat leg ailments in humans. The usage of Butcher’s broom is promoted by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for treatment against varicose vein under proper medical guidance.

The herb is known to tighten and contract blood vessels and capillaries in the body. Therefore, many clinical studies have shown the effectiveness of butcher’s broom to treat varicose veins. The herb can be used orally or can be applied topically to treat varicose veins. Varicose veins usually develop as a complication of pregnancy and overweight. However, pregnant women should not take this herb without consulting their doctors as there are no trials conducted to see the safety of the herb on the fetus.

10. Other Benefits

Apart from the above benefits, Butcher’s broom also acts as a mild laxative and is diuretic in nature. Probably because of these effects the herb was traditionally used to treat jaundice, bladder stones, gout, gall stones and kidney problems. Research shows that the herb also helps in treating postural hypotension without increasing supine BP. Some say the herb can be used to fasten the healing of fractures and also can treat atherosclerosis.

Butcher’s Broom also is used as a cosmetic product to remove makeup (especially eye make-up). The herb treats the following other conditions – bronchial asthma (when combined with green leaf tea), detoxification for snake bites, constipation, Raynaud’s disease, Buerger’s disease etc.

Traditional uses and benefits of Butcher’s broom

  • Butcher’s broom has been known to enhance blood flow to the brain, legs, and hands.
  • It has been used to relieve constipation and water retention and improve circulation.
  • It helps to tightens blood vessels and capillaries so it is used to treat a common condition known as varicose veins.
  • It also displayed reduction in venous insufficiency.
  • Root is aperient, deobstruent, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic and vasoconstrictor.
  • It has been taken internally in the past in the treatment of jaundice, gout, and kidney and bladder stones.
  • At present time it is used to treat venous insufficiency and hemorrhoids.
  • Leaves and berries were drunk in wine to encourage menstruation, to break up bladder stones, and to cure jaundice and headache.
  • Thick roots and rhizomes are collected in autumn and used medicinally to treat chronic venous insufficiency, edema, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and hemorrhoids and as a diuretic in the treatment of urinary problems.
  • Butcher’s broom is mainly popular in France for preventing post-operative blood clots, thrombosis and phlebitis and has been used by thousands of patients before undergoing surgery.
  • Butcher’s broom may be useful in preventing diabetic retinopathy.
  • Butcher’s broom additionally cleanses the liver and kidneys.
  • It also helps to renew skin cells when applied externally in creams.
  • It has been used to alleviate constipation, improve blood circulation, and to ameliorate water retention discomfort.
  • This medicinal herb is supposed to tighten the veins of the circulatory system and strengthen the walls of capillary vessels.
  • Mildly bitter tea prepared using the herb is being consumed, which is believed to facilitate blood circulation to the limbs and it acts to reduce the phenomenon of blood clotting and post-surgical thrombosis.
  • It acts as an herbal remedy for reducing swelling of the legs, and it seems to be useful in the treatment of phlebitis and natural treatment for varicose veins.
  • Some herbalists recommend the use of butcher´s broom for the treatment and prevention of a variety of ailments such as atherosclerosis and chronic venous insufficiency.
  • When butcher’s broom is applied as a topical ointment, it seems to be effective in easing off the pains and swelling associated with arthritis and rheumatism.
  • Butcher’s Broom herbal extract may ease the swelling and pain of arthritis and rheumatism.
  • It has been used in the treatment of varicose veins, spider veins, sores, hemorrhoids, thrombo-phlebitis, chilblains or swelling brought on by excess water and poor circulation and even blood clots in the legs.
  • It is useful for combating bladder and urinary tract infections and is also thought to enhance the health of the kidneys and bladder.
  • It is also well-known for its ability to treat Meniere’s disease and vertigo.
  • It is thought to ease swollen lymph glands caused by syphilis and may alleviate the pain and swelling in the carpal tunnel of the wrist, caused by repetitive motion.
  • Butcher’s Broom tincture can also increase the blood flow to the brain, legs, feet, and hands.
  • Butcher’s Broom tinctures may also clear the chest from phlegm, thus relieving difficult breathing.
  • It is also an herbal remedy that has been prescribed by health care practitioners to help treat gangrene.
  • It is also beneficial for relieving constipation.
  • It’s great for treating tired eyes and dark circles under the eyes and it can make you look a lot healthier
  • Butcher’s Broom was first used by the ancient Mediterranean people as a cure for circulatory problems such as varicose veins and hypotension.
  • Tissue swelling after radiation treatment can also be treated by taking doses of this herbal remedy.
  • It is also beneficial for swollen ankles which are common for individuals that have diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and those that have also been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • This herbal remedy can treat varicose veins and improve high blood pressure and increased cholesterol levels.

Ayurvedic Health benefits of Butcher’s broom

  • Breast Cancer: Take roots of Butcher’s Broom. Prepare a decoction. Drink half cup twice a day.
  • Jaundice: Prepare a decoction of Butcher’s Broom roots. Have one tsp with one cup of water twice a day.
  • Sore Throat: Boil 1 tbsp of powdered root in half cup of water. Take 2 tbsp mixed with honey. OR Boil one tbsp seeds or flowering tops in a cup of water for 10 minutes. Take one cup per day. A mouthful at a time.
  • Varicose veins: Take out the extract of butcher’s broom. Have one tbsp once a day.
  • Bloody Stools: Have a decoction of Butcher’s Broom leaves.
  • Chronic Venous Insufficiency: Have 2 to 3 fresh young shoots of Butcher’s Broom 3 times a day. This will help to reduce the symptoms of Chronic Venous insufficiency.
  • Varicose Veins: Take 2 tbsp chopped Butcher’s Broom, 1tsp dried ginger, 2 to 3 Ginkgo leaves. Prepare a decoction by adding all these herbs in 3 cups of boiling water. Have one cup once a day.

Culinary Uses

  • Young shoots are used as an asparagus.
  • Roasted seed is a coffee.
  • Typically, the fleshy root of the plant was boiled and drunk as a tea.

Dosage and Administration

The common dose recommended in the clinical trials for the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency is 7–11 mg of ruscogenin.

The flavonoid hesperidin methyl chalcone that is derived from butcher’s broom is used as a marker for standardization in the ruscus extract “Cyclo-3 Fort®”.

The extract dosage of 16 mg a day has been administered for chronic phlebopathy.

If it is applied as a topical cream formulation, 64–96 mg a day is recommended.

Other Facts

  • Mature branches were once bundled and used as brooms by butchers.
  • The plant was once popular for making brooms.
  • It is more effective when used in combination with other circulatory herbs such as cayenne, hawthorn, witch hazel, ginkgo, garlic and especially horse chestnut.


  • Berries are purgative, caution required if used in patients on treatment for high blood pressure.
  • Avoid large doses it may cause Nausea.
  • In rare cases, the consumption of butcher’s broom may cause mild nausea and queasiness.
  • Butcher’s broom does seem to be a generally safe and effective treatment for venous insufficiency and related symptoms, it is important to note that your condition may have serious underlying causes like obesity or blood clots.
  • Pregnant and breast-feeding women and young children are not advised to take supplements that contain the Butcher’s Broom extract.
  • Butcher’s Broom extract is known to cause vomiting, low blood pressure and toxicity when used in large doses.

















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