Butcher’s Broom (Ruscus aculeatus)
Parts used and where grown: ButcherÃ•s broom is a spiny, small-leafed evergreen bush native to the Mediterranean region and Northwest Europe. It is a member of the lily family and is similar to asparagus in many ways. The roots and young stems of butcher’s broom are used medicinally.
In what conditions might butcher’s broom be supportive?
Â¥ chronic venous insufficiency
Â¥ varicose veins
Medicinal Properties: Tops: cathartic, diuretic Seed: cathartic, emetic
Historical or traditional use: Butcher’s broom is so named because the mature branches were bundled and used as brooms by butchers. The young shoots were sometimes eaten as food. Ancient physicians used the roots as a diuretic in the treatment of urinary problems.1
Active constituents: Steroidal molecules called ruscogenin and neoruscogenin are responsible for the medicinal actions of butcher’s broom.2 Similar to diosgenin, found in wild yam, ruscogenins decrease vascular permeability Ã‘which accounts for the anti-inflammatory activity of this herb. Butcher’s broom also causes small veins to constrict.3 4
How much should I take? Ointments and suppositories including butcher’s broom are typically used for hemorrhoids. These are often applied or inserted at night before going to bed. Encapsulated butcher’s broom extracts, often combined with vitamin C or flavonoids, can be used for systemic venous insufficiency in the amount of 1,000 mg three times per day. Alternatively, standardized extracts providing 50-100 mg of ruscogenins per day can be taken.
Uses: For circulatory disorders, gout, leg cramps, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, phlebitis, thrombosis, and jaundice . Good for kidney and bladder. Relieves inflammation. Excellent for dropsy, toothache, ague, acute constipation, swelling of the spleen.
Used with uva-ursi, cleavers, and dandelion makes an excellent remedy for cleansing the kidneys and bladder, and to increase the flow of urine. Makes a good ointment for lice or vermin. A cardiac depressant to quiet an overactive heart. A lymph tonic.
One of the legumes, it also increases available nitrogen in the soil, benefiting plants growing around it, and is a collector of calcium.
Are there any side effects or interactions? There are no significant side effects or problems if butcher’s broom is used in the amounts listed above.
Special United Kingdom Considerations: Butcher’s broom is either not available or may require a prescription. Please check with your nutritionally oriented physician.
Large doses can cause vomiting, purging, weakening heart, lowered nerve strength and low blood pressure. Advanced stages of toxicity can cause complete respiratory collapse. It also speeds up the heartbeat. Large doses have been reported to cause fatal poisoning.
Broom contains alkaloids and hydroxytyramine, and should not be used except under proper medical supervision.
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1. Grieve M. A Modern Herbal, vol I. New York: Dover Publications, 1971, 128-9.
2. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum, 1988, 117-8.
3. Bouskela E, Cyrino FZGA, Marcelon G. Inhibitory effect of the Ruscus extract and of the flavonoid heperidine methylchalcone on increased microvascular permeability induced by various agents in the hamster cheek pouch. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol 1993;22:225-30.
4. Bouskela E, Cyrino FZGA, Marcelon G. Effects of Ruscus extract on the internal diameter of arterioles and venules of the hamster cheek pouch microcirculation. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol 1993;22:221&endash;4.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.