Butcher’s Broom is a popular herbal supplement and is derived from the roots of the plant. Butcher’s broom is botanically known as Ruscus aculeatus, and is a small evergreen Eurasian shrub. This herb is predominantly found in Europe, Asia and Northern Africa.
What is Butcher’s Broom?
Butcher’s broom is mainly found in woodlands, coastal cliffs and hedgerows. The plant is also extensively grown in gardens and is a part of the lily family. The herb is extracted from the dried rhizome and roots of the plant. The shrub has small green colored flowers with red berries and they bloom only during the spring time.
The stem of the shrub is predominantly leafless and heavily branched. The plant grows to about 3 to 10 feet in height. The herb is also known by other common names such as – Knee Holly, Jew’s Myrtle, Pettigree, Kneeholm, Sweet Broom, Thorny Fragon, Balai du Boucher, Rusco, Fragon, Petit Houx etc.
How Does It Work?
The primary compounds found in the herb are called steroidal saponins and include – ruscine, ruscogenin and aglycones neoruscogenin. Apart from these, the herb also has the following components – flavonoids, Benzofuranes, Tyramine, Glycolic acid, Tetracosanoic acid, Coumarins, campesterol, Sitosterol, niacin, Chrysophanic acid etc. The following trace minerals can also be seen in the herb – iron, zinc, chromium, manganese, silicon and cobalt.
Benefits Of Using Butcher’s Broom
Butcher’s broom has been extensively studied in many animal and in-vitro clinical tests. The herb has anti-inflammatory and anti-phlogistic effects. It is also used as an effective diuretic. The herb is predominantly used to treat circulatory disorders and disorders related to the legs. The benefits of using this herb include the following:
To Treat Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Butcher’s broom is used to treat circulatory problems of the legs and related symptoms like pain, cramps, swelling and heaviness. The herb is specifically used to treat chronic venous insufficiency.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency is a disorder of the veins where blood is not properly transported back from the legs to the heart. Chronic Venous Insufficiency gives rise to future problems of the legs like varicose veins and night time leg cramping. In chronic venous insufficiency, the veins get partially blocked and sometimes lead to blood leakages from the valves of the veins.
Symptoms of Chronic Venous Insufficiency include the following – cramping of the legs, itching, tingling sensation, swelling and intense pain while standing (and reduced pain when legs are raised). Chronic venous insufficiency can be treated by the following – surgery, by making lifestyle changes and by constantly wearing tight surgical stockings.
However, using Butcher’s broom extracts many people have seen positive changes to their existing medical condition. A 2002 study conducted and published in Germany showed that butcher’s broom can be used to safely treat chronic venous insufficiency. The study showed that the herb reduced some of the symptoms like – heaviness of the legs, tingling sensation etc. Another study conducted in the year 2007 showed that butcher’s broom along with hesperidin and ascorbic acid significantly reduced some of the symptoms of Chronic Venous Insufficiency.
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 over weight. 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.
To Treat Hemorrhoids
In another related study conducted in 1999 Butcher’s broom was effectively used to treat hemorrhoids and its symptoms such as itching and burning. The herb is approved by the German Commission E for treating hemorrhoids. The herb is sometimes applied externally to the anus along with Witch Hazel.
To Treat Edema Of The legs
Another usage of Butcher’s Broom is 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.
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. A 1999 study 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.
For treating venous disease, a dosage level containing 150 mg of butcher’s broom, 150 mg of hesperidin and 100 mg of ascorbic acid when taken twice daily is said to be effective. Individuals can also use supplements of butcher’s broom (less than 500 mg tablet) daily with food. The herb is also available in the market in the form of herbal tea.
Side Effects & Other Considerations
Side effects may include stomach upset, loose bowel movements and nausea. The herb should be avoided in pregnant women, lactating mothers and those with high BP.
Butcher’s broom has a chemical known as Sparteine that has anti-arrhythmic effect on the body. One can also find traces of Coumarins in the herb that are known as natural anticoagulants. The ruscogenin and neo-ruscogenin compounds in the herb show favorable anti-inflammatory effect on human legs.
Traditionally, the herb was used in folk medicine to treat a variety of ailments like edema, vascular disease, jaundice and hemorrhoids. Butcher’s broom is mainly administered orally and sometimes applied externally to the skin as a topical cream. Butcher’s broom has many chemicals in it that make the blood vessels to contract and avoid the blood to pool in the veins.
Avoid the herb with the following medications – Alpha-adrenergic antagonists (high BP drugs) and MAO (monoamine oxidase) inhibitors (for depression).