2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

Butcher’s Broom

What Is It?

The stiff spines of butcher’s broom, an evergreen bush (Ruscus aculeatus) native to the Mediterranean region, were once popular for making brooms (hence the herb’s name). For centuries, people also consumed this herb, which is closely related to asparagus, as a vegetable.

Long famed as a folk medicine, butcher’s broom was also used for years in Europe for treating constipation, kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and various gastrointestinal problems. Typically, the fleshy root of the plant was boiled and drunk as a tea.

During the twentieth century the plant’s use as a folk remedy began to fade until reports from France in the 1950s changed the thinking about this ancient herb. Investigators there found that dogs and hamsters treated with an extract of the plant’s underground stem experienced a narrowing of their blood vessels. Because this kind of action in the body has important implications for treating vessel diseases, butcher’s broom is today used to treat such conditions as varicose veins and hemorrhoids.

Also known as box holly, knee holly, and pettigree, butcher’s broom now grows in many parts of the world, including the southern United States. The dried root and rootstock are used in medicinal preparations.

Health Benefits

The narrowing of vessels observed in small animal studies of butcher’s broom was eventually attributed to steroidlike compounds called ruscogenins and neuroscogenins in the plant’s rootstock. These compounds not only constrict veins, strengthening and toning them, but also lessen inflammation.

Today, over-the-counter butcher’s broom formulas for hemorrhoids and varicose veins sell quite well in Europe and are becoming better known in the United States.

Specifically, butcher’s broom may help to:

Treat varicose veins. The vein-narrowing qualities of butcher’s broom have been found to actually relieve the discomforts of varicose veins and other circulatory conditions (such as chronic venous insufficiency). Not only does leg pain resulting from insufficient circulation in lower limb veins often respond to treatment with butcher’s broom, but related symptoms (swelling, itching, numbness, cramping, and a sensation of heaviness) may subside as well. Several studies have demonstrated the herb’s ability to do this. One study looked at 40 patients with chronic venous insufficiency in their lower limbs (a condition closely related to varicose veins). Researchers reported that those who took butcher’s broom for two months (along with vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid, as well as hesperidin, a flavonoid) had an improvement in their symptoms; those who took a placebo (dummy pill) reported no improvement at all.

The FDA has not approved of butcher’s broom for circulation problems. However, German health authorities consider it valuable for lessening the itching, swelling, pain, and heaviness that can result from poor circulation in the lower body.

Relieve hemorrhoids. Rectal suppositories and topical ointments made from butcher’s broom are useful when dabbed onto itchy and painful hemorrhoids. The burning sensation often associated with hemorrhoids–actually vessels that have bulged out–may subside as well.

Forms

tablet
suppository
ointment
liquid
capsule

Dosage Information

For hemorrhoids: Take 300 mg twice a day or 1 teaspoon liquid extract twice a day. You can also apply the liquid extract to a cotton ball and gently dab the affected area three times a day until the hemorrhoid recedes.

For varicose veins: Take 150 mg three times a day.

Guidelines for Use

Try taking butcher’s broom along with vitamin C to boost its effectiveness; several studies have shown that the combination increases the herb’s potency.

General Interaction

No reports of adverse interactions have been noted. In theory, however, butcher’s broom could interfere with the effectiveness of certain high blood pressure medications, such as doxazosin and prazosin. The same is true for various medications used in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Consult your doctor for guidance.

Combining MAO inhibitors with butcher’s broom poses a potential risk of increased blood pressure. Consult your doctor for specific advice.

Possible Side Effects

While no reports of toxic reactions have been reported, the safety of butcher’s broom has not been carefully examined.

Given its apparent ability to constrict vessels, people with high blood pressure or prostate problems should use the herb with caution.

Cautions

The kinds of circulation problems popularly treated with butcher’s broom can be serious. Consult your doctor before using this herb for anything other than hemorrhoids.

Ailments-Dosage
Hemorrhoids 300 mg twice a day or 1 tsp. liquid extract twice a day
Varicose Veins 150 mg 3 times a day

For product recommendations and orders from the Natural Apothecary click here or call 773-296-6700, ext. 2001.


Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our

patient-portal

The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

Upcoming Workshops


**Winter Solstice Celebration: An evening of Acupuncture and Shamanic Healing
Tuesday, December 17, 5:45–7:30pm
Hosted by Katie Oberlin, HTCP and Mari Stecker, LAc

Course Fee: $75.00

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to enter the stillpoint of the Winter Solstice, reflect on the lessons of 2019, and set intentions for the new year. This will be an evening of individual and group healing, ceremony, and celebration. More →

Recent Health Tips

  • Infertility Issues? Start With The Guy

    I’ve lost track of the number of couples we treat at WholeHealth Chicago who are involved in one of the hormone injection/surgical procedure stops on the conveyor belt of infertility centers. Currently, it’s estimated that 15 to 20 percent of couples are struggling with infertility, half of them due to male factors. The infertility docs are nice enough and certainly well-meaning, but I note a Read More

  • Issues with Endocrinologists: Thyroid Approaches and Big Pharma

    My beefs with endocrinologists pretty much center on how they manage thyroid gland concerns, though they rarely win prizes for managing adrenal issues either. I don’t know any endocrinologists personally and rarely refer my patients to them. Occasionally, a patient with newly diagnosed hypothyroidism (low thyroid) will want to confirm the diagnosis with an endocrinologist. I suggest she prepare for a scolding if she’s taking Read More

  • Six Beefs With Rheumatologists

    If you find yourself in the waiting room of a rheumatologist, you’re likely there because your joints hurt and have been hurting, often for years. You’ve been getting by on aspirin or Advil for the pain, but with things worsening your primary care doctor suggests you should see a joint specialist, a rheumatologist. And because there’s a shortage of physicians in this specialty, your appointment Read More

Join our Discount Program!

Member benefits include 10% off all your purchases. Low, one-time membership fee of $25 ($35 for family).

MORE INFORMATION