Butcher’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, in many ways, to asparagus. The roots and young stems of butcher’s broom are used medicinally.
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3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
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1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Standardized extract providing 15 to 30 mg ruscogenins three times per day
Butcher’s broom is a traditional remedy for CVI that has been backed up by clinical trials.
Another traditional remedy for CVI is butcher’s broom. One double-blind trial used a combination of butcher’s broom, the flavonoid hesperidin, and vitamin C. This was found to be better than a placebo for treating CVI.2 In a comparison study, a product combining butcher’s broom extract, the flavonoid hesperidin, and vitamin C was more effective than a synthetic flavonoid product for treating CVI.3 A double-blind study, in which Butcher's broom alone was used, has confirmed the beneficial effect of this herb.4 Clinical trials have used one capsule, containing standardized extracts providing 15 to 30 mg of ruscogenins, three times each day. The amount of butcher’s broom extract used in these trials is 150 mg two times per day. Other sources recommend standardized extracts providing 15 to 30 mg of ruscogenins, given three times each day.
Refer to label instructions
Butcher’s broom exerts effects that protect arteries.
Refer to label instructions
Supplementing with butcher’s broom may be helpful for varicose veins.
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
Steroidal saponins are thought to be responsible for the medicinal actions of butcher’s broom.8 These constituents are reported to improve the strength and tone of the veins and act as mild diuretics. They may also lead to constriction of the veins, which helps blood return from the extremities.9 , 10 Butcher’s broom extracts also exert a mild anti-inflammatory effect.
Clinical trials, one double-blind, have confirmed the benefit of a combination of vitamin C, flavonoids, and butcher’s broom for treatment of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).11 , 12 In a comparison study, a product combining butcher’s broom extract, the flavonoid hesperidin, and vitamin C was more effective than a synthetic flavonoid product for treating CVI.13 A double-blind study, in which Butcher’s broom alone was used, has confirmed the beneficial effect of this herb in the treatment of CVI.14
Encapsulated butcher’s broom extracts, in the amount of 1,000 mg three times per day, can be used for chronic venous insufficiency. These extracts are often combined with vitamin C and/or flavonoids. Standardized extracts (9–11% ruscogenins) can be taken in the amount of 100 mg three times per day.
Side effects are rarely seen if butcher’s broom is used as directed. However, in certain cases, butcher’s broom can cause nausea.15
1. Grieve M. A Modern Herbal, vol I. New York: Dover Publications, 1971, 128–9.
2. Cappelli R, Nicora M, Di Perri T. Use of extract of Ruscus aculeatus in venous disease in the lower limbs. Drugs Exp Clin Res 1988;14:277–83.
3. Beltramino R, Penenory A, Buceta AM. An open-label, randomized multicenter study comparing the efficacy and safety of Cyclo 3 Fort® versus hydroxyethyl rutoside in chronic venous lymphatic insufficiency. Angiology 2000;51:535–44.
4. Vanscheidt W, Jost V, Wolna P, et al. Efficacy and safety of a Butcher's broom preparation (Ruscus aculeatus L. extract) compared to placebo in patients suffering from chronic venous insufficiency. Arzneimittelforschung2002;52:243–50.
5. Felix W, Schmidt Y, Nieberle J. Protective effect of Ruscus extract against injury of vascular endothelium and vascular smooth muscle caused by ethracrynic acid. Int Angiol 1983;3:77.
6. Capelli R, Nicora M, Di Perri T. Use of extract of Ruscus aculeatus in venous disease in the lower limbs. Drugs Exp Clin Res 1988;14:277–83.
7. Brinkhaus B, Linder M, Schuppan D, Hahn EG. Chemical, pharmacological and clinical profile of the East Asian medical plant Centella asiatica. Phytomed 2000;7:427–48.
8. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum, 1988, 117–8.
9. Bouskela E, Cyrino FZ, Marcelon G. Inhibitory effect of the Ruscus extract and of the flavonoid hesperidine methylchalcone on increased microvascular permeability induced by various agents in the hamster cheek pouch. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol 1993;22:225–30.
10. Bouskela E, Cyrino FZ, Marcelon G. Effects of Ruscus extract on the internal diameter of arterioles and venules of the hamster cheek pouch microcirculation. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol 1993;22:221–4.
11. Boccalon H, Causse C, Yubero L. Comparative efficacy of a single daily dose of two capsules of Cyclo 3 Fort in the morning versus a repeated dose of one capsule morning and evening. A one month study. Int Angiol 1998;155–60.
12. Capelli R, Nicora M, Di Perri T. Use of extract of Ruscus aculeatus in venous disease in the lower limbs. Drugs Exp Clin Res 1988;14:277–83.
13. Beltramino R, Penenory A, Buceta AM. An open-label, randomized multicenter study comparing the efficacy and safety of Cyclo 3 Fort® versus hydroxyethyl rutoside in chronic venous lymphatic insufficiency. Angiology 2000;51:535–44.
14. Vanscheidt W, Jost V, Wolna P, et al. Efficacy and safety of a Butcher's broom preparation (Ruscus aculeatus L. extract) compared to placebo in patients suffering from chronic venous insufficiency. Arzneimittelforschung2002;52:243–50.
15. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 99–100.
Last Review: 05-01-2013
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