Ruscus aculeatus Ruscaceae Also called Knee holly.
Found throughout southern England and Wales, butcher's broom is a low woody shrub. Butchers used to sweep their blocks with bundles of its branches, hence its name, The evergreen 'leaves' are not true leaves but a widening of the stem. A tiny white flower appears in the middle of each leaf in spring, followed in autumn by a red, cherry-like berry. Each leaf is tipped with a spike and, because the plant reaches about knee-height, has been nicknamed knee holly.
The active components of butcher's broom are substances known as steroidal saponins. These have beneficial effects on the veins, improving blood circulation, and also possess anti-inflammatory properties.
When taken orally, the saponins in butcher's broom have the effect of contracting superficial blood vessels (the veins near the skin's surface).
Studies on human patients have shown that butcher's broom improves poor circulation in the veins of the lower limbs and reduces haemorrhoids. The plant is therefore recommended as a treatment for stiff, aching legs, varicose veins and piles. It can be combined with other plants that help to protect veins and capillaries, such as witch hazel.
The study authors concluded that this was a safe and effective treatment for this condition. In 1988, Italian researchers reached the same conclusion, also highlighting the plant's beneficial effects on veins in the lower limbs. Butcher's broom can also help to combat vein problems associated with premenstrual syndrome and taking oral contraception.
For internal use
TO TREAT premenstrual syndrome, stiff, aching legs, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, cramp, oedema
CAPSULES (50mg) Take 1 capsule with a large glass of water three times a day at mealtimes.
For external use
TO TREAT stiff, aching legs varicose veins CREAM Massage into the legs, as directed, once a day, starting at the ankles and moving up to the thighs.
IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST CONSULT A DOCTOR
Butcher's broom is very hardy. It thrives in sun and shade and likes a dryish soil. It is grown from seed or by dividing the roots in autumn.
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