Butcher's Broom

butchers broom, what is butchers broom, Ruscus aculeatus, treatment of syndrome, treatment for stiff neck, treatment for varicose veins, treatment for hemorrhoids, treatment for cramp, treatment for oedema

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.

Parts used

  • Rhizome
  • Knotty rhizomes, grey and ringed with grooves, are dug up in autumn. Once dried, they are ground into powder or made into extracts.
  • They are used in tablets, capsules, drinkable solutions and creams.


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.

Medicinal uses

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.
Butcher's broom is a good remedy for oedema (swelling). German clinical trials published in 2002 foundáthat extracts of butcher's broom reduced lower leg oedema in women who suffered chronic vein problems as a result of poor circulation.

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 associatedáwith premenstrual syndrome and taking oral contraception.
The rhizome is a mild laxative and a cure for cramp. It also has diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties.


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.



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.


  • Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Overdose may cause vomiting and low blood pressure.
  • Do not use if taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (antidepressants), or drugs for high blood pressure or an enlarged prostate gland.
  • No adverse effects have been reported, but it is recommended that you consult your medical herbalist before using.


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