Butcher's broom is a small evergreen shrub that grows throughout Europe and North Africa. Historically, European butchers may have used the leaves and twigs of the Ruscus aculeatus plant to clean and scrub their chopping blocks, hence the name "butcher's broom." The rhizome shoots of butcher's broom may be eaten as food in many cultures. Both the root and the stem are used as part of herbal preparations.
Butcher's broom may have been used for the past 2,000 years for its beneficial effects on the circulatory system. These beneficial effects may include promoting vein narrowing and improving the tone of blood vessel walls. The chemicals found in butcher's broom may attach to and strengthen certain parts of blood vessels, especially collagen, resulting in a tightening of blood vessels, which allows blood to circulate throughout the body and provides greater flexibility to blood vessel walls.
Today, butcher's broom is most frequently used in combination with hesperidin methyl chalcone (150mg) and vitamin C (100mg) in a product known as Cyclo 3 Fort®, which is used to treat certain circulatory diseases, particularly chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).
Butcher's broom has also been studied as a treatment for other diseases and conditions, including varicose veins, secondary lymphedema (swelling due to excess fluid) of the upper arm after breast cancer treatment, and premenstrual syndrome symptoms, and for healing sprains and contusions. However, most of these studies have evaluated butcher's broom herbal combinations, so the effect of butcher's broom alone is still unclear. Further research is required.
Butcher's broom may have been used by the ancient Greeks as a diuretic (an agent that promotes urine) and laxative. Historically, throughout Europe, it may have been used to regulate menstrual periods, to get rid of jaundice and headaches, and to heal broken bones. Butcher's broom has also been used to increase sweating, to treat gout and kidney stones, and to promote improved blood flow.
Aculeoside A, aculeoside B (2), benzofuran euparone, bisdesmosidic spirostanol saponin, box holly, butchers broom, butchers' broom, butchersbroom, campesterol, chrysophanic acid, coumarins, Cyclo 3 Fort®, Fabroven®, Fagorutin Ruscus, flavonoids, FLEBS CREMA®, furanostanol saponins, glycolic acid, Jew's myrtle, kapseln, knechulver, knee holly, kneeholly, kneeholm, Liliaceae, lily family, neoruscogenin, pettigree, Phelbodril®, RAES, Ruscaceae, Rusciaculeate, Rusci aculeati rhizoma, Rusci aculeati rhizome, ruscin, ruscodibenzofuran, ruscogenin, ruscogenin diglycoside, ruscoside, Ruscus aculeatus L. extract, rutin, sitosterol, sparteine, spirostanol saponins, steroidal sapogenins, sterols, stigmasterol, sulfated steroidal saponins, sweet broom, tetracosanoic acid, triterpenes, triterpines, tyramine.
Note: May be confused with Scotch broom flower, Scotch broom herb, or Spanish broom. These are not topics of this monograph.
Selected combination products: Cyclo 3 Fort® and Fabroven®, a combination of root extract of the Ruscus aculeatus plant (150mg per capsule), hesperidin methyl chalcone (150mg), and ascorbic acid (100mg); Phelbodril®, a combination of trimethylhesperidin chalcone, a flavonoid, and Ruscus extract; FLEBS CREMA® (extracts of Ruscus aculeatus and Melilotus officinalis).
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Chronic venous insufficiency (reduced vein function)
Limited studies suggest that butcher's broom in combination with hesperidin methyl chalcone and vitamin C may improve circulation and relieve symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a disorder in which the veins do not pump blood well. However, additional evidence is needed to confirm this effect. Also, the effect of butcher's broom alone is not clear at this time.
Diabetic retinopathy (inflammation of the retina)
According to limited research, butcher's broom may help reduce complications associated with diseases of small blood vessels, including diabetic retinopathy (an inflammatory disorder of the retina). Limited research in humans has found that butcher's broom was more effective in alleviating symptoms of diabetic retinopathy in type 2 diabetic patients when compared to troxerutin. However, additional studies would need to be conducted in order to fully confirm these results.
Limited research suggests that butcher's broom may help reduce edema (buildup of fluid in tissues). In humans, butcher's broom may reduce edema in patients taking calcium antagonist agents for the treatment of high blood pressure. However, more studies are needed to confirm these results.
According to limited research in humans, it has been determined that a commercial preparation of butcher's broom, Cyclo 3 Fort®, may have good or excellent activity in reducing hemorrhoids. Additional studies are needed in order to verify these results. Also, the effect of butcher's broom on hemorrhoids is not clear at this time, since currently available studies have used a combination product.
Lymphedema (swelling from excess fluid)
According to limited research in humans, it has been determined that Cyclo 3 Fort® may decrease lymphedema (swelling due to excess fluid) of the upper arm in patients that had previously undergone treatment for breast cancer. However, additional studies would need to be conducted in order to fully confirm these results.
According to limited research in humans, butcher's broom may be able to relieve the symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), particularly swelling. Limited research has shown that butcher's broom may reduce breast pain and ankle swelling, as well as improve mood in women with premenstrual syndrome. However, more studies are needed to confirm these results.
Soft tissue injuries
Limited evidence suggests that butcher's broom may decrease swelling associated with soft tissue injuries. Limited research indicates that butcher's broom in combination with sweet clover cream may relieve swelling and pain from sprains and contusions. However, the effects of butcher's broom alone are unclear.
Limited evidence suggests that butcher's broom may decrease the appearance of varicose veins by tightening blood vessels. According to limited research, butcher's broom may improve various factors associated with varicose veins. The commercial preparation of butcher's broom, Cyclo 3 Fort®, has been shown to decrease the width of deep veins and to increase blood flow. Additional studies are needed to confirm these results.