Butcher's broom (Ruscus aculeatus), a medicinal herb native to the Mediterranean and once popular for making brooms, provides several modern medicinal benefits. People have used the herb for centuries, once even consuming it as a vegetable. Today, an extract made with butcher's broom roots and rootstock is the herb's primary claim to fame. Widely used in Europe, butcher's broom has recently gained in popularity in the United States as scientific research has begun to prove the herb's potential for treating a variety of circulatory and inflammatory conditions.
A traditional remedy for varicose veins and other circulatory conditions, butcher's broom has the ability to relive leg pain caused by poor circulation and related symptoms, including swelling, itching, cramping, heaviness, tension and numbness. One study, published in the 2002 edition of the German medical journal “Arzneimittel-Forschung,” examined patients with chronic venous insufficiency, a condition similar to varicose veins. The study found that butcher's broom extract administered for 12 weeks significantly reduced symptoms. A standard dosage for treating circulatory problems consists of taking 150 milligrams of the herb three times a day.
Topical ointments and suppositories made with butcher's broom provide relief when dabbed onto itchy, painful hemorrhoids. Taken internally, the herb also may expedite the healing process. In her book “Prescription for Herbal Healing,” Phyllis A. Balch explains that butcher's broom tightens the dilated blood vessels that form hemorrhoids and relieves the burning and itching associated with the condition. Taking 300 milligrams of the herb twice a day or 1 teaspoon of the liquid extract twice a day is recommended. Additionally, applying liquid butcher's broom extract directly to the affected area provides immediate relief of symptoms.
Butcher's broom may benefit sufferers of various inflammatory conditions, including carpal tunnel syndrome, lymphedema swollen ankles and general swelling in the lower extremities. The herb increases blood flow, promotes circulation, strengthens blood vessels, reduces capillary fragility and prevents pooling of the blood in the legs. These properties give butcher's broom the ability to relieve swollen lymph glands and alleviate swelling in the carpal tunnel of the wrist caused by repetitive motion. A standard dosage for treating inflammation consists of taking 150 to 300 milligrams two to three times a day.
Although most valued for treating circulatory and inflammatory conditions, butcher's broom also has several other medicinal benefits. It is believed to reduce urine retention, which makes it useful in treating bladder infections. Other traditional but unproven benefits of butcher's broom include treating constipation, kidney stones, gastrointestinal disorders, orthostatic hypotension and even symptoms of syphilis, though the herb cannot cure the disease itself.