Butcher's broom

Last Updated: September 28 2022

An herb more commonly known as Butcher's Broom, ruscus aculeatus is traditionally used for circulation and appears to constrict veins. This is thought to reduce pooling of blood in extremities, and the limited evidence appears to be promising.

Butcher's broom is most often used for


Ruscus aculeatus is an herb commonly referred to as Butcher's Broom due to its hard roots and (supposed) antibacterial properties being traditionally used to clean the cutting boards of butchers. It also holds traditional medicinal uses, which maily focus around improving blood flow in the veins by contracting them. The uses associated with this 'venotropic' action include reducing leg swelling and edema, treating chronic venous insufficiency, and treating or preventing hemhorroids.

The plant itself contains a variety of saponin structures, of which the active ones are not fully elucidated but are thought to be a collection of similar saponins known as the ruscogenins and neoruscogenins. These are present in high levels in the plant's vertical root (rhizome) and tend to be standardized for supplementation.

In regards to the plant's actions, it seems to increase the activity of noradrenaline at the level of the synapse where it contacts veins via acting through its alpha receptors.

Human evidence is limited, as while there is a large amount of evidence and a meta-analysis on a formulation of which contains this herb it is confounded by the inclusion of hesperidin methylchalcone (commonly added to venotropic agents). There are only two human studies using the herb in isolation, and the one investigating the major claim appears to support its traditional usage.

While limited evidence suggests it is effective, advocacy of the supplement is in part limited by a lack of replication with the herb in isolation as well as insufficient safety testing in humans.

What else is Butcher's broom known as?
Note that Butcher's broom is also known as:
  • Butcher's Broom
  • Jew's Myrtle
  • Knee Holly
  • Kneeholm
  • Pettigree
  • Sweet Broom
  • Ruscus Aculeatus
Dosage information

Supplementation of ruscus aculeatus tends to use the rhizome (vertical root above the ground) of the plant, and when using this extract it tends to be at concentrations above 10-fold (10:1) to 20-fold (20:1), in order to concentrate the main bioactives which are the ruscogenins.

In the above extract range, doses of 37.5mg are taken twice daily to total 75mg daily. This equates to approximately 750-1,500mg of the rhizome's unextracted dry weight daily.

There is not enough evidence to suggest whether it is better to take ruscus aculeatus on an empty stomach or with a meal, and while the above dosing appears effective there is not enough evidence to suggest if it is the optimal dosage.

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2.^No authors listedRuscus aculeatus (butcher's broom). MonographAltern Med Rev.(2001 Dec)
4.^Mangas S, Bonfill M, Osuna L, Moyano E, Tortoriello J, Cusido RM, Piñol MT, Palazón JThe effect of methyl jasmonate on triterpene and sterol metabolisms of Centella asiatica, Ruscus aculeatus and Galphimia glauca cultured plantsPhytochemistry.(2006 Sep)
5.^Vlase L, Kiss B, Balica G, Tămas M, Crisan G, Leucuta SEHigh-throughput LC/MS/MS analysis of ruscogenin and neoruscogenin in Ruscus aculeatus LJ AOAC Int.(2009 Jul-Aug)
6.^Mimaki Y, Kuroda M, Kameyama A, Yokosuka A, Sashida YSteroidal saponins from the underground parts of Ruscus aculeatus and their cytostatic activity on HL-60 cellsPhytochemistry.(1998 Jun)
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9.^Dunouau C, Bellé R, Oulad-Ali A, Anton R, David BTriterpenes and sterols from Ruscus aculeatusPlanta Med.(1996 Apr)
11.^Marcelon G, Verbeuren TJ, Lauressergues H, Vanhoutte PMEffect of Ruscus aculeatus on isolated canine cutaneous veinsGen Pharmacol.(1983)
15.^Allaert FA, Hugue C, Cazaubon M, Renaudin JM, Clavel T, Escourrou PCorrelation between improvement in functional signs and plethysmographic parameters during venoactive treatment (Cyclo 3 Fort)Int Angiol.(2011 Jun)
18.^Aguilar Peralta GR, Arévalo Gardoqui J, Llamas Macías FJ, Navarro Ceja VH, Mendoza Cisneros SA, Martínez Macías CGClinical and capillaroscopic evaluation in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency with Ruscus aculeatus, hesperidin methylchalcone and ascorbic acid in venous insufficiency treatment of ambulatory patientsInt Angiol.(2007 Dec)
20.^Vanscheidt W, Jost V, Wolna P, Lücker PW, Müller A, Theurer C, Patz B, Grützner KIEfficacy and safety of a Butcher's broom preparation (Ruscus aculeatus L. extract) compared to placebo in patients suffering from chronic venous insufficiencyArzneimittelforschung.(2002)
21.^Sadarmin PP, Timperley JAn unusual case of Butcher's Broom precipitating diabetic ketoacidosisJ Emerg Med.(2013 Sep)