Butcher’s Broom

General Information

Common Name:

Butcher’s Broom

Latin Name:

Ruscus aculeatus L

Family:

Liliaceae

Other Names:

  • Box holly.
  • Knee holly.
  • Pettigree.

Indications & Historical Uses

Treatment and prevention of:

  • Hemorrhoids, proctitis, anal itching (pruritis ani), anal fissures.
  • Varicose veins, chilblains, venous circulatory disorders.
  • Menstrual problems, PMS.

Contraindications & Precautions

Precautions:
May cause gastritis in susceptible individuals. Extreme caution is to be exercised by patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcers, gastritis and various allergies.

Side Effects:
Susceptible individuals may experience nausea.

Drug Interactions:
None known; however, this herb should probably not be used in conjunction with steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs). (See Caution).

Dosage Information

How Supplied:

Supplied in 150 mg tablets and 300 mg tablets. Some preparations are suitable for external use as a poultice, ointment or suppository.

Dosage:

150 mg to 300 mg per day, to be taken orally. Some preparations of this herb may be used externally as a poultice, ointment or suppository.

Pharmacology

Historically, this herb was used to treat a range of disorders in the following areas:

Proctology (i.e. hemorrhoids, proctitis, pruritus ani (anal itching), anal fissures).

Phlebology (i.e. varicose veins, varices, chilblains, “heavy legs”, surface veins, post-thrombotic syndrome, venous circulatory disorders).

Opthalmology (i.e. diabetic retinopathy, retinal hemorrhages).

Gynecology (i.e. menstrual problems, troubles with taking estrogens, cramps of pregnancy, varicose veins of pregnancy).

Butcher’s Broom contains a mixture of steroidal saponin glycosides, particularly the modified cholesterol derivatives ruscogenin and neuroruscogenin. These saponins are the starting materials used by the body to produce important endogenous steroid compounds. Current research has demonstrated that these compounds have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties (i.e. by reducing the fragility and permeability of capillary walls) and vasoconstrictive properties. They are additionally known to increase venous tone. The herb has therefore been used to treat venous circulatory disorders, hemorrhoidal problems, varicose veins (especially in pregnancy) and for reduction of capillary fragility and prevention of edema in the lower extremities. Other herbal preparations which are known to act as bio-enhancing agents (i.e. help to enhance the biological activity of this herb) are bilberry, centella, ginkgo biloba, ginger root and horse chestnut .

Active Ingredients:

The active ingredients are steroidal saponin glycosides, primarily ruscogenin and neuroruscogenin

Origin

Butcher’s Broom is an evergreen shrub native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the lily family.

Processing

The active ingredients are extracted from the rhizome of this plant with hydro-alcoholic solution, and the active ingredients are then removed from the resulting solution.

Scientific References

Capra, C. (1972) Studio farmacologic e tossicologico di componenti del ruscus aculeatus L. Fitoterapia, 43:99.

Chabanon, R. (1976) Experimentation du Proctolog dans les hemorroides et les fissures anales. Gaz. Med. De France. 83:3013.

Mowrey, D. (1990) Guaranteed Potency Herbs. A Compilation of writings on the subject.

Muller, I. (1973) Deutsche Apotheker Zeitung 113:1370-1375.

Tyler, V.E. (1988) Pharma-cognosy, 9th Ed. Philedelphia, PA: Lea & Febiger.

Tyler, V.E. (1994) The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. Pharmaceutical Products Press.

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