What is Butcher's Broom used for? A scientific review (2021 update)

What is it?

Butcher's broom is a plant. The root is used to make medicine.

Butcher's broom is commonly taken by mouth for symptoms of poor blood circulation, such as pain, leg cramps, leg swelling, varicose veins, and itching. Butcher's broom is sometimes used by mouth for kidney stones, gallstones, "hardening of the arteries" (atherosclerosis), constipation and many other conditions. But there is no good scientific research to support these other uses.

Some people apply butcher's broom to the skin to reduce hemorrhoids and signs of aging, but there is no good scientific research to support these uses.

In some cultures, the roots of butcher's broom are eaten in much the same way as asparagus.

Is it Effective?

Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The Effectiveness ratings for Butcher's Broom are as follows:
Possibly Effective for...
  • Circulatory problems (chronic venous insufficiency). Some research shows that taking butcher's broom by mouth, alone or in combination with vitamin C and hesperidin, seems to relieve the symptoms of poor circulation in the legs, such as pain, heaviness, cramps, itching, and swelling.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
  • Vision problems caused by diabetes (diabetic retinopathy). Taking butcher's broom extract by mouth for 3 months does not seem to improve vision in people with diabetic retinopathy.
  • Low blood pressure when getting up (orthostatic hypotension). Taking butcher's broom by mouth might stop blood pressure from dropping too low upon standing up.
  • Varicose veins.
  • Swelling of the arms (lymphedema).
  • Constipation.
  • Hemorrhoids.
  • Fluid retention.
  • Broken bones.
  • Circulation diseases.
  • Restless legs syndrome.
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • Reducing the signs of aging.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of butcher's broom for these uses.

How does it work?

The chemicals in butcher's broom might cause the blood vessels to narrow or constrict. Butcher's broom might improve blood circulation in the legs by preventing blood from "pooling" in the veins.

Are there safety concerns?

Butcher's broom is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth for up to 3 months.

It may cause stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and heartburn.

There is INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE about the safety of butcher's broom when applied to the skin. It may cause allergic reactions.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking butcher's broom if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Are there any interactions with medications?

Medications used for high blood pressure (Alpha-adrenergic antagonists)

Interaction Rating = Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk to your health provider.
Butcher's broom might increase blood pressure, which might decrease the effectiveness of some medications used for high blood pressure.

Some of these medications used for high blood pressure include doxazosin (Cardura), prazosin (Minipress), terazosin (Hytrin), and others.

Stimulant Medications (Alpha-adrenergic agonists)

Interaction Rating = Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk to your health provider.
Butcher's broom might increase blood pressure, make the heart beat faster, and stimulate the brain. Stimulant medications have similar effects, and taking them together with butcher's broom might cause too much stimulation. This might make the blood pressure go too high or the heart beat too fast.

Some of these stimulant medications include pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, others), phenylephrine, and others.

Are there any interactions with Herbs and Supplements?

Herbs and supplements with stimulant properties

Butcher's broom might increase blood pressure, make the heart beat faster, and stimulate the brain. Stimulant herbs or supplements can also have these effects on the body. Combining butcher's broom with these products might make the blood pressure go too high or the heart beat too fast. Some of these include bitter orange, bitter yam, coca, country mallow, and ephedra.

Yohimbe

Butcher's broom might cause the blood vessels to narrow or constrict. Yohimbe is an herb that might cause the blood vessels to expand. Combining these two herbs might decrease the effectiveness of both products.

Are there interactions with Foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:
  • For relieving symptoms of poor circulation (chronic venous insufficiency): 150-300 mg of butcher's broom root extract, combined with 150-300 mg of hesperidin and 100-200 mg of vitamin C, two to three times/day. Taking 75 mg of butcher's broom root extract with 75 mg of hesperidin and 50 mg of vitamin C two times/day may also be used. Taking 75 mg of butcher's broom extract per day split in two doses has also been used.

What other names is the product known by?

Balai du Boucher, Box Holly, Fragon, Fragon Épineux, Fragon Faux Houx, Fragon Piquant, Houx Frelon, Jew's Myrtle, Knee Holly, Kneeholly, Kneeholm, Kneeholy, Oxymyrsine pungens, Petit Houx, Pettigree, Stickmyrten, Sweet Broom, Rusci Aculeati, Rusci Aculeati Rhizoma, Rusco, Ruscus aculeatus, Ruscus dumosus, Ruscus flexuosus, Ruscus laxus, Ruscus parasiticus, Ruscus ponticus.

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