What Is Butcher's Broom?

Some use this herb for chronic venous insufficiency

Butcher's broom (Ruscus aculeatus) is an herb sourced from a small evergreen shrub found in Europe and North Africa. Its supplement form is made from the root of the plant and is used for a variety of purported health benefits, the main one being chronic venous insufficiency.

In some areas of the world, Butcher's broom roots are eaten like asparagus.

butcher's broom
Verywell / Gary Ferster

What Is Butcher's Broom Used For?

Chronic venous insufficiency is a condition in which the veins do not efficiently return blood from the legs to the heart, resulting in blood "pooling" in leg veins. The condition results from partial vein blockage or blood leakage around the valves of the veins.

Butcher's broom is used to treat chronic venous insufficiency because it is thought to help stimulate circulation.

For this same reason, the herb is sometimes used for the following health issues:

  • Varicose veins
  • Ankle swelling
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Nighttime leg cramping
  • Swelling of the legs

Butcher's broom is rich in flavonoids, antioxidants that strengthen blood vessels and reduce the fragility of capillaries. The herb contains substances that appear to stimulate receptors in the body known as alpha-adrenergic receptors, which cause veins to constrict.

Although research on the use of butcher's broom alone is very limited, some studies have examined butcher's broom as a key ingredient in a formulation combined with hesperidin and ascorbic acid (a form of vitamin C).

In a 2017 study published in International Angiology, for example, researchers analyzed 10 previously published studies on the use of Ruscus aculeatus extract in people with chronic venous disorders. The study's authors found that it reduced leg pain, heaviness, feeling of swelling, and other symptoms compared to a placebo.

Although butcher's broom shows promise in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency, more research needs to be conducted before it can be recommended as a treatment for this (or any other) condition.

Possible Side Effects

Butcher's broom may trigger mild side effects, such as upset stomach and diarrhea. According to a case report, a woman developed diabetic ketoacidosis five days after beginning treatment with butcher's broom for mild ankle swelling.

If you're considering using butcher's broom supplements, be sure to speak to your healthcare provider first to discuss whether they are appropriate and safe for you. Self-treating chronic venous insufficiency and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women and children shouldn't take butcher's broom.

Dosage and Preparation

There is not enough scientific data to provide a recommended dose of butcher's broom. Various doses have been studied in clinical trials.

For example, in a study examining butcher's broom's effect on chronic venous insufficiency, 150 milligrams (mg) of butcher’s broom root extract combined with 150 mg of hesperidin and 100 mg of ascorbic acid was used twice daily.

The appropriate dose for you may depend on factors including your age, sex, and medical history. Speak to your healthcare provider to get personalized advice.

What to Look For

Available for purchase online, butcher's broom supplements are sold in many natural-food stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.

You may see the raw root, liquid extracts, tablets, or capsules. Sometimes, the supplements contain a combination of butcher's broom and other ingredients.

If you choose to buy a supplement, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that you look for a Supplement Facts label on the product that you buy. This label will contain vital information including the amount of active ingredient(s) per serving, and other added ingredients like fillers, binders, and flavorings.

Lastly, the organization suggests that you look for a product that contains a seal of approval from a third party organization that provides quality testing. These organizations include U.S. Pharmacopeia, ConsumerLab, and NSF International.

Certification from one of these organizations does not guarantee the product's safety or effectiveness, but it does provide assurance that the product was properly manufactured, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.

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5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cleveland Clinic. Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) treatment options. Updated 2019.

  2. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Butcher's broom. September 11, 2015

  3. Kakkos SK, Allaert FA. Efficacy of Ruscus extract, HMC and vitamin C, constituents of Cyclo 3 fort®, on improving individual venous symptoms and edema: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trialsInt Angiol. 2017;36(2):93-106. doi:10.23736/S0392-9590.17.03815-9

  4. Sadarmin PP, Timperley J. An unusual case of butcher’s broom precipitating diabetic ketoacidosis. J Emerg Med. 2013 Sep;45(3):e63-5. doi:10.1016/j.jemermed.2012.11.087

  5. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. What you need to know. Updated 2020.

Additional Reading
  • Butcher's Broom. Natural Medicines Database. Professional Monograph. 2019.