Habitat & Cultivation : Butcher’s broom, a protected species, is prevalent across much of Europe, western Asia, and North Africa. It is commonly found growing in the wild in woodlands and on uncultivated ground. The cultivated plants are typically harvested in the autumn when they are in fruit.
Parts Used : Aerial parts, rhizome.
Constituents : Butcher’s broom contains saponin glycosides, notably ruscogenin and neoruscogenin. These constituents share a structural similarity with diosgenin, which is present in wild yam. Known for their anti-inflammatory properties, these compounds induce the contraction of blood vessels, particularly veins.
History & Folklore : Widely utilized in antiquity, butcher’s broom was documented by the 1st-century CE Greek physician Dioscorides for its capacity to stimulate urine flow and menstrual bleeding. The plant derives its name from its historical use as a broom in butchers’ shops across Europe, a practice that persisted until the 20th century.
Medicinal Actions & Uses : While less utilized in Anglo-American herbal medicine, butcher’s broom has gained popularity as a common remedy in Germany for venous issues. Research has demonstrated its direct positive impact on conditions like varicose veins and hemorrhoids by preventing excessive tension in the veins and facilitating the return of excess fluid into the veins. Extracts of butcher’s broom can be consumed orally or applied topically to affected legs.
Research : An increasing body of research is highlighting the therapeutic value of butcher’s broom for venous disorders. In a clinical trial, participants with varicose veins, who applied a butcher’s broom extract to their legs, exhibited a significant contraction of 1.25 mm in their femoral artery within 2½ hours. A study published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2000 recognizes butcher’s broom as having substantial potential as a medicine for orthostatic hypotension, a specific form of low blood pressure.