Butcher’s broom (Ruscus aculeatus) is a small evergreen shrub.

It’s native to Western Europe and has especially tough branches. Historically, butchers would bundle its branches to sweep off their chopping blocks — which is how it got its name.

What’s more, butcher’s broom has been used in herbal medicine for thousands of years.

Its root and rootstock are prized in herbal medicine because they contain various active compounds, including flavonoids and many others (1).

These compounds may be why butcher’s broom is linked to several potential health benefits, such as improved blood circulation and hemorrhoid treatment.

This article examines the benefits and side effects of butcher’s broom.

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Butcher’s broom and its compounds are associated with several potential health benefits.

May Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is your body’s natural way to heal itself and combat infections.

However, chronic inflammation can cause health problems, as it increases your risk of certain diseases (2).

Butcher’s broom contains compounds, such as ruscogenin, that may help suppress inflammatory signals and potentially treat damage caused by inflammation.

For instance, in test-tube studies, ruscogenin reduced inflammation markers and stopped the production of an enzyme which promotes cartilage breakdown in people with osteoarthritis (3, 4).

An animal study noted that ruscogenin reduced inflammation markers associated with diabetes and treated damage caused by such inflammation (5).

However, human studies on butcher’s broom are lacking. More research is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.

May Treat Poor Blood Circulation

Butcher’s broom may treat conditions that affect blood circulation.

For example, it may combat chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a painful condition in which your legs’ veins struggle to deliver blood back to your heart (6).

Several compounds in butcher’s broom help veins contract, allowing blood to return to the heart (7).

In fact, research indicates that butcher’s broom significantly reduces tension and swelling around the lower legs and ankles in adults with CVI (8).

Additionally, an analysis of 20 studies found that a supplement that contained butcher’s broom significantly reduced pain, cramps and swelling in adults with CVI (9).

May Reduce Symptoms of Orthostatic Hypotension

Orthostatic hypotension (OH) — a sudden drop in blood pressure that happens when you stand up too quickly — is a frequent problem in older adults (10).

Common symptoms of OH include lightheadedness, dizziness, weakness and nausea.

Normally, your reflexes counter this effect by constricting blood vessels in your lower body. However, these reflexes appear to weaken with age, which may cause OH.

Because butcher’s broom helps constrict veins, it may prevent mild cases of OH (11).

However, there are no human studies on butcher’s broom and OH. Such research is needed before recommendations can be made.

May Reduce Your Risk of Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are a common health concern, especially among older adults.

To avoid hemorrhoids, many people turn to natural products, such as butcher’s broom.

Butcher’s broom is used in alternative medicine to treat hemorrhoids and other vascular conditions, as it appears to reduce swelling and help veins contract (12).

In one study, 69% of people taking a supplement containing butcher’s broom rated it an effective treatment for hemorrhoids that reduced pain, swelling and other symptoms (13).

However, only a handful of studies examine butcher’s broom as a hemorrhoid treatment, so more research is needed.

Summary Butcher’s broom may help relieve conditions such as CVI, OH, hemorrhoids and chronic inflammation. Keep in mind that more human studies are needed.

Though there are few human studies on butcher’s broom, it appears safe — with little to no side effects (8).

In rare cases, it may cause stomach discomfort, nausea, diarrhea or vomiting (1, 14).

There has been one report of a woman with diabetes developing diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially fatal condition, after taking butcher’s broom. However, it’s unclear if butcher’s broom was the underlying cause (14).

Butcher’s broom does contain saponins, plant compounds that can act as antinutrients. Therefore, butcher’s broom may reduce the absorption of minerals, such as zinc and iron (15).

Butcher’s broom is not recommended for children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as there is little research to support its safety in vulnerable populations.

People taking kidney or blood pressure medication should speak to their doctor before taking butcher’s broom, as it may interact with these medicines.

If you have any concerns about butcher’s broom and your current medication, it’s best to consult with your doctor first.

Summary Butcher’s broom appears safe for most people, though you may want to consult with your doctor if you are taking certain medications or have particular medical conditions.

There is currently no official recommended dose for butcher’s broom.

However, the following doses appear to be most effective in research (1):

  • Dried root: 1.5–3 grams per day
  • Tablets or capsules: 200 mg (of a 4:1 concentrate) 2–3 times per day
  • Liquid extracts and tinctures: 3–6 ml per day of a 1:2 herb-to-liquid ratio liquid extract or 7.5–15 ml per day of a 1:5 herb-to-liquid ratio tincture

Many scientific studies on butcher’s broom use supplements that contain a combination of butcher’s broom, hesperidin methyl chalcone and ascorbic acid.

These capsules often contain 150 mg of dried extract and are taken 2–3 times per day.

Keep in mind that it’s best to follow the directions that come with your supplement.

Summary As there is no recommended dosage for butcher’s broom, the above doses are based on various studies.

Butcher’s broom is an herbal remedy that may relieve symptoms of CVI, OH, hemorrhoids and chronic inflammation.

It appears to be safe and has few side effects.

Still, speak with your doctor before taking it, especially if you're on kidney or blood pressure medications. Dosages may vary by condition.