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Ruscus aculeatus

Ruscus aculeatus is a low evergreen Eurasian shrub, with flat shoots known as cladodes that give the appearance of stiff, spine-tipped leaves. Small greenish flowers appear in spring, and are borne singly in the centre of the cladodes. The female flowers are followed by a red berry, and the seeds are bird-distributed, but the plant also spreads vegetatively by means of rhizomes. Ruscus aculeatus occurs in woodlands and hedgerows, where it is tolerant of deep shade, and also on coastal cliffs. It is also widely planted in gardens, and has spread as a garden escape in many areas outside its native range.

Ruscus aculeatus with fruit
Botanical illustration

Common names

  • Butcher's Broom
  • Kneeholy, Knee Holly, Kneeholm
  • Jew's Myrtle
  • Sweet Broom
  • Pettigree

Medicinal Uses

Butcher's broom has been known to enhance blood flow to the brain, legs, and hands. It has been used to relieve constipation and water retention and improve circulation. Since Butcher's broom tightens blood vessels and capillaries, it is used to treat a common condition known as varicose veins (Bouskela , Cyrino, and Marcelon).

It is also used for hemorrhoids.[1] The herb was been tested for hemorrhoids in a 1999 open-label (not blinded) clinical trial and showed statistically significant positive results.[2] It also showed reduction in venous insufficiency in two other studies. It was approved by the German Commission E guidelines for hemorrhoids treatment[2] It is occasionally prescribed for varicose veins which can be a complication of pregnancy. However, since it is classified as a natural product, there is no evidence or trials to suggest complete safety for the fetus. A qualified healthcare practitioner should be consulted prior to using this compound during pregnancy.

References

  1. ^ MacKay D (April 2001). "Hemorrhoids and varicose veins: a review of treatment options". Altern Med Rev 6 (2): 126–40. PMID 11302778. http://www.thorne.com/altmedrev/.fulltext/6/2/126.pdf. 
  2. ^ a b Abascal K, Yarnell E. (2005). Botanical Treatments for Hemorrhoids. Alternative & Complementary Therapies.


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