Health Care Professional Information
Box holly, sweet broom, knee holly, pettigree, jew’s myrtle, thorny fragon
- Circulatory disorders
- Leg cramps
- Promote urination
- Varicose veins
- Steroidal saponins (neoruscogenin ruscogenin)
- Tetracosanoic acid
- Chrysophanic acid
- Sitosterol, campesterol and stigmasterol
- Glycolic acid
Mechanism of Action
Steroidal saponins may be responsible for stimulating the post-junctional alpha-adrenergic receptors of the smooth muscle cells of the vascular wall and produce vasoconstriction. It may also have anti-inflammatory effects and increase lymphatic flow (2). Ruscogenin, one of the major components exerts anti-inflammatory effects (10) possibly by inhibiting TNF-alpha-induced over expression of ICAM-1 both at the mRNA and protein levels. It also suppressed NF-kappaB activation considerably by decreasing NF-kappaB p65 translocation and DNA binding activity (10).
Common: Diarrhea has been frequently reported with the product Cyclo-3, but is less common with use of other formulations of butcher's broom (7).
Literature Summary and Critique
Dosage (Inside MSKCC Only)
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- Blumenthal M, et al. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council; 1998.
- Foster S, et al. Tyler's Honest Herbal: A Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and Related Remedies, 3rd ed. New York: Haworth Herbal Press; 1993.
- Blumenthal M, et al. Herbal Medicine Expanded Commission E Monographs, 1st ed. Austin: American Botanical Council; 2000.
- Vanscheidt W, et al. Efficacy and safety of a Butcher's broom preparation (Ruscus aculeatus L. extract) compared to placebo in patients suffering from chronic venous insufficiency. Arzneimittelforschung 2002;52:243-50.
- Cluzan RV, et al. Treatment of secondary lymphedema of the upper limb with CYCLO 3 FORT. Lymphology 1996 Mar;29(1):29-35.
- Cappelli R, Nicora M, DiPerri T. Use of extract of Ruscus aculeatus in venous disease in the lower limbs. Drugs Exp Clin Res 1988;14(4):277-83.
- Thomas-Anterion C, et al. Unexplained chronic diarrhea, apropos of 4 new cases under Cyclo 3 fort and review of the literature. Rev Med Interne 1993 Apr;14(4):215-7. Review.
- Boyle P, Diehm C, Robertson C. Meta-analysis of clinical trials of Cyclo 3 Fort in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency. Int Angiol. 2003 Sep;22(3):250-62.
- Guex JJ, Enriquez Vega DM, et al. Assessment of quality of life in Mexican patients suffering from chronic venous disorder - impact of oral Ruscus aculeatus-hesperidin-methyl-chalcone-ascorbic acid treatment - 'QUALITY Study'. Phlebology. 2009 Aug;24(4):157-65.
- Huang YL, Kou JP, Ma L, et al. Possible mechanism of the anti-inflammatory activity of ruscogenin: role of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and nuclear factor-kappaB. J Pharmacol Sci. 2008 Oct;108(2):198-205.
Guex JJ, Avril L, Enrici E, et al. Quality of life improvement in Latin American patients suffering from chronic venous disorder using a combination of Ruscus aculeatus and hesperidin methyl-chalcone and ascorbic acid (quality study). Int Angiol. 2010 Dec;29(6):525-32.
How It Works
Bottom Line: Studies show benefit of Butcher's broom in patients with chronic venous insufficiency of the legs.
Butcher's broom contains chemicals called saponins that scientists think cause constriction of arteries and veins. Butcher's broom may also reduce inflammation and increase lymphatic flow, but these effects have not been fully confirmed in humans.
- To treat circulatory disorders such as chronic venous insufficiency
A few clinical trials show that products containing butcher's broom can help improve the symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency, but the long-term safety and effectiveness of these products are not known.
- To treat constipation
No scientific evidence supports this use.
- To treat hemorrhoids
Butcher's broom is known to have effects on veins in general, but it is not known what effect they would have on the swollen veins that cause hemorrhoids.
- To reduce inflammation
There are no data to back this claim.
- To relieve leg cramps
No scientific evidence supports this use.
- To treat lymphedema
One clinical trial showed that Cyclo 3 Fort, a butcher's broom product, reduced lymphedema in women who had undergone therapy for breast cancer. No other evidence supports this use.
- To promote urination
There are no studies to validate this claim.
- To treat varicose veins
Although some clinical trials show that butcher's broom can help improve the symptoms of other disorders of the veins, there is no evidence that this herb can treat varicose veins.
Chronic venous insufficiency
In a randomized controlled trial, 148 women with chronic venous insufficiency were divided into two groups. One group took butcher's broom capsules (total ~75 mg daily), and the other group took a placebo pill. After 12 weeks, women taking butcher's broom had improvements in leg volume, circumference of the lower leg and ankle, symptoms and quality of life compared to the placebo group. There were few side effects. However, this results of this study are not applicable to men with chronic venous insufficiency, nor do they tell us if butcher's broom is safe and effective when taken for longer than three months.
- Diarrhea has been frequently reported with the product Cyclo-3, but is less common with use of other formulations of butcher's broom.
Last updated: July 12, 2012