Butcher's-broom acquired its name because ancient Mediterranean butchers used the scrubby stems and leaves of the tough plant to sweep meat scraps off their cutting boards. Its medicinal use dates to classical Greece, when physicians applied its roots and rhizomes to swellings and prescribed it as a laxative and diuretic. Today herbalists believe its rhizomes have anti-inflammatory properties, and they use it to treat disorders of the veins. Butcher's-broom is an astringent that puckers up the insides of veins. Among its active ingredients are two steroidal components called ruscogenin and neuroscogenin, which appear to narrow blood vessels.
Over the counter:
Butchers-broom is available in dry bulk, capsules, ointment and tincture.
Tea: 2 tsp. powdered root put in 1 1/2 pt boiling water, then simmered slowly in a covered container for about 30 minutes.
Compress: A clean cloth soaked in tea, and applied.
Ointment: Small amounts applied to hemorrhoids until inflammation is cleared.