Circulatory conditions not only produce visible changes in parts of the body, like swelling or spider veins in the legs, but they also cause pain and discomfort. That's why treating these conditions goes beyond the cosmetic to improve quality of life. One herbal remedy growing in popularity for its ability to help with these conditions is butcher's broom.
Butcher's broom is a member of the lily family, resembling an evergreen bush. Also called "box holly," all parts of the plant can be used medicinally. Butcher's broom has been a trusted herbal remedy in Europe for years (it was actually used to sweep floors, hence its name) and has been credited with treating everything from bladder infections to syphilis.
Butcher's broom has anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to help improve circulation and reduce swelling. Taking this herb can help with the uncomfortable symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism as well as carpal tunnel. When it comes to veins, there are three main conditions butcher's broom has been shown to help with:
Chronic Orthostatic Hypotension (OH):
This condition is characterized by a pooling of blood in the limbs, caused by a lack of tone in the veins or vasoconstriction. Individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes, Parkinson's disease or chronic fatigue syndrome are at risk for this condition as well as anyone taking medications that can affect the autonomic nervous system. According to a 2000 study conducted at the American University in Washington, DC and published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, the flavonoids and ruscogenins in butcher's broom caused the vessels to constrict, reducing the collection of blood and protecting the capillaries, endothelium and muscle tissue. Butcher's broom was also shown to strengthen the blood vessels and capillaries for overall improvement in circulatory health.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI):
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an individual is diagnosed with this condition when the legs in the veins are not about to send enough blood back up to the heart. The problem lies in the deeper veins of the legs where the valves are either damaged or absent. As a result, blood collects in these veins and is stagnant. The condition is considered chronic when it occurs for a long period of time due to a partial blockage in the vein or any blood leaking from the valves. Women are more prone to chronic venous insufficiency due to their progesterone levels. Other risk factors include age, height (tall), sitting or standing for long periods of time as part of daily activity like work, pregnancy, obesity and other genetic variables. The legs may feel heavy, tend to cramp and ache or feel tingly or itchy. The legs may also swell, becoming worse when standing and improving when the legs are elevated. One study found women with this chronic condition saw improvement in their symptoms as well as the size of their legs after taking 75 mg of butcher's broom daily in capsule form for 12 weeks.
Varicose veins are enlarged veins that are twisted in appearance due to a buildup of blood, which can be painful. The ankles can also become swollen and discolored as a result of this condition. As discussed on "The Dr. Oz Show," varicose veins can be caused by factors like age, hormones, weak veins or defective valves, as an indication of chronic venous insufficiency. Any drastic or sudden changes, such as pregnancy, can also bring them on. Dr. Mehmet Oz recommended butcher's broom extract to help constrict the blood vessels that can lead to those inflamed spider veins. Butcher's broom helps the blood vessels release the accumulated blood, thus reducing the size and appearance of the veins. Dr. Oz explained that adding a few drops of the extract to any lotion or moisturizing cream and applying twice daily can help with this condition, but it takes time to see results.
If any of these three sound like you, butcher's broom may be your best natural solution. Consult your doctor before taking butcher's broom supplements, especially if you're already on medication for any of these conditions. Anyone taking MAO-I's, warfarin or blood thinners shouldn't take butcher's broom.
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