- Family Liliaceae
- Ruscus aculeatus
- Kneeholm, Pettigree, Sweet Broom, Knee Holly, Jew’s Myrtle, Box Holly
- Do not take if suffering from high blood pressure.
Indigenous to almost all of Europe, western Asia, and North Africa, the plant is a bushy evergreen perennial, growing to three feet with leaflike, leathery branches having a terminal spine, greenish white flowers, and shiny red berries. A member of the lily family, it is similar to asparagus; and the young shoots are sometimes eaten as a vegetable. It is a protected species, in some areas, growing wild in woodland and on uncultivated ground. Cultivated plants are gathered in autumn when in fruit.
It was widely used in antiquity and was described by the 1st century Greek physician, Dioscorides, as having the ability to promote urine flow and menstrual bleeding. He also considered the herb useful in treating bladder stones, jaundice, and headaches.
The plant's name comes from its use as a sweeper in European butcher shops right up to the 20th century.
- mild laxative
- saponin glycosides (including ruscogenin and neoruscogenin)
- Roots, young aerial parts
- Ruscogenin and neoruscogenin have a structure similar to that of diosgenin, found in wild yam. They are anti-inflammatory and cause the contraction of blood vessels, especially veins.
Although not much used today, it bears a second look as it has such positive effects on varicose veins, hemorrhoids, atherosclerosis, and reduced venous circulation in the legs.
Both the aerial parts and the rhizome are considered good diuretics and being mildly laxative.