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Horse Chestnut

Veterinarian Reviewed on June 20, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized

Horse Chestnut Extract


Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) is also known as simply horse chestnut, and as Buckeye and Spanish chestnut. Almost all of the part of the horse chestnut plant is used for medicine such as its chestnut seeds, bark, leaves and flowers, however it is its extract that has been proven to contain the most potent herbal remedy to treat diseases of the cardiovascular system.

The horse chestnut extract is known to contain 16 to 20% aescin or escin which is perfect for treating conditions of the cardiovascular system.

History and Origin

Horse chestnut extract is known to contain natural properties to support healthy blood circulation and to reduce symptoms of various circulatory problems and concerns. It is however important to note that raw or poorly processed horse chestnut seeds, leaves and bark may be poisonous since they also contain esculin.

Ancient Uses

The horse chestnut plant is used by native tribes as an effective treatment for varicose veins, chronic venous insufficiency and many conditions that cause swelling and pain of the lower extremities in humans. This plant is native to the Balkan Peninsula and ancient tribes of this region may have also used this plant to relieve hemorrhoids and nighttime leg cramping.

Modern Uses

During the modern times, horse chestnut extract is used basically for its property to improve the health of the circulatory system. Its active ingredient, 20% escin, is useful in reducing symptoms of venous insufficiency in the lower extremities.

Much of the ancient uses of the horse chestnut extract are the same as its modern uses today. It is also used to treat varicose veins; in fact, medical experts compare the effectiveness of this herbal extract to wearing compression stockings on a regular basis.
Horse chestnut extracts may also relieve leg cramps, ankle swelling, heaviness of the lower extremities and itching caused by a decreased blood flow to and through the lower half of the legs. The extracts are also seen as a promising treatment for hemorrhoids. It can significantly improve blood flow to the anal area reducing the pain, swelling and the inflammation of internal and external hemorrhoids.
People who have tried horse chestnut extracts have reported improved symptoms of hemorrhoids and have better blood circulation on the lower extremities. It is important though to consult your doctor before using extracts of this herbal remedy before use to prevent any adverse drug reactions with your current medications.

Side Effects

Horse chestnut extracts are not indicated for use in women who are pregnant and breastfeeding. It is not intended to use for very young children and also not for patients who are immune compromised.
This herbal remedy may cause gastrointestinal upset, itching, nausea and diarrhea. If you develop any of these while using any type of herbal supplement that contains extracts of horse chestnut, you should discontinue using it and refer to a doctor immediately.
As mentioned earlier, never use unprocessed or raw horse chestnut plant parts since these contain esculin which is very poisonous. Always purchase supplements from reputable sources to ensure high quality and well processed horse chestnut parts before use. Always consult your doctor or qualified herbalist if you would like to use this herb for your illness.

Read also: Osteoarthritis

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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