Tell me about...
What is horse chestnut? What is it
Horse chestnut is a tree originally grown in Asia and northern
Greece, but now cultivated in Europe and North America. The
tree produces fruits that are made up of a spiny capsule that
resembles a walnut. Each capsule contains between one and
three seeds, which are known as horse chestnuts. In addition
to the seeds, the leaves and bark of the horse chestnut tree
are used medicinally.
The active ingredient in horse chestnut seeds is aescin,
a substance shown to promote circulation of the blood through
the veins. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory, and has been
shown to reduce swelling and edema following injury, particularly
following surgery or head injuries.
Horse chestnut extracts can be applied either topically or
internally. Double-blind studies have found that oral extracts
can help people with venous insufficiency and varicose veins,
while topical extracts have been beneficial to people with
How much horse chestnut should I
Many practitioners recommend 50-75 mg of a horse chestnut
extract that has been standardized for aescin content. For
tinctures, 1-4ml TID is recommended, although there are some
questions about the amount of aescin that can be absorbed
What forms of horse chestnut are
The most common forms of horse chestnut are extracts, which
can be delivered topically or orally. Tinctures and gels are
What can happen if I take too much
horse chestnut? Are there any interactions I should
be aware of? What precautions should I take?
Internal use of standardized horse chestnut extracts at recommended
amounts is considered generally safe, although there have
been occasional reports of itching, nausea and upset stomach
associated with this product. It should not be taken by patients
suffering from kidney or liver damage, and it should not be
taken while pregnant unless recommended by a doctor.
Topical horse chestnut products may cause an allergic skin
reaction. In addition, certain medications, such as heparin,
warfarin and ticlopidine, may interact with horse chestnut.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Minerals
More You Know About Nutrition
- Chandler RF. Horse chestnut. Canadian
Pharm J Jul/Aug 1993:297,300.
- Diehm C, Trampish HJ, Lange S, Schmidt
C. Comparison of leg compression stocking and oral horse
chestnut seed extract therapy in patients with chronic venous
insufficiency. Lancet 1996;347:2924.
- Dittler MH, Ernst E. Horse chestnut seed
extract for chronic venous insufficiency: a criteria-based
systematic review. Arch Dermatol 1998;134:135660.
- Guillaume M, Padioleau F. Venotonic effect,
vascular protection, anti-inflammatory and free radical
scavenging properties of horse chestnut extract. Arzneim-Forsch
Drug Res 1994;44:2535.
- Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg,
Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers