Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) is a type of tree that grows throughout the Northern Hemisphere. In herbal and folk medicine, horse chestnut seed, leaves, bark, and flowers have long been used to relieve symptoms, such as swelling and inflammation, and to strengthen blood vessel walls.
Health claims for horse chestnut include the treatment of the following problems:
Horse chestnut contains a compound called aescin, which has been found to produce an anti-inflammatory effect. The unprocessed seeds, leaves, bark, and flowers also contain esculin, which is poisonous and may increase the risk of bleeding. (Aescin is a different compound and is considered to be safe.) Esculin can be removed Properly processing horse chestnut seed extract removes esculin.
What Is Horse Chestnut Used For?
Horse chestnut has been proven effective for people suffering from chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a condition in which the veins don’t efficiently return blood from the legs to the heart and is linked to problems like varicose veins, ankle swelling, and nighttime leg cramping. Very little research has been done on horse chestnut for other conditions.
Possible Side Effects
Horse chestnut extract may produce a number of adverse effects, including itching, nausea, or gastrointestinal problems, muscle aches, and headache.
In order to ensure the safe use of horse chestnut, make sure to consult your physician if you’re considering using the herb to treat CVI or another chronic health condition.
People with kidney or liver disease and bleeding disorders should avoid horse chestnut. Horse chestnut should not be combined with aspirin, Plavix (clopidogrel), Coumadin (warfarin), and other anticoagulant or anti-platelet (blood-thinning) drugs unless under medical supervision as it may increase the effect of these medications.