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Herb Information
Name: Horse Chestnut
Biological Name: Aesculus hippocastanum

Hippocastanaceae

Other Names: Buckeye, Spanish chestnut, horse chestnut
Parts Used: seeds, leaves, bark
Active Compounds:  

Extracts of the seeds are the source of a saponin known as aescin, which has been shown to promote circulation through the veins. Aescin promotes normal tone in the walls of the veins, thereby promoting return of blood to the heart. This has made both topical and internal horse chestnut extracts popular in Europe for the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency and varicose veins. 

Aescin also possesses anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to reduce edema (swelling with fluid) following trauma, particularly those following sports injuries, surgery, and head injury. 

A topical aescin preparation is very popular in Europe for the treatment of acute sprains during sporting events. Horse chestnuts also contain flavonoids, sterols, and tannins.

History:

Horse chestnut leaves have been used as a cough remedy and to reduce fevers. They were also believed to reduce pain and inflammation of arthritis and rheumatism. Poultices of the seeds were used topically to treat skin ulcers and skin cancer. 

Other uses include the internal and external application for problems of venous circulation, including varicose veins and hemorrhoids. The topical preparation was also used to treat phlebitis.

Remedies For

Horse chestnut is beneficial in the treatment of:

Chronic venous insufficiency
Edema
Hemorrhoids
Sprains and other injuries
Varicose veins

Utilized extensively in Europe as an anti-inflammatory agent for a variety of conditions, in addition to being used for vascular problems. It is also used for the treatment of varicose veins and inflammatory disorders of the legs.

It also reduced edema. It does this by normalizing the permeability of blood vessel walls.

The leaves of the buckeye plant is believed to be quite effective in the treatment of chest congestions.

Description:

The Horse Chestnut tree is native to Asia and northern Greece, but it is now cultivated in many areas of Europe and North America. The tree produces fruits that are made up of a spiny capsule containing one to three large seeds, known as horse chestnuts. 

The tree grows from 50 to 80 feet high and bears palmately compound leaves with 5 to 7 wedge shaped, serrate, pointed leaflets. White, red, or yellow flowers appear in panicles from May to June. The fruit is prickly, green, globular capsule which contains from 1 to 6 shiny, brown seeds. 

Traditionally, many of the aerial parts of the horse chestnut tree, including the seeds, leaves, and bark, were used in medicinal preparations. Modern extracts of horse chestnut are usually extracts of the seeds, which are high in the active constituent aescin.

Dosage: 

Traditionally, 0.2-1.0 grams of the dried seeds were used per day. However, only standardized extracts should be used internally. 

Horse chestnut seed extracts standardized for aescin content (16-21%) or isolated aescin preparations are often recommended at an initial dose of 90-150 mg of aescin per day. Once improvement is noted, this is usually reduced to a maintenance dose of 35-70 mg of aescin per day.

Topical aescin preparations are used in Europe for hemorrhoids, skin ulcers, varicose veins, sports injuries, and trauma of other kinds. A gel of aescin is typically applied to the affected area three to four times per day. For hemorrhoids and varicose veins, horse chestnut is often combined with witch hazel.

Infusion: Steep 1 tsp. Bark (from branches) in 1 cup water.

Powder: Take 1/2 tsp. For diarrhea, vericose veins, and hemorrhoids.

For catarrh, take 1/4 to 1/2 tsp., two times per day.

Bath Additive: Boil 2 to 2.5 pounds chopped fruit in water and add the resulting liquid to bath water.

Safety: 

Internal use of purified horse chestnut extracts standardized for aescin at the doses listed here is generally safe. Isolated reports of kidney damage in persons consuming very large quantities of aescin were made. Horse chestnut should be avoided by anyone with liver or kidney disease. Do not use it if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.  

Topically, horse chestnut has been associated with rare cases of allergic skin reactions. Circulation disorders and trauma associated with swelling are usually the signs of a serious condition; please consult a health care professional before self-treating with horse chestnut.

The leaves, seeds, and green capsule shell sometimes cause poisoning if taken in sufficient amounts. Roasting the seeds seems to destroy the poison in them.

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