Principal Proposed Uses
- Venous Insufficiency (Related to Varicose Veins)
The horse chestnut tree is widely cultivated for its bright white, yellow, or red flower clusters. Closely related to the Ohio buckeye, this tree produces large seeds known as horse chestnuts. A superstition in many parts of Europe suggests that carrying these seeds in your pocket will ward off rheumatism. More serious medical uses date back to nineteenth-century France, where extracts were used to treat hemorrhoids.
What Is Horse Chestnut Used for Today?
Serious German research of this herb began in the 1960s and ultimately led to the approval of a horse chestnut extract for vein diseases of the legs. Horse chestnut is the third most common single-herb product sold in Germany, after ginkgo and St. John's wort . In Japan, an injectable form of horse chestnut is widely used to reduce inflammation after surgery or injury; however, it is not available in the United States, and it may present safety risks.
Horse chestnut is most often used as a treatment for venous insufficiency . This is a condition associated with varicose veins, when the blood pools in the veins of the leg and causes aching, swelling, and a sense of heaviness. While horse chestnut appears to reduce these symptoms, no studies have evaluated whether it can make visible varicose veins disappear, or prevent new ones from developing.
Finally, horse chestnut is sometimes used along with conventional treatment in cases where the veins of the lower legs become seriously inflamed (called phlebitis ). Note: Phlebitis is potentially dangerous and requires a doctor's supervision.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Horse Chestnut?
The most common dosage of horse chestnut is 300 mg twice daily, standardized to contain 50 mg aescin per dose, for a total daily dose of 100 mg aescin.
Horse chestnut preparations should certify that a toxic constituent called esculin has been removed (see Safety Issues). Also, a delayed-release formulation must be used to prevent gastrointestinal upset.
Interactions You Should Know About
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 08/22/2013 -