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horse chestnuts

© 2018 Steven Foster

A horse chestnut monograph for the home

Latin Name: Aesculus hippocastanum

Common Names: horse chestnut, buckeye, Spanish chestnut

This horse chestnut monograph provides basic information about horse chestnut—common names, usefulness and safety, and resources for more information.

Source: https://nccih.nih.gov/

Horse Chestnut Basics

  • Horse chestnut trees are native to the Balkan Peninsula (which includes such countries as Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and Serbia), but are grown worldwide.
  • Historically, horse chestnut seed extract was used for joint pain, bladder and gastrointestinal problems, fever, and leg cramps.
  • Today, people use horse chestnut extract as a dietary supplement for chronic venous insufficiency (when the veins of the lower leg are unable to send blood back toward the heart), hemorrhoids, and swelling after surgery. Preparations made from the tree’s bark are applied to skin sores.
  • Usable parts of the plant include the seed, bark, and leaf, but seed extracts are most common.

Horse Chestnut in Health Research

  • There have been some studies in people on horse chestnut for chronic venous insufficiency but very little research has been done for other conditions.

Horse Chestnut Research Summary

  • A 2012 systematic review of 17 studies published between 1976 and 2002 suggested that horse chestnut seed extract can improve leg pain, swelling, and itching in people with chronic venous insufficiency when taken for a short time. Results from one of these studies suggested that horse chestnut seed extract may be as effective as wearing compression stockings.
  • Preliminary evidence from one Chinese study suggested that escin, the main ingredient in horse chestnut, may help restore fertility in some men. However, since all the men in the study also received other supplements and drugs, it’s unclear whether the improvement was due to this compound alone or the combination approach.

Horse Chestnut Safety

  • The unprocessed seeds, leaves, bark, and flowers of horse chestnut contain esculin, which is poisonous and may increase the risk of bleeding. (Escin, on the other hand, is a different compound and is considered to be safe.)
  • Properly processing horse chestnut seed extract removes esculin. The processed extract is considered generally safe when used for short periods of time. However, the extract can cause some side effects, including itching, nausea, gastrointestinal upset, muscle spasm, or headache.

Horse Chestnut References

 

PubMed Articles About Aesculus hippocastanum


Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)[Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US), National Center for Biotechnology Information; [1988] – [cited 2018 Apr 5]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

Morling, JR., Yeoh, SE., Kolbach, DN., (2020) Rutosides for prevention of post-thrombotic syndrome.

Post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) is a long-term complication of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) that is characterised by pain, swelling, and skin changes in the affected limb. One in three patients with DVT will develop post-thrombotic sequelae within five years. The current standard care for the prevention of PTS following DVT is elastic compression stockings. Rutosides are a group of compounds derived from horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), a traditional herbal remedy for treating oedema formation in chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). However, it is not known whether rutosides are effective and safe in the prevention of PTS. This is the second update of the review first published in 2013.

Morling, JR., Broderick, C., Yeoh, SE., Kolbach, DN., (2020) Rutosides for treatment of post-thrombotic syndrome.

Post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) is a long-term complication of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) that is characterised by pain, swelling, and skin changes in the affected limb. One in three patients with DVT will develop post-thrombotic sequelae within five years. Rutosides are a group of compounds derived from horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), a traditional herbal remedy for treating oedema formation in chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). However, it is not known whether rutosides are effective and safe in the treatment of PTS. This is the second update of the review first published in 2013.

Hawrelak, JA., Wohlmuth, H., Pattinson, M., Myers, SP., Goldenberg, JZ., Harnett, J., Cooley, K., Van De Venter, C., Reid, R., Whitten, DL., (2020) Western herbal medicines in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

To evaluate the efficacy of Western herbal medicines in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).