Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

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. Modern extracts of horse chestnut are usually made from the seeds, which are high in the active constituent aescin (also known as escin).

Horse chestnut leaves have been used by herbalists as a cough remedy and to reduce fevers. The leaves were also believed to reduce pain and inflammation of arthritis and rheumatism. In traditional herbal medicine, poultices of the seeds have been 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 seeds are the source of a saponin known as aescin, which has been shown to promote circulation through the veins. Aescin fosters 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, to a lesser extent, varicose veins. Aescin also possesses anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to reduce edema (swelling with fluid) following trauma, particularly following sports injury, 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.

Studies and clinical trials have shown that oral horse chestnut extracts reduce the symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency, including swelling and pain. Those suffering edema after surgery have also found relief from topical application of horse chestnut extracts.

For treatment of chronic venous insufficiency, horse chestnut seed extracts standardized for aescin content (16–20%), 300mg are used 2 – 3 times per day. Tincture, 1 – 4ml taken three times per day, can be used though it is questionable whether a significant amount of aescin can be absorbed this way. Gels or creams containing 2% aescin can be applied topically 3 – 4 times per day for hemorrhoids, skin ulcers, varicose veins, sports injuries, and trauma of other kinds.


Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) can help with the following


Varicose Veins

A study out of West Germany, reported in the early 1980s, showed horse chestnut products affected both the collagen content and architecture of the varicose vein and helped make the veins more normal. Horse chestnut may also relieve symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which sometimes leads to varicose veins. Symptoms of CVI include edema, enlarged veins near the skin surface, and fatigue in the legs.


Phlebitis / Thrombophlebitis

Horse chestnut is often used for chronic venous insufficiency and varicose veins – conditions related to phlebitis. For this reason, horse chestnut is sometimes recommended for phlebitis as well, but may be better suited for prevention of the condition.


May do some good
Highly recommended



Inflammation of a joint, usually accompanied by pain, swelling, and stiffness, and resulting from infection, trauma, degenerative changes, metabolic disturbances, or other causes. It occurs in various forms, such as bacterial arthritis, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most common form, is characterized by a gradual loss of cartilage and often an overgrowth of bone at the joints.


General term applied to conditions of pain, or inability to articulate, various elements of the musculoskeletal system.


Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with one teaspoon herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Tinctures may be used singly or in combination as noted. The high doses of single herbs suggested may be best taken as dried extracts (in capsules), although tinctures (60 drops four times per day) and teas (4 to 6 cups per day) may also be used.


Lesion on the skin or mucous membrane.


Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.

Varicose Veins

Twisted, widened veins with incompetent valves.


Varicose disorder causing painful swellings at the anus; piles.


Any of various mostly toxic glucosides that occur in plants (as soapwort or soapbark) and are characterized by the property of producing a soapy lather.


Most commonly 'topical application': Administration to the skin.


Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.


Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms, without directly acting on the cause of inflammation, e.g., glucocorticoids, aspirin.


Abnormal accumulation of fluids within tissues resulting in swelling.


An illness or symptom of sudden onset, which generally has a short duration.


A large subgroup of steroids.


(mg): 1/1,000 of a gram by weight.


An alcohol or water-alcohol solution, usually referring to a preparation from herbal materials.

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