Aescin, Aescine, Aesculus hippocastanum, Buckeye, Castaño de Indias, Châtaignier de Mer, Châtaignier des Chevaux, Chestnut, Escine, Faux-Châtaignier, Hippocastani Cortex, Hippocastani Flos, Hippocastani Folium, Hippocastani Semen, Hippocastanum Vulgare Gaertn, Marron Europeen, Marronnier, Marronnier Blanc, Marronnier Commun, Marronnier d'Inde, Marronnier des Chevaux, Pu, Spanish Chestnut, Venastat, Venostasin Retard, Venostat, White Chestnut.
Overview InformationHorse chestnut is a tree. Its seed, bark, flower, and leaves are used to make medicine. Horse chestnut contains significant amounts of a poison called esculin and can cause death if eaten raw.
Be careful not to confuse Aesculus hippocastanum (Horse chestnut) with Aesculus californica (California buckeye) or Aesculus glabra (Ohio buckeye). Some people call any of these plants horse chestnut. This information applies to Aesculus hippocastanum only.
Horse chestnut seed extracts are most commonly taken by mouth to treat varicose veins and other circulatory problems that can cause the legs to swell. There is currently no good scientific research to support the use of horse chestnut for other conditions.
How does it work?Horse chestnut contains a substance that thins the blood. It also makes it harder for fluid to leak out of veins and capillaries and weakly promotes fluid loss through the urine to help prevent water retention (edema).
Uses & Effectiveness
Likely Effective for
- Poor circulation that can cause the legs to swell (chronic venous insufficiency or CVI). Taking 300 mg of standardized horse chestnut seed extract can reduce some symptoms of poor blood circulation, such as varicose veins, pain, tiredness, swelling in the legs, itching, and water retention. However, some early research suggests that horse chestnut might be less effective than maritime pine bark for reducing leg swelling and cramps.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Male infertility. Early research shows that taking horse chestnut seed extract twice daily for 2 months increases sperm density, but does not improve sperm movement, in men with fertility problems.
- A long-term disorder of the large intestines that causes stomach pain (irritable bowel syndrome or IBS).
- Enlarged prostate.
- Menstrual pain.
- Soft tissue swelling from bone fracture and sprains, arthritis, joint pain, and other conditions.
- Other conditions.
Side Effects & SafetyHorse chestnut is LIKELY SAFE for most people when a standardized seed extract product is taken by mouth for a short amount of time. Standardized products have been tested to contain exact amounts of a verified chemical. Only use products which have had the toxic substance esculin removed. Horse chestnut products can sometimes cause side effects such as dizziness, headache, nausea, stomach upset, itching, and calf spasms.
Pollen from the horse chestnut flower can cause allergic reactions. Rectal (suppository) use of horse chestnut may cause inflammation and itching in the anal area.
Raw horse chestnut seed, bark, flower, and leaf are UNSAFE and can even cause death when taken by mouth by adults or children. Signs of poisoning include stomach upset, kidney problems, muscle twitching, weakness, loss of coordination, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, paralysis, and stupor. Accidental ingestion of horse chestnut requires prompt medical attention. Children have been poisoned by drinking a tea made from the leaves and twigs or eating seeds.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking the raw seed, bark, flower or leaf is UNSAFE and can lead to death. Not enough is known about the safety of using horse chestnut seed extract from which the poisonous esculin has been removed during pregnancy or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid using horse chestnut if you are pregnant or nursing.
Bleeding disorders: Horse chestnut might slow blood clotting. Taking horse chestnut might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.
Diabetes: Horse chestnut might lower blood sugar. If you have diabetes, watch for signs of too low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and check your blood sugar carefully.
Digestion problems: Horse chestnut seeds and bark can irritate the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Don't use it if you have bowel or stomach disorders.
Liver disease: There is one report of liver injury associated with using horse chestnut. If you have a liver condition, it is best to avoid horse chestnut.
Latex allergy: People who are allergic to latex might also be allergic to horse chestnut.
Kidney disease: There is a concern that horse chestnut might make kidney disease worse. Do not use it if you have kidney problems.
Surgery: Horse chestnut might slot blood clotting. Horse chestnut might increase the risk of bleeding if used before surgery. People using horse chestnut should stop at least 2 weeks before surgery.
Be cautious with this combination
Lithium interacts with HORSE CHESTNUT
Horse chestnut might have an effect like a water pill or "diuretic." Taking horse chestnut might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with HORSE CHESTNUT
Horse chestnut might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking horse chestnut along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with HORSE CHESTNUT
Horse chestnut seed might slow blood clotting. Taking horse chestnut seed along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
The following dose has been studied in scientific research:
- For poor blood circulation (chronic venous insufficiency): 300 mg of horse chestnut seed extract containing 50 mg of the active ingredient, aescin, twice daily.
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