Horse Chestnut

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Information about Horse Chestnut

Horse chestnut is an herb prepared from the leaves or seeds of the Horse chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum), and is used primarily for complications of venous insufficiency including varicose veins, ankle swelling, and leg cramps. 

Liver safety of Horse Chestnut

Horse chestnut has been implicated in rare instances of clinically apparent liver injury.  

Mechanism of action of Horse Chestnut

The horse chestnut tree is native to Persia and Eastern Asia, but has been introduced worldwide and is widely planted for its handsome shape and attractive leaves, nuts and flowers.  The horse chestnut should not be confused with the California or Ohio chestnuts (Aesculus california and glabra), which are different species and more often called buckeye trees. 

Clinical use of Horse Chestnut

Horse chestnut extract is used for the treatment of symptoms of varicose veins, hemorrhoids and phlebitis.  Extracts of the horse chestnut seeds are also used for diarrhea, fever and urinary hesitancy.  Creams with horse chestnut extract are used topically for muscle and joint aches due to arthritis or trauma.  The constituents of horse chestnut extracts are many and include triterpene saponins, hydroxycoumarins, flavonoids, and tannins.  Importantly, horse chestnut seeds contain the toxic triterpene saponin known as escin and its glycoside esculin.  Commercial preparations remove the toxic saponins and are generally well tolerated.  Horse chestnut is available as capsules, tablets, liquid extract, gels and solutions for parenteral administration. 

Side effects of Horse Chestnut

Side effects include nausea, dizziness, headache and pruritus.

Herbal and dietary supplements

Chinese and Other Asian Herbal Medicines

Multi-Ingredient Nutritional Supplements

See also Nutritional supplements
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Medication resources

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