Horse Chestnut

Plant Part Used

Seed

Introduction

The horse chestnut tree was introduced into Northern Europe from the East in the sixteenth century. The French used extracts of horse chestnut seed for the treatment of hemorrhoids as early as the 1800s. Germany has been using extracts of horse chestnut seed for chronic venous insufficiencies for a few decades with great success, and it’s actually one of the most prescribed pharmaceuticals in Germany. Also in Germany, prescriptions for oral, standardized horse chestnut seed extract are written more than any other anti-edema venous agent. (1)

Interactions and Depletions

Interactions

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

300mg (standardized extract), 1-2 times a day, 1/2 hour before or 1 hour after meals.

Topically: Apply a 2% escin gel, 1-2 times daily to affected area(s).

Most Common Dosage

300mg (standardized extract), 2 times a day, 1/2 hour before or 1 hour after meals.

Topically: Apply a 2% escin gel, 2 times daily to affected area(s).

Standardization

[span class=doc]Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.[/span]

The most current available medical and scientific literature indicates that this dietary supplement should be standardized to 50mg triterpene glycosides, calculated as anhydrous escin per dose (16%).

Reported Uses

A number of studies have been conducted to test the efficacy of horse chestnut on venous insufficiency. (2) , (3) Venous insufficiency describes a condition in which the lower extremities cannot return blood to the heart. Symptoms of this disorder include varicose veins and pain and swelling in the legs. Many have suggested that horse chestnut can lower the volume of blood trapped in the lower extremities and reduce the pain, swelling and other common symptoms associated with venous insufficiency. (4) , (5) , (6)

Edema can be described as improper blood flow to the capillaries and leakage of fluid from the capillaries into surrounding organs and tissues, most noticeably in the hands, ankles and feet. In the case of edema support, studies suggest that horse chestnut may reduce capillary permeability and decrease leakage of fluids while promoting overall circulatory health. (7) , (8) , (9)

The key compounds present in horse chestnut may also act as an anti-inflammatory. Finally, researchers have found that horse chestnut may be a valuable antioxidant and free radical scavenger. (10)

Toxicities & Precautions

Introduction

[span class=alert]Be sure to tell your pharmacist, doctor, or other health care providers about any dietary supplements you are taking. There may be a potential for interactions or side effects.[/span]

General

This dietary supplement is generally well-tolerated when used in accordance with proper dosing guidelines. (11)

Do not apply this dietary supplement topically to areas of open wounds or broken skin.

If you are planning to have any type of surgery or dental work, stop using this dietary supplement for at least 14 days prior to the procedure.

Health Conditions

If you have kidney or liver problems do not take this dietary supplement. (12) If you have a bleeding disorder talk to your doctor before taking this dietary supplement. (13)

Side Effects

Side effects are possible with any dietary supplement. This dietary supplement may cause stomach upset or rash. (14) Tell your doctor if these side effects become severe or do not go away.

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects related to fetal development during pregnancy or to infants who are breast-fed. Yet little is known about the use of this dietary supplement while pregnant or breast-feeding. Therefore, it is recommended that you inform your healthcare practitioner of any dietary supplements you are using while pregnant or breast-feeding.

Age Limitations

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects specifically related to the use of this dietary supplement in children. Since young children may have undiagnosed allergies or medical conditions, this dietary supplement should not be used in children under 10 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

Read more

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References

  1. Schulz V, et al. Rational Phytotherapy. Berlin: Springer-Verlag; 1998:129-138.
  2. View Abstract: Pittler MH, Ernst E. Horse chestnut seed extract for chronic venous insufficiency. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(1):CD003230.
  3. View Abstract: Siebert U, Brach M, Sroczynski G, Berla K. Efficacy, routine effectiveness, and safety of horsechestnut seed extract in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and large observational studies. Int Angiol. Dec2002;21(4):305-15.
  4. Simini B. Horse-chestnut Seed Extract for Chronic Venous Insufficiency. Lancet. Apr1996;347(9009):1182-83.
  5. Vayssairat M, et al. Horse-chestnut Seed Extract for Chronic Venous Insufficiency. Lancet. Apr1996;347(9009):1182.
  6. View Abstract: Greeske K, et al. Horse Chestnut Seed Extract--An Effective Therapy Principle in General Practice. Drug Therapy of Chronic Venous Insufficiency. Fortschr Med. May1996;114(15):196-200.
  7. View Abstract: Rothkopf M, et al. New findings on the efficacy and mode of action of the horse chestnut saponin escin. Arzneim-Forsch/Drug Res. 1976;26(2):225-35.
  8. View Abstract: Guillaume M, et al. Veinotonic Effect, Vascular Protection, Anti-inflammatory and Free Radical Scavenging Properties of Horse Chestnut Extract. Arzneim-Forsch/Drug Res. 1994;44(1):25-35.
  9. View Abstract: Guillaume M, et al. Veinotonic Effect, Vascular Protection, Anti-inflammatory and Free Radical Scavenging Properties of Horse Chestnut Extract. Arzneim-Forsch/Drug Res. 1994;44(1):25-35.
  10. Dworschak E, et al. Medical Activities of Aesculus Hippocastaneum (Horse-chestnut) Saponins. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1996;404:471-74.
  11. Newall CA, et al. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:166-67.
  12. Newall CA, et al. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:166-67.
  13. View Abstract: Heck AM, et al. Potential interactions between alternative therapies and warfarin. Am J Health Syst Pharm. Jul2000;57(13):1221-7.
  14. PDR for Herbal Medicines, 2nd ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company; 2000:405.