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Aesculus hippocastanum

Aesculus hippocastanum


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Horsechestnut, Horse Chestnut, Bongay


Aesculus hippocastanum trees grow up to 35m and more tall. The branches are domed with older branches being pendulous. The palmately compound leaves are opposite having up to 7 leaflets. A. hippocastanum produces a small white flower in spring and a green fruit with nutlike seeds later in the summer.

Origin / Habitat

A. hippocastanum is found in temperate areas of the United States such as the southeastern states. It thrives in sandy, loamy soils and can grow in both acidic and alkaline soils. However, it needs direct sunlight.

Chemical Constituents

Saponins (including aescin or escin), coumarin glycosides (aesculin and aesculetin), condensed tannins (proanthocyanidins).(1),(2)

Plant Part Used

Seed, Root (3)

Traditional Use

A. hippocastanum traditionally was used for pain. The roots were thought to be an analgesic and crushed into a fine powder and applied to the chest cavity in the Iroquois tribe. This same treatment was used to treat pulmonary complaints.(3)

Another use was for rheumatism when the root was used externally. Both the Mohegan and Shinnecock tribes carried A. hippocastanum in pockets as an anti-rheumatic aid.(3)


Dosage Range

The dosages used in traditional medicine vary by tribe, application and preparation with no common dosage reported that would be consistent among all tribal regions. 

Most Common Dosage

No documentation

Standardisation Dosage

No documentation



Over the past few decades, a number of studies have been done to test the efficacy of A. hippocastanum in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiencies, most performed in Germany.(4),(5) Many of the trials were objectively measured by the volume reduction in the leg, as well as subjectively, in the treatment of such symptoms as pain, tiredness, tension and swelling in the leg, itching, and the tendency towards edema. A. hippocastanum seed extract is reported to be useful for the treatment or prevention of venous insufficiency.(6),(7),(8) 

Escin is comprised of a-escin and b-escin fractions. As determined in laboratory animal studies, the bioavailability of escin is about 10 to 15%, with a half-life of 10 to 19 hours.(9) Maximum plasma level after a single capsule of delayed release A. hippocastanum is 20 to 30 ng/ml after 2 to 3 hours. In a study of the bioavailability of b-escin in a delayed release formulation versus a normal release preparation, both standardized to 50 mg escin, area under the curve for the normal release product was reported to be 30% higher and time to maximum concentration greater.(10)


As stated, several clinical studies have been reported in German literature regarding the effectiveness of standardized preparations of A. hippocastanum seed extract in chronic venous insufficiencies using human subjects.(9) The effect of a standardized A. hippocastanum seed extract was assessed in a randomized placebo-controlled crossover double-blind trial of 22 patients with proven chronic venous insufficiency by measuring the capillary filtration coefficient and the intravascular volume of the lower leg by venous-occlusion plethysmography.(11) Three hours after taking two capsules of a standardized preparation (600 mg; each capsule containing 50 mg aescin), the capillary filtration coefficient had decreased by 22%, whereas after administration of a placebo capsule it rose slightly over three hours. The difference in the effect of standardized A. hippocastanum seed extract and placebo is statistically significant. The authors concluded that a standardized preparation of A. hippocastanum seed has an inhibitory effect on edema formation via a decrease in transcapillary filtration and thus improves edema-related symptoms in venous diseases of the legs. 

A. hippocastanum seed gel product containing 2% escin was successful in a recent non-controlled multi-center trial for six weeks on 71 patients with chronic venous insufficiency and edema.(12) Ankle circumference was reduced by a statistically significant 0.7 cm and the symptoms score was reduced by approximately 60% as determined by physicians and patients.

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

No documentation

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

Based on pharmacology, individuals with kidney or liver problems or bleeding disorders should not take A. hippocastanum.(13),(14) Due to the possibility that standardized A. hippocastanum seed extract may increase the absorption of magnesium, use with caution in patients with hypermagnesemia.(15)


No documentation

Age limitation

No documentation

Adverse reaction

No documentation

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  1) Medicinal Herbs


  1. Yoshikawa M, Murakami T, Yamahara J, et al. Bioactive Saponins and Glycosides. XII. Horse chestnut. (2): Structures of Escins IIIb, IV, V, and VI and Isoescins Ia, Ib, and V, Acylated Polyhydroxyoleanene Triterpene Oligoglycosides, from the Seeds of Horse Chestnut Tree (Aesculus hippocastanum L., Hippocastanaceae). Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). Nov1998;46(11):1764-1769.
  2. Farnsworth NR, et al. A Review of Some Biologically Active Compounds Isolated from Plants as Reported in the 1974-1975 Literature. Lloydia. 1976;39:420-455.
  3. Moerman DE.  Native American Ethnobotany. Portland OR: Timber Press; 2009.51.
  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. 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. Pittler MH, Ernst E. Horse chestnut seed extract for chronic venous insufficiency.Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(1):CD003230.
  8. 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):305-315.
  9. Schulz V, et al. Rational Phytotherapy. Berlin: Springer-Verlag; 1998:129-138.
  10. Schrader E, Schwankl W, Sieder C, et al. Comparison of the Bioavailability of Beta-aescin After Single Oral Administration of Two Different Drug Formulations Containing an Extract of Horse-chestnut Seeds. Pharmazie. Sep1995;50(9):623-627. 
  11. Bisler H, Pfeifer R, Kluken N, et al. Effects of Horse-chestnut Seed Extract on Transcapillary Filtration in Chronic Venous Insufficiency. Dtsch Med Wochenschr. Aug1986;111(35):1321-1329.
  12. Geissb├╝hler S, Degenring FH. Treatment of Chronic Venous Insufficiency with Aesculaforce Vein Gel. Schweiz Zschr Ganzheits Medizin. 1999;11:82-87.
  13. Newall CA, et al. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:166-167.
  14. Heck AM, et al. Potential interactions between alternative therapies and warfarin. Am J Health Syst Pharm. Jul2000;57(13):1221-1227.
  15. Li Y, Matsuda H, Wen S, et al. Enhancement by Escins Ib and IIb of Mg(2+) Absorption from Digestive Tract in Mice: Role of Nitric Oxide. Eur J Pharmacol. Jan2000;387(3):337-342.

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