Horse chestnut trees are native to the Balkan Peninsula (for example, Greece and Bulgaria), but grow throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Although horse chestnut is sometimes called buckeye, it should not be confused with the Ohio or California buckeye trees, which are related but not the same species.
horse chestnut, buckeye, Spanish chestnut
How is Horse Chestnut usually used?
Horse chestnut seed extract standardized to contain 16% to 20% aescin (escin), the active ingredient, is the most commonly used form. Topical preparations have also been used.
What is Horse Chestnut used for?
For centuries, horse chestnut seeds, leaves, bark, and flowers have been used for a variety of conditions and diseases.
Horse chestnut seed extract has been used to treat chronic venous insufficiency (a condition in which the veins do not efficiently return blood from the legs to the heart). This condition is associated with varicose veins, pain, ankle swelling, feelings of heaviness, itching, and nighttime leg cramping.
The seed extract has also been used for hemorrhoids.
Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.
What else should I be aware of?
Small studies have found that horse chestnut seed extract is beneficial in treating chronic venous insufficiency and is as effective as wearing compression stockings.
There is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of horse chestnut seed, leaf, or bark for any other conditions.
Homemade preparations of horse chestnut should not be used. Raw horse chestnut seeds, leaves, bark, and flowers contain esculin, which is poisonous.
When properly processed, horse chestnut seed extract contains little or no esculin and is considered generally safe. However, the extract can cause some side effects, including itching, nausea, or gastrointestinal upset.
Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Herbs at a Glance. Horse Chestnut. hhttp://nccam.nih.gov/health/horsechestnut/