The horse chestnut is so named because it was once used to treat chest complaints in horses. The bark, leaves and seeds—better known as the conkers that children collect in autumn—have been used in traditional herbal medicine for coughs, fever, arthritis and rheumatism. Today, extracts from the seeds are a well-regarded and clinically validated treatment for varicose veins and other ailments pertaining to the circulatory system.
How Horse Chestnut Works
Horse chestnut has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, astringent (tightening) and tonic properties. It contains a saponin known as aescin, which constricts blood vessels. Taken orally, or applied topically, horse chestnut helps to tighten tiny blood vessels and reduce cell wall permeability, preventing fluid leakage into surrounding tissue and helping to heal wounds. Horse chestnut tones and strengthens vein walls, helping to prevent them from becoming slack or swollen and turning into varicose veins or hemorrhoids, as well as reducing the pain and swelling of existing varicose veins.
In a study published in the Lancet, researchers found that taking horse chestnut extract might be as effective as using compression stockings. Venous ulcers, spider veins and hemorrhoids may be improved with horse chestnut; it may also help to prevent nosebleeds. Horse chestnut may be of possible assistance in countering fluid retention in the legs and therefore help prevent deep vein thrombosis, as well as controlling the swelling
How to Use Horse Chestnut
Horse chestnut is available as tablets, capsules, and tinctures. Look for products containing standardized extracts of aescin. Follow label instructions or take as professionally prescribed. Horse chestnut may also be applied topically, via a lotion or a cream made by a herbalist. associated with sprains and strains.
The unprocessed seeds, bark, leaves and particularly flowers are poisonous. Don’t take horse chestnut if you are taking anticoagulant or other blood-thinning medications, or if you have kidney or liver disorders, or are pregnant or breastfeeding. Side effects from taking horse chestnut are rare, but may include an itchy rash, upset stomach or nausea. Do not apply topically to broken skin.
Where to Find Horse Chestnut
Horse chestnut products can be found in health food stores and pharmacies, and from a qualified herbalist, who may supply it as a tincture combined with synergistic herbs.
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