The effectiveness of horse chestnut extract for varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency is proven in clinical trails. Though the extract is used for treating some medical conditions, its use has been linked with certain adverse effects as well. This article provides information on the side effects and benefits of the extract.
Horse chestnut, which is also known by the name of conker tree, is a deciduous tree that is closely related to the buckeye tree. Its usage in herbal medicine has been known for centuries. Today, it is cultivated on a wide scale in temperate climatic conditions. Nearly all parts of this tree (leaf, bark, flower, and seeds) contain therapeutically active chemicals, and are used for medicinal purposes. The horse chestnut infusion or seed solution is a processed product derived from its seeds.
For isolation of the infusion, the seeds are processed under sterile and controlled conditions. It contains active ingredients in pure and concentrated form. Of the several active chemicals, the most valuable component is aescin (also spelled as escin). Chemically, it is a blend of triterpenoid saponins, which possess neuroprotective, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. Other useful constituents present in this infusion are flavonoids, tannins, coumarins, phytosterol, amino acids, and citric acids.
The therapeutic property of aescin is thinning of blood, and reducing the risk of leakage of blood from the capillaries. Overall, it strengthens the blood vessels and enhances the blood flow. In the standardized form of the infusion, the percentage content of aescin is maintained at 16-20 percent. In alternative medicine, the seed infusion is believed to be a safe product for consumption, provided that it is taken in an unadulterated form as per the prescribed dosage, and the intake period is short-term.
The use of the solution for the treatment of varicose veins, chronic venous insufficiency, and other blood circulatory conditions is documented in herbal medicine. In chronic varicose insufficiency, the blood from the legs is not circulated back to the heart, as it normally should. This seed infusion is claimed to be effective for other medical problems as well. Its benefits include:
- The infusion is effective for treating painful hemorrhoids.
- It is also documented for treating edema. It increases the fluid loss through urination, thereby minimizing water retention problems.
- In treating chronic venous insufficiency and other circulatory problems, the effectiveness of the seed solution is compatible to using compression stockings (a medical hosiery).
- Its anti-inflammatory property makes it an excellent remedy for treating sprains and injury-related tissue swelling.
- Poultice prepared with this solution is applied for combating eczema symptoms, skin ulcer, and similar skin conditions.
- Other claimed benefits include treatments for diarrhea, skin sores, fever, whooping cough, back pain, and arthritis pain. However, more evidence is required to support these claims.
The conker tree is a poisonous tree that contains esculin. The ingestion of raw plant parts can lead to poisoning and ultimately, death. Thus, it is strictly recommended not to consume any unprocessed form of the tree parts. Probable adverse effects of the seed infusion are:
- The most common complaints include allergic reactions such as itching, skin rash, and nausea. People who have allergies to latex are more sensitive to this solution than the others.
- The prolonged use of the solution in high doses, increases the risk of liver diseases. It is also associated with exacerbation of kidney disease.
- People who already have digestive problems report worsening of gastrointestinal irritation after using the seed infusion.
- Another probable adverse effect of the solution is lowering of the blood glucose levels. So, people who have a medical history of hypoglycemia should refrain from the use of this solution.
- Do not consume this in conjunction with therapeutic drugs, as it can interact with the medications, leading to increased or decreased effectiveness.
Dietary supplements that contain this solution are sold in the health food centers. Many people consume them regularly for ensuring optimal functioning of the blood vessels. However, it is advisable to consult a doctor before the consumption of this infusion, especially in the case of people affected by kidney or liver malfunctions.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.