horse chestnut herbal tincture


tincture of horse chestnut for varicose veins

Horse Chestnut – Botanical Name Aesculus hippocastanum

What It Is 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 in the legs do not efficiently return blood 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.

How It Is Used
Horse chestnut seed extract as a tincture is used internally usually along with other herbs, for instance in VeinsLess Tonic. It is also combined with other topical herbs for use as a lotion called Veins Lotion that is applied directly to the legs for varicose veins and itchy veins. Both the Tonic and the Lotion can be used as preventative medicines if varicosities are indicated in the medical history of patients.

What Science Says
* 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.
* Chronic venous insufficiency – Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a condition that is more commonly diagnosed in Europe than in the United States, and may include leg swelling, varicose veins, leg pain, itching, and skin ulcers. There is evidence from laboratory, animal, and human research that horse chestnut seed extract (HCSE) may be beneficial to patients with this condition. Studies report significant decreases in leg size, leg pain, itchiness, fatigue and “tenseness.” There is preliminary evidence that HCSE may be as effective as compression stockings.

More Information about Varicose Veins and Treatment
Varicose veins are veins that have become enlarged and twisted. The term commonly refers to the veins on the leg, although varicose veins occur elsewhere. Veins have leaflet valves to prevent blood from flowing backwards (retrograde). Leg muscles pump the veins to return blood to the heart. When veins become enlarged, the leaflets of the valves no longer meet properly, and the valves don’t work. The blood collects in the veins and they enlarge even more. Varicose veins are common in the superficial veins of the legs, which are subject to high pressure when standing. Besides cosmetic problems, varicose veins are often painful, especially when standing or walking. They often itch, and scratching them can cause ulcers. Serious complications are rare. Non-surgical treatments include elastic stockings, elevating the legs, and exercise. The standard surgical treatment is vein stripping to remove the affected veins. Newer surgical treatments are less invasive but have not been tested as thoroughly. Since most of the blood in the legs is returned by the deep veins, and the superficial veins only return about 10%, they can be removed without serious harm. Varicose veins are distinguished from reticular veins (blue veins) and telangiectasias (spider veins) which also involve valvular insufficiency, by the size and location of the veins.

Side Effects and Cautions
* Homemade preparations of horse chestnut should not be used. Raw horse chestnut seeds, leaves, bark, and flowers contain esculin, a saponin, which is poisonous to humans, although deer can and doeat the seeds. But an external wash can be made – crush the fresh or dried concor nut, soak or boil in rain water (because it is soft), allow to cool and bathe your legs to relieve itchiness. Or buy our Veins Lotion.

Horse chestnut seed extract. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckman J, eds. Herbal Medicine Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:201-204.

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