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Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

October 12, 2020

Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Plant Description

Horse chestnut is a large deciduous tree that can grow up to 40 meters (131 ft) in height and reach the age of 200 years. It is richly branched and has a wide, dense domed crown.

The leaves are palmately compound and opposite with 5 to 7 leaflets.

The flowers, which appear in May-June, are usually white with a pink spot at the base of the petals. They form a lot of nectar and are very decorative. The flowers are produced in panicles with 20 to 50 flowers on each panicle.

Active Ingredients and Substances

The conkers contain steroids (stigmasterol, alpha-spinasterol, beta-sitosterol), triterpene glycosides (including 5% aescin, composed of several glycosides), and flavonoids (quercetin, kaempferol, astragalin, isoquercetin, rutin).

The conkers also contain coumarins (aesculetin, fraxin, scopolin), allantoin, choline, phytosterol, amino acids, citric acid, tannins (including proanthocyanidins), starch, and fat.

The leaves contain coumarin glycosides, flavonoids, tannins, and traces of aescin.

Horse Chestnut Uses for Varicose Veins and Improved Blood Circulation

Although the leaves, bark, and flowers have been used in traditional herbal medicine, it is the big, shiny brown nut of the horse chestnut tree which is of greatest medicinal interest.

From them, an extract is obtained which is used to strengthen the walls of the blood vessels so that blood flow from the veins in the legs back to the heart improves.

The dried conkers contain 3-6% of a mixture of triterpene saponins, known by the common name aescin (escin).

It is aescin which is considered the main active ingredient responsible for the strengthening effect on the veins and capillaries.

Other Uses of Horse Chestnut

A decoction made from the leaves and bark of horse chestnut tree has been used traditionally as a remedy for diarrhea and hemorrhoids, and as a natural treatment for bronchitis and pertussis.

A tea made from the leaves or bark has also been used internally to treat periodical high fever, malaria, and dysentery, and it was once used to treat lupus and skin sores.

A decoction of the bark and leaf is believed to have a constricting effect and has been used externally as a natural treatment for on varicose veins. The decoction has also be used as a gargle to treat cold sores and gingivitis.

Dosage and Administration

Internally the horse chestnut is usually used in the form of standardized extracts containing 16-20% aescin in an amount of 300 mg (corresponding to 50 mg aescin), divided into two to three doses daily.

Externally, jelly, or cream containing 2% aescin, can be applied to the affected areas three to four times daily until the swelling has gone down.

Side Effects and Possible Interactions of Horse Chestnut

The safety associated with the use of horse chestnut as a medicinal herb has only been established using standardized extracts made from horse chestnut conkers. At recommended doses, the extract is regarded to be safe to safe to use, even for a long time.

It has been showing that an overdose of the extract intended for medical purposes can lead to anaphylactic shock. In clinical trials, adverse reactions were recorded by 0.9-3% of those who ingested the extract. Side effects consisted of a bloated stomach, itching, nausea, and dizziness.


This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner 

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