Horse chestnut is a plant. Its seed, bark, flower, and leaves are used to make medicine. Horse chestnut contains significant amounts of a poison called esculin and can cause death if eaten raw.
The improved tone of the veins promotes more efficient return of blood to the heart, particularly from the veins in the lower extremities. Aescin also has anti-inflammatory actions and reduces swelling when applied topically to injuries such as sprains or strains.
How does it work? Horse chestnut contains a substance that thins the blood. It also makes it harder for fluid to leak out of veins and capillaries and weakly promotes fluid loss through the urine to help prevent water retention (edema).
Varicose veins and other circulatory problems (chronic venous insufficiency). Taking horse chestnut seed extract containing 16% to 20% of the chemical aescin can reduce some symptoms of poor blood circulation, such as varicose veins, pain, tiredness, swelling in the legs, itching, and water retention.
The addition of horse chestnut seed extract to the treatment options for CVI as well as varicose veins promises to give many men and women relief from the annoying heaviness and pain that they experience with these conditions. Even as a long-term follow-up to compression stocking therapy (with or without diuretics) for CVI, the extract offers a long-term approach to improving the tone of the veins in the legs and improving blood flow.
Remember to use a standardized extract with an adequate concentration of aescin.
For treatment of CVI or varicose veins, use 300 milligrams of HCSE (standardized to 50 milligrams of aescin) two to three times daily in the morning and evening (add an afternoon dose if you go up to three times daily—most people do fine at the lower dose) with adequate water or other liquid during meals.
While studies have lasted for at least 12 weeks, persons with CVI or varicose veins should consider HCSE a long-term treatment. For topical use, a gel or cream containing 2 percent aescin can be applied topically three to four times daily until improvement of swelling is noted.