Horse chestnut, or
Aesculus hippocastanum, is a tree native to the
Extract from the horse
chestnut seed is a popular dietary supplement
commonly used to improve vein health and reduce
The main active
component in horse chestnut extract is aescin, which
has been studied for its many health benefits.
insufficiency (CVI) is a health condition
characterized by poor blood flow to the veins of the
Symptoms can include :
- edema, or swelling
of the legs
- leg pain or cramps
- itchy legs
- varicose veins, or
enlarged, twisted veins that typically occur in
- leg ulcers
- weakness in the
A common treatment is
compression therapy or stockings, which can increase
blood flow to your legs.
The compound aescin in
horse chestnut has multiple medicinal properties
that could make it useful for treating CVI. For
example, it may increase blood flow in your veins,
possibly improving symptoms .
In a review of 19
studies, 9 studies found that daily doses of 600 mg
of horse chestnut extract containing 50 mg of aescin
taken for up to 8 weeks reduced symptoms of CVI,
including leg pain, swelling, and itchy legs .
In fact, one study
noted that horse chestnut extract was as effective
as compression therapy at reducing swelling and leg
These studies show that
horse chestnut extract may be effective for treating
CVI short term, but more research is needed to
determine its long-term effects.
Varicose veins are
swollen, bulging veins that typically occur in the
legs and can be caused by CVI.
Horse chestnut seed
extract may improve venous tone by improving blood
flow in your legs (7Trusted
Additionally, it may
help decrease leg swelling and pain associated with
In an 8-week study, 58%
of participants who took horse chestnut seed extract
tablets containing 20 mg of aescin 3 times daily and
applied 2% aescin gel topically twice daily had
reduced varicose vein symptoms like leg pain,
swelling, heaviness, and discoloration
Inflammation can cause
excess fluid buildup in your tissues, which can lead
to fluid retention and swelling .
Aescin is a component
in horse chestnut extract with anti-inflammatory
properties. It has been found to reduce inflammation
related to injury, venous insufficiency, and
A review of 17 studies
observed that horse chestnut seed extract could help
reduce inflammation and swelling in the legs and
feet related to CVI .
In addition, studies
showed that applying a topical ointment containing
aescin could reduce inflammation and swelling after
trauma, surgery, and sports injuries .
However, this ointment
also contained other anti-inflammatory compounds,
making it unclear whether aescin alone would have
the same effects.
Hemorrhoids are a
common health condition characterized by swollen
veins around your anus and rectum.
uncomfortable and can include itching, irritation,
pain, and rectal bleeding .
properties of horse chestnut seed extract may help
relieve symptoms of hemorrhoids by reducing
inflammation and swelling in the affected veins .
Still, research in this
area is limited and more studies are needed to
confirm the potential benefits of horse chestnut
extract for treating hemorrhoids.
Horse chestnut seed
extract contains powerful antioxidants — compounds
that can help prevent cell damage caused by unstable
molecules called free radicals. Too many free
radicals can lead to inflammation and cellular
Horse chestnut seed
extract is rich in flavonoid compounds, including
quercetin and kaempferol, which have potent
antioxidant properties .
A test-tube study found
that both aescin and horse chestnut seed extract
have antioxidant properties, but that the horse
chestnut seed extract had greater effects than
aescin alone. This may be due to the synergistic
effects of the components in the extract
Aside from its powerful
anti-inflammatory properties, test-tube studies also
indicate that aescin has anticancer effects.
These studies found
that aescin could significantly reduce tumor cell
growth in certain cancers like liver cancer,
leukemia, and multiple myeloma .
In addition, test-tube
studies observed that aescin can cause cell death in
cancerous cells like pancreatic cancer and lung
However, these studies
used concentrated amounts of aescin, and it’s
unclear whether the amount found in horse chestnut
seed extract would have the same effects. More human
studies in this area are needed before firm
conclusions can be made.
One of the causes of
male infertility is varicocele, or swelling of the
veins near the testicles .
and anti-swelling properties in aescin — a compound
in horse chestnut — may make it an effective
treatment for infertility related to varicocele .
A 2-month study in over
100 men with varicocele-associated infertility found
that taking 30 mg of aescin every 12 hours improved
sperm density, sperm motility, and sperm quality. In
addition, the varicocele size decreased with the
intake of aescin
While the use of horse
chestnut seed extract is generally considered safe,
you should be aware of some safety concerns and side
people with kidney or
liver disease should not take horse chestnut as it
may exacerbate symptoms of their disease.
For these reasons,
always consult with your healthcare provider before
taking horse chestnut extract especially if you have
a medical condition or are currently taking
Furthermore, the safety
of using horse chestnut extract during pregnancy and
breastfeeding is unknown, and the supplement should,
therefore, be avoided by women who are pregnant or