- Horse chestnut has been used as a medicinal remedy for hundreds of years.horse chestnut bud image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com
Horse chestnut trees are native to Greece and northern India, although they are now found throughout Europe. The main active ingredient in horse chestnut is a triterpine glycoside called aescin. This substance can be found in the bark and the nut of the tree and has be used throughout history to treat a number of ailments from bruises on horses by the Persians to aging skin and cellulite.
Treatment of Vascular Problems
- Today horse chestnut is commonly used to combat vascular problems such as the hardening of arteries, varicose veins and hemorrhoids. It is known to aid circulation in the body and decrease the fragility of the walls of blood vessels. According to a study published in the February 1996 issue of the British medical journal Lancet, horse chestnut extract is just as effective as compression stockings in curing people with chronic venous insufficiency. Horse chestnut tones the walls of blood vessels, making them less porous and reducing their chances of becoming slack and swollen.
- Research also suggests that horse chestnut and its active ingredient aescin may also be effective in reducing bruising. According to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the herb was found in a double-blind study involving 70 people to reduce tenderness in a single dose of 2% aescin gel after just five minutes.
- Aescin also has anti-inflammatory properties and has been reported to reduce the swelling caused by fluid following trauma such as a head injury or surgery. In Europe it is used externally to treat sprains and other sporting injuries. It isn't actually clear how horse chestnut works to reduce inflammation, however, according to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, theories include sealing leaking capillaries, thwarting the enzymes that create holes in capillary walls and improving the elastic strength of the veins themselves.