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Can Horse Chestnut Herb Help Varicose Veins

Updated on February 20, 2016
Chuck Bluestein profile image

At age 16 I was a volunteer at a hospital bacteriology lab. I became a chemist for U.S. government. Then I studied health & related fields.

Horse Chestnut Tree, Herb and Nuts

Horse Chestnut Tree.
Horse Chestnut Tree. | Source
These nuts from the horse chestnut tree are slightly poisonous. They contain alkaloid saponins and glucosides. Some mammals like deer can break down the toxins and eat them.
These nuts from the horse chestnut tree are slightly poisonous. They contain alkaloid saponins and glucosides. Some mammals like deer can break down the toxins and eat them. | Source
Fallen horse chestnuts in Autumn.
Fallen horse chestnuts in Autumn. | Source

Health Benefits of Horse Chestnut

After looking at many sources, I see that they all agree that this is a great herb for varicose veins. Varicose veins are veins that have become enlarged and twisted. The scientific name for horse chestnut is aesculus hippocastanum.

Andrew Weil M.D. says that the best way to avoid varicose veins is to avoid standing for prolonged times, maintain a healthy weight, elevate legs while sitting and use elastic support stockings while standing.

I used to be married to a woman that was an RN (registered nurse) and had varicose veins. I would give her massages almost daily but she told me that I could not massage her legs due to the varicose veins. I did not know about horse chestnut.

Horse chestnut is very popular in Europe for being used to help varicose veins or spider veins. According to New York University Langone Medical Center, this is the third most popular single herb used in Germany. The number one herb in Germany is ginkgo biloba and the second most used herb there is St. John's wort. The above webpage says:

The active ingredients in horse chestnut appear to be a group of chemicals called saponins, of which aescin is considered the most important. Aescin appears to reduce swelling and inflammation.

A condition associated with varicose veins is venous insufficiency. Hemorrhoids are a kind of varicose veins and it has been shown that this herb helps with hemorrhoids. At one time my wife's legs became so inflamed that the condition was known as phlebitis (serious inflammation of the legs). For a short time, she needed a wheelchair to get around. She was only 31 years old.

Dr. James A. Duke has a Ph.D. in botany. He worked for the U.S.D.A. (United States Department of Agriculture) for over 30 years researching the healing ability of plants, herbs and botanicals. He has numerous publications on botanical medicine, including the CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs.

He has a book on the 13 best herbs for healing and one of them is horse chestnut. To learn about the other best of the 13 herbs see: 13 Best Herbs for Health and Healing. Please note that above I mentioned ginkgo and St. John's wort as the best selling herbs in Germany. They are also among the 13 herbs in Dr. Duke's book.

Also St. John's wort is one of the top 5 most searched for herbs in 2012 on the NCCAM website. It is the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine that is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). For more on this botanical see 15 Health Benefits of St. John's Wort.

Please note that University of Maryland Medical Center says that St. John's wort is as effective as Prozac, Celexa and Zoloft for depression without the side effects. The above article has the link to this. Many people are suing Pfizer for not warning people that Zoloft can cause serious birth defects.

As far as ginkgo biloba being the most popular herb in Germany, it may also be the most popular herb used in America. It is used to help people that have a declining memory. To learn more about this herb, see 15 Health Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba.

Here is what says about Horse Chestnut:

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.

Horse chestnut seed and leaf are used for treating varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and swollen veins (phlebitis). also mentions other uses for this botanical plus it has theory on how it may help varicose veins. Here is a National Intitutes of Health webpage on Horse Chestnut. It lists the effectiveness of herbs under Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

It says that it is likely effective for Varicose veins and other circulatory problems (chronic venous insufficiency). Taking horse chestnut seed extract can reduce some symptoms of poor blood circulation, such as tiredness, itching, pain, varicose veins, swelling in the legs, and water retention.

It says that it has insufficient evidence to rate menstrual pain, cough, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, fever, enlarged prostate and eczema. It also mentions Special precautions and warnings. Horse chestnut is also an anti-inflammatory herb. If you look, you can find many more uses for this herb like neuralgia, rheumatism, fluid accumulation and decongestant.

Herbs have been used for over 5,000 years while medications or drugs is like a new kid on the block. Also they keep recalling more drugs or medications. In the late 1800s, the most popular treatment used by medical doctors was bloodletting or bleeding.

Ex-President George Washington is known as the father of the country. He had a very sore throat so the top doctors in the country bled 3 pints of blood from him and he died. So the newest or latest medicine is not always the best.

If possible it is better to get herbs that are organically grown if possible to make sure that they are free of pesticides and herbicides. There are companies that do not go through all the things that they need to get it labeled organically grown but they do make sure to grow it without fungicides and pesticides like Nature's Way,

Horse Chestnut: Help For Varicose Veins

Organic Horse Chestnut Balm

Viridian Horse Chestnut Organic Balm NEW , 100g
Viridian Horse Chestnut Organic Balm NEW , 100g


Organic sunflower oil, organic beeswax, organic shea butter, organic horse chestnut seed extract, organic burdock root extract, organic calendula (marigold) flower extract, organic rosemary extract, organic lavender.


Poisonous Plants 1-2-1 Aesculus hippocastanum, horse chestnut


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