Horse chestnut has been used as conventional remedy for rheumatism, arthritis as well as management of hemorrhoids and varicose. Since the seeds are poisonous, a lot of methods have been utilized in getting rid of the toxicity. The herb is more prominently used in Europe.
The useful components of horse chestnut are obtained from the seeds and bark of the Aesculus tree. Aescin appears to provide a certain weak diuretic activity and can reduce the permeability of venous capillaries. Furthermore, it has a tonic effect on the veins and aids in the prevention of collagen breakdown slowing down glycosaminoglycan hydrolases. The sterol content of horse chestnut may have a certain anti-inflammatory activity as well.
Previously, teas made from horse chestnut were used in treating hemorrhoids and diarrhea. It was also used topically for sores as well as rashes. Although, horse chestnut does not have enough scientific evidence, it is believed to provide benefits for those suffering from arthritis and fever. In addition, individuals with varicose veins, pain and swelling due to hemorrhoids and other chronic problems in circulation can benefit from the use of horse chestnut. It is also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties and has the capability to inhibit hyaluronidase.
The side effects of horse chestnut are toxic nephropathy, skin cancer due to topical skin cleansers, itching, calf cramps and GI irritation particularly with immediate release products. If used together with anticoagulants, it may increase anticoagulant effects alongside increased bruising and bleeding. When horse chestnut is used along with diabetic medications and insulin, increased hypoglycemic effects will occur. Aescin combines with plasma proteins and can displace drugs which are binded to protein.
If it is used together with other herbs with antiplatelet or anticoagulant properties like ginseng, feverfew, ginkgo and garlic, horse chestnut can increase their anticoagulant effects resulting to bleeding and bruising. There will be increased hypoglycemic effects when horse chestnut is combined with other herbs with hypoglycemic potential like fenugreek, aconite, gotu kola, sylvestie, dong quai and gymnema.
The Food and Drug Administration considers the entire horse chestnut to be unsafe. Individuals suffering from infectious or inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal system must not use horse chestnut because there is a possibility that irritation in the GI tract will develop. This herb should also be avoided by pregnant or breastfeeding women, diabetic patients, those using anticoagulant medications and patients with serious impairment of the kidney or liver.
The signs and symptoms of toxicity are muscle twitching, paralysis, loss of coordination, seizures, depression, salivation, vomiting, hemolysis, diarrhea, respiratory and cardiac failure, dilated pupils, headache and even death.