Horse chestnut is an expectorant, decongestant, tonic, astringent, and anti-inflammatory. The benefits of horse chestnut include its use as a natural remedy to treat such diverse afflictions as fluid retention, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, arthritis, and sprains. Some other benefits of horse chestnut are its ability to lower fever, increase blood circulation, and ease the symptoms of phlebitis. Its antioxidant properties help remove toxins from the body and boost the immune system.
An astringent causes tissues to contract, decreasing discharges of bodily secretions such as blood. Among the benefits of horse chestnut is its astringent action that gives it the ability to shrink and reduce the bleeding, pain, and inflammation of hemorrhoids. It also tones and strengthens blood vessels. This improves circulation and prevents the walls of capillaries, arteries, and veins from breaking down and leaking, which is what makes horse chestnut so beneficial in the treatment of varicose veins.
Some other benefits are its effectiveness in treating leg cramps, bruising, and swelling. It is a powerful agent for reducing edema in the lower legs. The tea has been used as a folk remedy to treat diarrhea. Horse chestnut has been used topically as an ointment or cream to promote the healing of rashes, sores, and eczema. Aescin is the most prevalent medicinal constituent in horse chestnut and the agent that gives it such powerful therapeutic properties.
The horse chestnut isn’t actually a chestnut; it is a member of the buckeye family. It gets its name due to its green, spiny casing and shiny brown nut that resemble those of chestnuts. The seeds, bark, and nuts contain flavones and saponins, the substances that promote a healthy vascular system and provide some of the other healing benefits of horse chestnut. Native to the Balkans of southeastern Europe, the horse chestnut has been planted all over the world in temperate climates for the shade provided by its beautiful, spreading canopy.
Horse chestnut shouldn’t be used by pregnant women or nursing mothers. Herbs can have side effects just like pharmaceutical drugs do, and one of the side effects of horse chestnut can be thinning of the blood. This is why horse chestnut shouldn’t be used by people who are taking blood-thinning drugs. Other possible side effects of horse chestnut include allergic reaction, itch, and upset stomach. Allergic reactions are rare, but if any swelling occurs as a result of taking horse chestnut, medical care should be consulted immediately.