Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum L.)


Horse chestnut seed extract (HCSE) comes from the buckeye tree. Its primary active ingredient is called escin. HCSE is widely used in Europe to treat pain, itching, skin disorders, and ulcers. Limited studies suggest that HCSE may be used for inflammation, infertility, and bowel blockage after surgery.
There is strong evidence supporting the use of HCSE for circulation problems in the legs. Studies suggest that HCSE may be cost-effective when combined with conventional therapy for this condition.
Horse chestnut flower, branch bark, or leaves that are not fully processed should be avoided, due to the risk of bleeding and poisoning. HCSE given through tube feeding should be avoided due to the risk of kidney problems, life-threatening allergic reactions, and infection.

Related Terms

Aescin, aescine, Aesculaforce®, aescule, aesculetin, Aesculushippocastanum L., buckeye, bongay, chestnut, conkers, Conquerors, coumarins, eschilo, escin, escina, escine, esculin, fatty acids, fish poison, flavonoids, graine de marronnier d'Inde (French), fraxetin glucoside, fraxin, H. vulgare Gaertn., hestekastanje (Danish, Norwegian), HCSE, Hippocastanaceae (family), Hippocastani folium, Hippocastani semen, horse chestnut seed extract, horsechestnut, lectin, linolenic acid, Marron Europeen, marronnier (French), NV-101, palmitic acid, quinines, Rokastaniensamen, Rosskastanie (German), scopoletin glucoside, scopolin, Spanish chestnut, steric acid, sterols, tannins, Venastat®, Venoplant®.
Combination product examples: Venostasin® (a German preparation containing 100 milligrams of escin).

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Circulation problems (Grade: A)
Horse chestnut has been used to treat chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a circulation disorder in the legs. HCSE has been found to significantly decrease CVI symptoms such as leg pain, itching, and fatigue. Some studies suggest that HCSE may be as effective as compression stockings, which are often used for vein disorders.
Inflammation (Grade: C)
A study reports that escin injected into the veins, followed by danshen injected into the veins, may improve swelling of a fracture. More research is needed to confirm these findings.
Male infertility (Grade: C)
Early research suggests that supplementing with escin may improve sperm density in infertile men. Further research is needed before firm conclusions can be made.
Postoperative ileus (bowel blockage after surgery) (Grade: C)
Early study suggests that injecting escin in the vein daily may improve bowel symptoms in people with colorectal cancer, compared to placebo. More research is needed in this area.