Benefits of Horse Chestnut
Now here is an interesting botanical with that has long been respected in the "old world". Surprisingly, the benefits of horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) are still relatively unknown in America, but ask any German and they'll tell you it's no secret at all!
At times it can be difficult to find substantial scientific date about a particular botanical extract but the benefits of horse chest are well documented. In fact, in Germany you will often find athletes who will use a horse chestnut balm to apply after a workout. It is a common and well accepted remedy for sore muscles and even bruising.
Why? Because horse chestnut contains a substance called aescin. Aescin has been shown to inhibit the lysosomal enzymes which can break down the "glue" holding cells together. When cell wall structures are allowed to break down you may experience increased capillary permeability and edema (swelling noticed primarily in the extremities). Horse chestnut may also improve vein tone by increasing the contraction of elastin fibers in the vein walls.
When incorporated into a cream or balm, the benefits of horse chestnut come from its ability to decrease the number or diameter of small openings in capillary walls, preventing the outward flow of fluid into muscle tissue. This may be noticed as reduced swelling and bruising.
When choosing a product with the benefits of horse chestnut look for for the aescin which refers to the collective compounds making up the triterpene glycosides that make the product effective. It should be calibrated to contain 16 to 20 percent Aescin standardization and be contained at 2% of the product's ingredients. However, at this time the FDA has not evaluated this botanical for effectiveness, safety or purity so please do not use if pregnant or nursing.
The benefits of horse chestnut (as an oral agent) also include effectiveness in treating chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). The complaint of swollen, achy, fatigued legs with or without varicose veins in very common. The following links are to 2 of at least 13 studies published since 1973 about its effectiveness with CVI. The first study concludes that horse chestnut was "superior to placebo and as effective as reference medications in alleviating the objective signs and subjective symptoms of CVI." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9828868 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16437450
More recently, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Food and Drug Analysis reported on its positive finding of horse chestnut cytotoxic effect on human breast cancer cells. This could well be a botanical too keep our eye on during future research trials! www.fda.gov.tw/tc/includes/GetFile.ashx?mID=148
Horse chestnut may have an additive anticoagulant effect due to aesculin so please check with your physician if you are taken any anticoagulants or antiplatelet agents (warfarin/Coumadin, heparin, Plavix, aspirin, Ticlid or Trental).