What is Horse Chestnut?
Horse Chestnut (also known as Aesculus Hippocastanum, Conkers, and Buckeye) is a tree that has cone shaped bunches of bright pink or white flowers with pink and yellow sprayed dots. The extract from the leaves, flowers, bark, and seeds of Horse Chestnut have been used in many herbal medicines for centuries, and more recently in cosmetics.
Horse Chestnut contains many beneficial herbal components which have a number of therapeutic benefits. Some of these components include triterpene glycosides, coumarin glycosides aesculin, flavonoids (quercetrin), tannins, and plant sterols.
What are the Benefits of Horse Chestnut?
Horse Chestnut is known for its great antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, vasoprotective, astringent, and analgesic properties. Herbalists often recommend Horse Chestnut Seed Extract to treat varicose veins, varicose eczema, frostbite, bruising, rheumatoid arthritis, sprains, muscle tension, and edema (swelling that is caused by fluid retention). Due to its astringent, anti-rheumatic, and antioxidant properties, Horse Chestnut is often used in shower gels, shaving products, sun care products, creams and lotions, and compresses for painful muscles and varicose veins.
Uses of Horse Chestnut
Varicose or Spider Veins
Studies have found that a component in Horse Chestnut called Aescin may be beneficial in the treatment of varicose veins and spider veins by improving both venous insufficiency and capillary integrity. In other words, it can help tone the compromised walls of the veins and promote healthy blood circulation throughout the body. Therefore, a simple remedy for varicose and spider veins is to mix Horse Chestnut extract and Grapeseed Oil in a 1 to 1 ratio, gently apply it onto the affected area before going to bed, and leave it overnight. Massaging the mixture onto the affected area is not recommended. Grapeseed Oil can also be substituted with Rosehip Oil, Kiwi Oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Other alternatives include Calendula Oil, Comfrey Oil and/or Arnica Oil.
Horse Chestnut extract is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which is why it is often used to relieve arthritic and rheumatic aches, pains, and sprains. In fact, many massage products that are used by athletes to relieve muscular or joint pain after extraneous workouts often contain Horse Chestnut. A simple remedy for rheumatoid arthritis is to to mix 1 tablespoon of Horse Chestnut Oil in half a tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Arnica Oil and apply or massage onto the affected areas twice daily.
Due to the antioxidant properties of Horse Chestnut, it is often recommended as a great anti-aging toner. Also, since Horse Chestnut extract promotes blood circulation and helps tone and strengthen fragile veins and capillaries, it is used in many high quality lotions and skin creams for reducing the appearance of wrinkles and cellulite. It is also used in many toning, slimming, and firming skin products. For healthy and glowing skin, simply mix 5-10 drops of Horse Chestnut Seed Extract into a 50ml bottle of Vitamin E oil or into your favorite face moisturizer and apply it each night before bed. Adjust the number of drops of Horse Chestnut based on your skin sensitivity levels (for example, start with 5 drops if you have very sensitive skin).
Tired and Heavy Legs
A simple home remedy for tired and painful legs is to massage Horse Chestnut Oil into your legs and then wrap the legs in a blanket for 15-20 minutes. A few drops of Grapeseed Extract can also be mixed to provide faster relief.
What are the Side Effects of Horse Chestnut?
Oral consumption of Horse Chestnut, especially its seeds, is considered unsafe and toxic. Consult your doctor as soon as possible if ingested. However, its topical use has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of many health conditions. In some individuals, topical uses of Horse Chestnut can cause allergic skin reactions.Therefore, it is recommended to apply it on a smaller area to test for any adverse reactions before beginning to use Horse Chestnut extract or oil on a regular basis. Horse Chestnut is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and patients with kidney or liver problems. Also, if you are using any other medicinal skin product, consult your healthcare provider before using this oil.
Where and How to Buy Horse Chestnut
Horse Chestnut can be found at herbal food stores in the form of oils, creams, lotions, and extracts. When buying it, make sure to look for a safe amount of Horse Chestnut component in the product. For example, in creams and lotions it should be around 4-12%, while in whole body massage oils and spider vein treatments the concentration should be from 10-20%, and in varicose vein treatments it can be from 20-60%. You may also find products that list Aescin as the active ingredient (which is derived from Horse Chestnut).