Horse chestnut

Authors: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer, Prof. Dr. med. Martina Bacharach-Buhles

All authors of this article

Last updated on: 11.09.2023

Dieser Artikel auf Deutsch


Aesculus hippocastanum; Chestnut; Gout tree; Horse and sow chestnut

This section has been translated automatically.

Horse chestnut is a deciduous tree up to 35 m high, with a dense arched crown and strong trunk, which can live up to 200 years. Originally native to the mountains of Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, from the Balkans to the Himalayas, spread throughout Europe from the 16th century. Thick, cone-shaped, sticky buds form in spring. The large leaves are 5- to 7-fingered and sit on long stalks. The fruits ripen in September/October.

Stem plant of the officinal preparations of:

Horse chestnut seeds in the form of standardized dry extracts as rational phytotherapy (well established use) for the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) with its typical symptoms (swollen legs, varicose veins, heavy and tired legs, pain, itching, muscle tension and calf cramps).

ESCOP: In chronic venous insufficiency and varicose veinsCommission
E: In chronic venous insufficiency (pain and heaviness in the legs, cramps in the calves, itching, leg swelling).

According to the HMPC, horse chestnut bark is traditionally used for CVI and hemorrhoids.

General information
This section has been translated automatically.

Only horse chestnut seeds in the form of finished medicinal products standardized to triterpene saponins(aescin) with appropriate dosage information count as rational phytotherapy (HMPC) orally for chronic (long-term) venous insufficiency, swollen legs, varicose veins, feeling of heaviness in the legs, pain, fatigue, itching, tension and cramps in the calves.

Traditionally used orally or locally for discomfort and heaviness of the legs associated with minor circulatory problems in the veins, to relieve bruising, local swelling and hematomas.

A paste made from the seeds is said to help with gout and rheumatic complaints (gout tree).

Extracts from the seeds are also used in medicine today. They contain a mixture of active plant compounds, with aescin, a complex of biologically active triterpene saponins, being the best-known main active ingredient. Aescin is believed to have vascular sealing, venous toning and anti-edematous effects. Aesculin, a glycosidic coumarin derivative, is also believed to have a venous tonic effect. Preparations of horse chestnut extract are prescribed for cardiac and venous edema, as well as for pain and heaviness in the lower extremities. Their efficacy has been proven in various studies.

Already in the 19th century the fluorescence of aesculin, was reported. In 1929, the German chemist Paul Krais observed that textile goods (wool and flax fibers) appeared optically brightened after treatment with aesculin. Derived from aesculin was 4-methylumbelliferone, the first industrially produced optical brightener.

Glacial ointments for sunburn may contain extracts from their buds.

"Chestnut Bud" is the name given to the essence of horse chestnut buds in Bach flower therapy.

The bark was used in the past to treat fever. Externally, flowers and leaves in various preparation forms are used for painful injuries/sprains, bruises, edema, varicose veins, spinal pain, circulatory problems, palpitations and runny nose.

This section has been translated automatically.

oral administration: headache, stomach discomfort, nausea and itching.

with local application: possibly itching

General therapy
This section has been translated automatically.

For horse chestnut seeds(Hippocastani semen) the quality is defined in the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur.), for horse chestnut bark(Cortex Hippocastani) no pharmacopoeia quality description is available.

Preparations: e.g. Antistax®, Venoplant retard®.

Aescorin® N Ointment, Anisan® Hemorrhoidal Ointment S, Arthrodynat® Ointment, Eye Drops Stulln® mono, Intradermi® Fluid N, Trauma-cyl Ointment, Varicylum® S Ointment, Venen-Fluid, Venostasin® N Ointment, Venotrulan® Ointment

This section has been translated automatically.

Leaves, recipes for chestnut leaf, blossom and bark teas, chestnut blossom essence (as bath additives), chestnut spirit, chestnut extract, tincture and mash are available in health food shops and pharmacies.

Allergologically, the pollen of the chestnuts does not play a significant role.

This section has been translated automatically.

  1. Suter A et al. (2006) Treatment of patients with venous insufficiency with fresh plant horse chestnut seed extract: a review of 5 clinical studies. Adv Ther 23: 170-190
  4. Wenigmann M. (2017) Phytotherapy medicinal drugs, phytopharmaceuticals, application. Urban & Fischer, pp. 184-185