The horse chestnut tree is native to the Balkans and northern Greece is a large tree, with a harmonious development and rich foliage which makes it appreciated as a range tree and to provide shade in public places.
The chestnut tree has a good longevity and can reach 400 to 500 years.
It has been planted a lot in France since its introduction in the 17th and 18th centuries and then gradually replaced in the cities by the plane tree, which supports pollution better.
Its white flowers sometimes spotted with pink are associated in the shape of an erected pyramid, they attract foragers (bees and bumblebees).
The fruit that falls from the tree in autumn is easily recognizable: it is a greenish capsule covered with spikes (less acute than those of the chestnut tree) which contains one or two rounded seeds, horse-chestnuts, of brown-brown color, shiny and with a whitish part, the hilum.
Horse chestnut looks like a large chestnut, but BE CAREFUL IT IS NOT EDIBLE, it is even considered TOXIC.
Horse chestnut has long been used in traditional European medicine.
The medicinal parts are especially the whole seed, more incidentally the bark and the buds.
The chestnut family is large and distributed throughout the northern hemisphere; many aesculus species are used in traditional pharmacopoeias, in particular in Asia (Aesculus chinensis).
They are very decorative trees.
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES
AESCULUS HIPPOCASTANUM HORSE CHESNUT
The main components of horse chestnut are:
- Saponins : 8 to 12% of aescin or escin which is a mixture of several chemically very similar compounds, the most important for its pharmacological power is beta-aescin.
- A coumarin : esculoside (or aesculoside).
- Non-specific but pharmacologically active flavonoids : quercetin, quercitrin, kaempferol.
- Tannins (around 2%).
- Carbohydrates (starches and sugars 40 to 50%).
- Lipids in somewhat variable quantity, about 5% oil dominated by oleic acid.
- Proteins (8 to 10%).
Saponins and coumarins are toxic but are useful in small doses for self-care .
Aescin acts on the walls of the veins and capillaries :
- strengthening of capillary resistance,
- limitation of the permeability of small blood vessels and veins,
- anti-inflammatory action,
- anti-edematous action: limitation of the exudation and therefore of the edema which follows the permeability of the blood vessels when there is blood pressure (varicose veins, hemorrhoids) or inflammation (contusion, ecchymosis) .
In-vitro tests show that aescin has anticancer power in cultured cancer cells, but there are, to my knowledge, no studies in animals or humans or information on them. doses or unwanted side effects.
Aesculoside and the associated sugar-free molecule aesculetol (or esculetol) have similar properties, a vitamin P effect :
- increased contraction of blood vessels (vasoconstriction),
- decrease in the permeability of capillaries,
- strengthening of capillary and venous tone.
Aesculoside, a coumarin, can decrease blood clotting through anti-vitamin K action.
Without these two types of compounds (saponins and coumarins) horse chestnut would be edible, but since it is difficult to remove or destroy them, horse chestnut IS NOT EDIBLE.
It regularly causes more or less serious poisonings in children who confuse horse chestnut and sweet chestnut and who consume it despite the harshness and bitterness of this seed.
Signs of horse chestnut poisoning:
- digestive disorders: vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain
- neurological and vascular signs: congestion of the face, fever, headaches, and in the event of massive intoxication (very rare) disturbances of consciousness, muscular disorders, delirium and vascular collapse.
In general, the intoxication is transient and remains benign, but if the person has not vomited, the quantity of chestnuts absorbed is large and neurological disorders are observed, it is necessary to reach a poison control center or hospital. .
Anti-poison treatment includes gastric lavage (in the absence of vomiting) and symptomatic treatment.
Most domestic animals including ruminants can poison themselves with horse chestnuts or horse chestnut foliage.
BARK and BUDS OF CHESTNUT AESCULUS HIPPOCASTANUM
The bark contains coumarins: aesculoside and fraxoside.
The buds (as well as the leaves) contain aescin (like chestnuts) as well as flavonoids.
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT OF VARICES AND HEMORROIDS
Extracts of horse chestnut, chestnut bark and its buds are especially useful:
- To strengthen the tone of the veins and small blood vessels, in particular the venous trunks of the lower limbs and the venous network of the anal region: VARICES AND HEMORROIDS.
- To reduce EDEMA OF LOWER LIMBS in people who have poor venous return (with or without varicose veins).
- To reduce inflammation and the pain that accompanies it in the event of hemorrhoidal inflammation ( HEMORROIDAL CRISIS ) or superficial phlebitis (inflammation of a varicose vein) .
- To prevent the risk of bruising or small subcutaneous hemorrhages (purpura and petechiae), and more incidentally to reduce rosacea .
- Horse chestnut extracts can also be used in gargles or mouthwashes in case of mouth ulcers.
Examples of DOSAGE :
There are many SPECIALTIES (in Europe and NORTH America) available in pharmacies, herbalists, or on the internet which contain horse chestnut or horse chestnut bark extracts alone or in combination with other plants or extracts of protective plants for veins and small vessels.
Some examples: chestnut extract P, chestnut Arkogélules, Elusanes chestnut tree, Histofluine P, Aesculaforce (in Switzerland), Reparil (gel and cp in Belgium), Venoplant (Belgium), Venostasin (Switzerland), in the countries of English language search for "horse chestnut seed extract (HCSE).
Refer to the specialty's instructions because the composition of Aesculus hippocastanum extract is variable (not standardized).
OTHER PREPARATIONS OF HORSE CHESTNUT :
- Horse chestnut powder (total): 1 to 2 g per day in 2 to 3 doses.
- Dry extract of horse chestnut: 300mg per day.
- Horse chestnut alcoholic tincture: 50 drops 2 to 3 times a day.
- Glycerine maceration of horse chestnut buds: 5 drops 3 times a day and 50 drops 3 times a day for maceration diluted to 1/10 (1D).
- Infusion of horse chestnut: possible but NOT RECOMMENDED because the constituents of chestnut are not chemically stable and the dosage is more random; 5 to 10 g per day of chestnut (seed and seed coat).
- "Domestic" alcoholic tincture: you can, with fresh horse chestnuts, make a perfectly usable alcoholic tincture:
100g of FRESH horse chestnuts WITH THEIR ENVELOPE quickly crushed or grated and macerated in 1 liter of alcohol at 70 ° C in a cool place and protected from light, stir from time to time, wait 3 weeks, filter.
Store the alcoholic tincture in a cool place and protected from light, 50 drops in 2 to 3 times per day.
CONDUCT OF TREATMENT :
To treat venous insufficiency of the lower limbs and hemorrhoids: treatment should be continued for at least 2 to 3 mont
HEMORROIDAL CRISIS, SUPERFICIAL PHLEBITIS, COUPEROSIS
There are some local preparations containing horse chestnut extracts (associated with other plants) to locally treat hemorrhoidal or varicose inflammation.
Rosacea and couperosis may benefit from oral treatment, but results are inconsist
DRUG INTERACTIONS AND PRECAUTIONS
Horse chestnut extracts, especially those from the bark, can theoretically lengthen the bleeding time (promote bleeding), so be careful when you are following an anti-coagulant treatment.
For the same reason, do not use chestnut extracts during pregnancy.
A few rare people are allergic to horse chesnut and can have an accident of hypersensitivity to this plant or to its extracts
The Amerindian populations of North America consumed certain chestnuts after having partially detoxified them by washing, soaking or fermentation.
Horse chestnuts contain a significant amount of carbohydrates.
Chemical processes make it possible to transform these carbohydrates into "thermoplastic" starches to give "biodegradable plastics" and by enzymatic hydrolysis into simple sugars (glucose, maltose).
PLANTING AN HORSE CHESTNUT TREE
Horse Chestnuts harvested as soon as they fall in autumn and planted quickly germinate in spring.
You just have to replant the seedling in a well chosen place because it is a fairly fast growing tree that can reach around thirty meters , but you can also grow it as a "bonsai" .
THE HORSE CHESTNUT tree, a large decorative tree to treat VARICES AND HEMORROIDS
Horse chestnut contains substances that are a little toxic but useful in small doses to strengthen the tone of veins and small blood vessels.
The fruit of this tree, horse chestnuts, as well as the bark and buds are the medicinal parts.
Their extracts are used to treat venous and lymphatic insufficiency of the lower limbs with or without varicose veins and hemorrhoids in the anal region.
Remember that HORSE CHESTNUT IS NOT EDIBLE although it looks a lot like a large "sweet" chestnut.
Copyright 2020 : Dr Jean-Michel Hurtel