The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

Horse Chestnut

Scientific Names

Red Horse Chestnut

  • Aesculus hippocastanum L.
  • Aesculus Chinensis
  • Hippocasanaceae
  • Sapindaceae
  • Horse Chestnut family

Common Names

  • T’ien-shih-li (Chinese name)

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Parts Usually Used

Nuts, leaves, flowers, bark
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Grows to 100 ft. in height. Has 5-7 toothed leaflets per leaf; up to 12 inches long; without stalks. Buds are large and very sticky. Broken twigs do not have foul-smelling odor as the Ohio Buckeye has. Flowers are white (mottled red and yellow); flowering in May. Fruits are spiny or warty; produced in September-October.
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Where Found

Planted in towns, horsechestnut is naturalized in the United States.
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Medicinal Properties

Tonic, stimulant, narcotic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, nutritive, febrifuge, expectorant
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Biochemical Information

The seeds contain various saponins including aescine, tannins, flavones, purines, starch, sugar, albumin, and a fatty oil.

The bark contains coumarins, glycoside, resin and pigment.
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Legends, Myths and Stories

The name is derived from a famous Taoist priest, Chang T’ien-shih, who lived in Ts’ing-ch’en.

Because of the high tannin content in horse-chestnuts, they must be shelled, crushed and leached overnight in cold water before they can be used. They are then strained and boiled for half an hour. The meal from the nuts is dried and used as medicine for humans or fodder for animals.

The green outer casing of the fruit is poisonous and narcotic but the toxic principles appear to be neutralized by preroasting.

Another chestnut tree (Castanea dentata) is also called horse-chestnut. It is not the horse-chestnut reported on here.
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Recent clinical trials have shown great promise for use of horse chestnut seeds in the treatment of lymphedema of the arms and legs. See the research article links below.

Horse-chestnut leaves have marked narcotic tendencies, and a cupful of standard infusion will ensure deep, calm sleep. It should not, however, be taken too often despite the tonic properties it also enjoys. Essence of horse-chestnut is rich in vitamin K and therefore valuable in treating all circulatory disorders. People suffering from poor circulation, piles, varicose veins, and chilblains may be helped with medical supervision.

Pealed roasted nuts were brewed for diarrhea, prostate ailments. In Europe, preparations of the seeds are believed to prevent thrombosis, rheumatism, neuralgia, burns, thought to help weak veins and arteries. Also used in bronchitis, swollen prostate, gastritis and gastroenteritis. Leaf tea is a tonic; used for fevers, colds, malaria, dysentery; externally, for lupus and skin ulcers. A fluid extract from the fruit protects against sunburn.

A related species: California buckeye (Aesculus californica) was reported to cause abortions in cattle. Although considered poisonous unless fully ripened and properly leached, it was used by the local Native Americans as a remedy for rheumatic aches and toothaches.
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Formulas or Dosages

The bark is boiled using 1 oz. to 1 pint of water. Not more than a tbsp. is given 3 or 4 times daily. The fruit is usually made into a liquid extract or tincture of which 5-20 drops are given 3 or 4 times daily.

To make external applications: mix 1/2 tsp. of horse-chestnut powder in 16 oz. water. Apply the mixture gently to varicose veins or hemorrhoids. Do not rub hard; this could cause further irritation.
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Nutrient Content

Rich in vitamin K
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How Sold

Horse chestnut extract can be purchased as supplements, powder and topical cream.
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This herb is potentially fatal. Could cause death or other serious consequences. Although horse-chestnut has been found to be safe and helpful for some people under the guidance and care of trained clinicians, we do not recommend its use for self-diagnosis and treatment.

However, the extract from horse chestnut seeds removes the toxic constituents, making it much safer for medicinal use. Care should be taken to follow instructions exactly.

Horse chestnut should never be used by pregnant or lactating women.

Toxic symptoms include gasteoenteritis, enlarged pupils, drowsiness, and flushing of the skin. Outer husks are poisonous. All parts can be toxic. Fatalities have been reported. Seeds (nuts) contain 30%-60% starch, but can be used as a foodstuff only after the toxins have been removed.

Professional care is essential with this herb.
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Resource Links

Horse Chestnut: Possible Treatment for Lymphedema

An American Society of Clinical Oncology Journal: Horse chestnut seed extract for the treatment of arm lymphedema Horse Chestnut Seed Extract for Lymphedema

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Cochrane Summary of Findings: Horse Chestnut Seed Extract for Chronic Venous Insufficiency

ScienceDirect: Horse chestnut – efficacy and safety in chronic venous insufficiency: an overview
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Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! Chinese Medicinal Herbs, compiled by Shih-Chen Li, Georgetown Press, San Francisco, California, 1973.

Buy It!The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

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