Small studies have found that horse chestnut seed extractextractto get, separate, or isolate a desired active ingredient is helpful in treating chronic venous insufficiency and is as effective as wearing compression stockings.
There is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of horse chestnut seed, leaf, or bark for any other conditions.
Do not use raw or unprocessed horse chestnut seeds, leaves, bark, or flowers. They contain esculin, which is poisonous. The toxic effect may result in vomiting, diarrhea, headache, coma, and paralysis. When properly processed, horse chestnut seed extract contains little or no esculin and is considered generally safe when used for short periods of time. However, the extract can cause some side effects, including itching, nausea, calf spasm, or gastrointestinal upset.
If your symptoms persist or worsen, consult a health care practitioner. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, consult a health care practitioner before using horse chestnut.
Horse chestnut may interact with few classes of medication:
- It may increase the anticoagulant or antiplatelet effect of certain medications such as aspirin, warfarin, and clopidogrel. As a result, there may be an increase in risk of bleeding or bruising if they are taken together with horse chesnut.
- Some studies suggest that horse chestnut can increase risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) when used with antidiabetes medications such as insulin or glyburide.
Because of the blood-thinning effect, you should stop taking horse chestnut 2 weeks before a surgical procedure.
Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.