Horse Chestnut

HORSE CHESTNUT (Aesculus hippocastanum); California Buckeye (A. californica)

Family: Hippocastanaceae

Parts commonly used: Dried fruit (the hulled nut), leaf, bark.

Properties/energetics: The fruit is circulatory tonic, astringent, and antispasmodic. The bark is tonic, astringent, febrifuge (in this case used for intermittent fever), narcotic, and antiseptic/Neutral; bitter.

Uses: Horse Chestnut is used predominantly for treating conditions of the circulatory system when fluids that are normally free flowing stagnate. This plant reduces localized edema due to its ability to prevent fluid leakage from capillaries and venules (tiny veins continuous with capillaries) into tissues and, at the same time, increase reabsorption of fluids from the tissues into the capillaries. Besides this ability, Horse Chestnut increases venous tone, thereby helping treat and prevent varicosity associated with overrelaxation of the venous walls. It has a particular affinity for vascular congestion that causes hemorrhoids. Horse Chestnut is a remedy not so much for active conditions but more for treating congestion and engorgement; it’s effective for nerve pain in the viscera, especially the hepatic region, due to congestion, for soreness of the whole body, with vascular fullness, throbbing, and general malaise, as well as rectal uneasiness with burning or aching pain. This herb has definite potential for use in cases of sluggish, stagnate prostatic terrain. Horse Chestnut is also taken internally to relieve achy feet and calves swollen and puffy from standing around for long periods, or from sitting too long, causing fluid retention. Topically, Horse Chestnut applied as a gel or lotion reduces hemorrhoids, swollen veins, sprains, and swelling from sports injuries. It breaks down bruises and is good for rubbing into the spinal cord to repair damaged disks and for applying to the skin of bedridden people to help restore circulation.

Combinations: Combines well with Hawthorn, Yarrow, Ginger, and Prickly Ash for internal use to treat varicosity. For relieving leg cramps at night, use with Cramp Bark and calcium and magnesium supplements.
Affects on specific body types: Synthesizing the above, if you have a dull ache around your liver, tend to feel like all your visceral organs are constipated, or have congested achy hemorrhoids or varicose veins, this plant is specific for you. These are all Monarch constitutional characteristics, although in a disease state, they could manifest in any constitutional makeup. Chronically, however, this plant can relieve Monarch conditions of congestion and edema, especially when it’s combined with circulatory stimulants such as Prickly Ash and Ginger.

Precautions: This herb is not to be used with any blood-thinning medication or when there are bleeding disorders. The seed husks are toxic, and eating the leaves or green outer husks of the fruit can lead to symptoms of gastroenteritis, reddening of the skin, and drowsiness. Do not confuse the nut of this tree with Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra and A. arguta) or Red Buckeye (A. pavia). The actions of these plants are different than Horse Chestnut (A. hippocastanum) and California Buckeye (A. californica).

Preparation and dosage: Slice the fruit (nut) when fresh and dry it. Infusion: 1/2 cup three times a day of the dried, powdered nut. Tincture: Tincture the nut and take 1 to 10 drops three to four times a day. Decoction: Decoct 1 teaspoon of bark in 8 ounces of water and take only 1 tablespoon one to three times a day. Externally: Crush the leaves and apply as a poultice or prepare as a lotion and use for the above-discussed conditions as well as for treating skin ulcerations.

By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008

For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition