Dr MB’s Horse ChestNut
What Are Horse Chestnuts?
First of all, horse chestnuts aren’t related to chestnuts at all; they’re a totally different family of trees and shrubs known as Hippocastanaceae. While 15 recognised species exist, the European horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) is most commonly the one you’ll find used in supplemental and herbal medicine.
On the tree, horse chestnuts are encased in a spiky, greenish outer layer, and fall to the ground as the shiny, brown fruit once mistaken for a variety of chestnut. While these used to be fed to horses as stimulants and to help keep coats shiny, horse chestnuts are actually mildly poisonous to most animals except for deer and wild boar, which can break down the otherwise toxic compounds they contain.
Because of the glycosides and saponins found in horse chestnuts, they aren’t fit for humans to eat. However, the non-toxic parts of this tree and plant are what we use as a dietary supplement, and what was tested in the studies listed above.
Benefits of Horse Chestnut Seed Extract
1. May Help Treat Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Horse chestnut extract may help treat chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), also known as post-thrombotic syndrome or phlebitis. This condition occurs when non-functioning valves in your veins (commonly in the legs and sometimes arms) cause blood to pool in the limbs and increase internal pressure within the veins.
Up to 40 percent of people in the U.S. are affected by CVI, making it a very common affliction. It is more prevalent in women, especially after multiple pregnancies, and in middle-aged and older adults. Developing CVI is often associated with risk factors such as varicose veins and blood clots (deep vein thrombosis).
Compression treatment is typically used in conventional medical approaches to treat chronic venous insufficiency. However, many patients dislike this treatment due to the discomfort it causes.
Two Cochrane reviews have examined the effectiveness of horse chestnut on CVI. They have found that several randomized controlled trials (RCTs), considered the “gold standard” of scientific research, suggest horse chestnut extract to be both effective and safe for short-term treatment of CVI. Nevertheless, the reviewers caution that larger and more definitive trials should be conducted.
Additionally, some sources have discovered that using butcher’s broom in combination with horse chestnut extract in a cream can be a beneficial treatment for varicose veins, which are a precursor to CVI
2. Could Cause Cell Death in Certain Cancers
Scientists conducting cancer research on a particular substance start by observing its effect on specific types of cancer cells in a lab. If the substance significantly causes the death of those cancer cells, it may warrant future research to determine its potential as a cancer treatment.
In the laboratory, horse chestnut extract has demonstrated cancer-fighting effects on cells associated with leukemia, cervical cancer, and breast cancer. Among these, the most notable impact was observed on Jurkat cells, which are used to test acute T-cell leukemia. The lab tests revealed a cell death rate of nearly 94 percent, indicating the extract’s effectiveness.
3. Contains Powerful Antioxidants
Extract of horse chestnut contains some incredible antioxidants, which can help your body to fight free radical damage and more effectively fight disease. Studies have discovered both quercetin and kaempferol glycosides in horse chestnut, two antioxidants praised for their intense disease-fighting capabilities.
4. May Increase Effects of Prebiotics
Many of us are aware that good probiotic foods can aid in digestion and promote gut health. However, did you know that combining them with prebiotics can provide even greater digestive benefits? Prebiotics, which are a type of non-digestible fiber compound, are fermented by the gut microflora in the colon.
In 2011, researchers conducted a study on rats to evaluate the effectiveness of using horse chestnut extract and flaxseed oil to enhance the impact of probiotics. Both of these natural substances increased the effectiveness of prebiotics. The scientists conducting the study emphasize that prebiotics serve as valuable agents for preventing and treating colon cancer.
5. Possibly Beneficial in Wound Healing
Another benefit of horse chestnut that’s been a feature of preliminary research is its ability to help wounds heal. While no human studies have yet been conducted, a 2006 lab study found that horse chestnut extract can help induce contraction forces in fibroblasts, cells integral to the wound healing process. When these fibroblasts contract, they potentially induce faster wound healing.
6. Might Support Fertility in Men
Understanding ways to support and maintain healthy sperm counts has become more important than ever due to the increasing rate of male infertility.
Horse chestnut supplements contain an ingredient called escin, which should not be confused with the poisonous esculin found in raw horse chestnuts. According to a 2010 research study, escin appears to safely increase the count and quality of sperm in men with varicocele-associated infertility, possibly through the same mechanisms by which horse chestnut positively impacts chronic venous insufficiency.
Varicocele-associated infertility, caused by enlarged varicose veins within the scrotum, affects 15 out of 100 men overall and 40 out of 100 men with diagnosed or known infertility.