Horse Chestnut

How does Horse Chestnut work?

Horse chestnut contains a substance that thins the blood. It also makes it harder for fluid to leak out of veins and capillaries and weakly promotes fluid loss through the urine to help prevent water retention (edema).

Are there safety concerns?

Horse chestnut is LIKELY SAFE for most people when a standardized seed extract product is taken by mouth for a short amount of time. Standardized products have been tested to contain exact amounts of a verified chemical. Look for products which have had the toxic substance esculin removed. Horse chestnut products can sometimes cause side effects such as dizziness, headache, stomach upset, and itching.

Pollen from the horse chestnut flower can cause allergic reactions. Rectal (suppository) use of horse chestnut may cause inflammation and itching in the anal area.

Raw horse chestnut seed, bark, flower, and leaf are UNSAFE and can even cause death when taken by mouth by adults or children. Signs of poisoning include stomach upset, kidney problems, muscle twitching, weakness, loss of coordination, enlarged eye pupils, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, paralysis, and stupor. Accidental ingestion of horse chestnut requires prompt medical attention. Children have been poisoned by drinking a tea made from the leaves and twigs or eating seeds.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking the raw seed, bark, flower or leaf is UNSAFE and can lead to death. Not enough is known about the safety of using horse chestnut seed extract from which the poisonous esculin has been removed during pregnancy or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid using horse chestnut if you are pregnant or nursing.

Bleeding disorders: Horse chestnut might slow blood clotting. Taking horse chestnut might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

Diabetes: Horse chestnut might lower blood sugar. If you have diabetes, watch for signs of too low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and check your blood sugar carefully.

Digestion problems: Horse chestnut seeds and bark can irritate the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Don't use it if you have bowel or stomach disorders.

Liver disease: There is one report of liver injury associated with using horse chestnut. If you have a liver condition, it is best to avoid horse chestnut.

Latex allergy: People who are allergic to latex might also be allergic to horse chestnut.

Kidney disease: There is a concern that horse chestnut might make kidney disease worse. Do not use it if you have kidney problems.

Surgery: Horse chestnut might slot blood clotting. Horse chestnut might increase the risk of bleeding if used before surgery. People using horse chestnut should stop at least 2 weeks before surgery.


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