Horse chestnut



Aesculus hippocastanum (Horse chestnut), this perennial tree of about 20 to 30 meters tall, from which we can find many different species. The flowers of horse chestnut tree are very colorful and as you can see in the picture, they are disposed in very nice clusters. The name Hippocastanum derives from the Latin word for Horse chestnut [1]. 

In spite its popularity in some Mediterranean countries, where it is part of traditional recipes, horse chestnut has been proven to exert many health benefits. Scientist and laboratories have investigated some of its active constituents as aescin, a saponin that has been used to treat venous and microcirculatory problems, proanthocyanidin A-2, effective to lower cholesterol levels...etc. Let's see some of them. Image: See credits below [. 

WARNING: Horse chestnut is NOT EDIBLE!, see warning at the end of this page.


Family: Sapindaceae

Genus: Aesculus

Common name: Horse chestnut, Conker tree



Among the active constituents of Horse chestnut we should highlight aescin, extracted from the cotyledons and used to treat vascular disorders [2]. Aescin is a saponin present in chestnut used for its medicinal properties in many herbal remedies. One of the most important properties of aescin is its ability to constrict blood vessels, making them less leaky and reducing this way swelling [6], increasing also venous tone [7].

Aescin is a saponin present in Horse chestnut used for its medicinal properties in many herbal remedies. One of the most important properties of aescin is its ability to constrict blood vessels, making them less leaky and reducing this way swelling [6], increasing also venous tone [7]. This vasoconstriction property is similar to that one we saw in Tannins present in wine and Witch hazel.

AESCULUS HIPPOCASTANUM HORSE CHESNUTAescin gel or aescin cream is used to treat venous and microcirculatory alterations (varicose veins, chronic venous insufficiency) and other similar microcirculatory ailments [8]. It seems that these properties are exerted mainly due to the presence of the escinates. Image right: Gewöhnliche Rosskastanie (Aesculus hippocastanum), Mai 2008, by Maja Dumat under Creative Commons License (CC BY 2.0).

At least one study on the protective effect of aescin on liver induced injuries in mice showed that aescin exerted a protective effect on endotoxin-induced liver injury [11].

Another important active constituent of Horse chestnut is a Tannin, the proanthocyanidin A-2, found to be very effective to lower cholesterol levels in a clinic study carried out on certain traditional medicinal herbs rich on tannins.

Last but not least, Flavonoids, kaempferol and quercetin can also be found in the seeds of Aesculus hippocastanum and also in its flowers. Others: Coumarin glycosides aesculin, aesculoside, fraxin, flavones, Tannins.



Among the many medicinal herbal remedies making use of horse chestnut, we can highlight its use as a very effective piles remedy [3][5], for either bland or bleeding [4].

Horse chestnut has been claimed to be a very effective herbal remedy for the treatment of piles Among some of its properties the presence of tannins makes Horse chestnut a powerful astringent. Other herbal properties of horse chestnut include anti-pyretic and anti-thrombic properties [4]. Ringworm and haemorrhoids have also been treated externally with Horse chestnut.



Aesculus hippocastanum (horse chestnut) has also been a source of raw material for the cosmetic industry. The waste water of Horse chestnut has been used to obtain:

Other studies on Aesculus hippocastanum demonstrated that extracts of Horse chestnut can generate contraction forces in fibroblasts, helping to eliminate wrinkles with a topical application, something that demonstrate that Aesculus hippocastanum can be used as an anti-aging ingredient by the cosmetics industry [10].


Horse chestnut or Aesculus hippocastanum is NOT EDIBLE. Seeds of this species are known to contain chemical compounds toxic to vertebrates [13].


[1] Handbook On Medicinal Herbs With Uses By H. Panda p. 53.
[2] Ryogenesis and synthetic seed, Volume 1 By Y. P. S. Bajaj
[3] The Golden Beads, p. 9.
[4] Essence of Each Drug in Materi, p. 5.
[5] Drug Pictures of Leading Medicines By S. G. Palsule p. 9.
[6] Herbs demystified: a scientist explains how the most common herbal remedies really work By Holly Phaneuf p. 199.
[7] Leung's encyclopedia of common natural ingredients: used in food, drugs, and cosmetics By Ikhlas A. Khan, Ehab A. Abourashed p. 365.
[8] Antihypertensive effects of tannins isolated from traditional Chinese herbs as non-specific inhibitors of angiontensin converting enzyme. Liu JC, Hsu FL, Tsai JC, Chan P, Liu JY, Thomas GN, Tomlinson B, Lo MY, Lin JY. Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Taipei Medical University-Wan Fang Hospital, No 111, Hsing Lung Road, Section 3, Wen Shan District, Taipei City 117, Taiwan.
[9] Flavonoids in horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) seeds and powdered waste water byproducts. Kapusta I, Janda B, Szajwaj B, Stochmal A, Piacente S, Pizza C, Franceschi F, Franz C, Oleszek W. Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation, State Research Institute, ul. Czartoryskich 8, 24-100 Pulawy, Poland.
[10] A horse chestnut extract, which induces contraction forces in fibroblasts, is a potent anti-aging ingredient. Fujimura T, Tsukahara K, Moriwaki S, Hotta M, Kitahara T, Takema Y. Biological Science Laboratories, Kao Corporation, 2606, Akabane, Ichikai-machi, Haga-gun, Tochigi, 321-3497, Japan.
[11] At least one study on the protective effect of Aescin on liver induced injuries in mice showed that aescin exerted a protective effect on endotoxin-induced liver injury.
[12] Plant names in other languages: Porcher Michel H. et al. 1995 - 2020, Sorting Origanum Names. Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database - A Work in Progress. Institute of Land & Food Resources. The University of Melbourne. Australia. < > (2007).
[13] [Seed tolerance to predation: Evidence from the toxic seeds of the buckeye tree (Aesculus californica; Sapindaceae). Mendoza E, Dirzo R. Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-5020 USA.
[14] Pixibay image under Public Domain License CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0).