Botanical name: Aesculus hippocastanum
This large tree hails from the Balkans to the Himalayas, and has no relation to common Chestnuts. The name ‘Horse Chestnut’ may refer to the use of its fruits as fodder and to treat coughs in horses and cattle.
Horse Chestnut is primarily used internally for circulatory disorders, including stroke, heart attack, arteriosclerosis, chronic venous insufficiency, varicose veins, phlebitis, chilblains, haemorrhoids and inflammation. It has been found to reduce capillary permeability, local oedema, and improve the strength and tone of the veins. May also be used externally as a lotion for the same conditions.
Horse Chestnut also seems to support male fertility, in those suffering from varicocele-associated infertility, according to a 2010 research study. This type of infertility is caused by enlarged varicose veins within the scrotum and affects 15 out of 100 men overall and 40 out of 100 men with diagnosed or known infertility.
Horse chestnut contains powerful antioxidants, which can help your body to fight free radical damage and more effectively fight disease. It also shows promise for its anti-cancer effects, though this needs further study.
Traditionally, Horse Chestnut was also used to alleviate joint pain, bladder and digestive issues, fever and leg cramps, though some of these uses have not been researched.
Preparation: 1 -2 tsp per cup. Steep covered for 10 minutes. Drink 3 times daily.
References: David Hoffman (1990), The New Holistic Herbal, p. 206;
Deni Brown (2002), New Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses, pp. 104.