The horse chestnut tree has been used medicinally to treat a number of health-related problems, ranging from phlebitis to varicose veins. In traditional Chinese medicine, horse chestnut is used to aid in circulation and as an all-around tonic, diuretic and astringent.
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The horse chestnut is a rapidly growing tree that prefers a mild climate. It grows in regions throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. It is typically grown as an ornamental tree, because of its large leaves and showy flowers. It is not unusual for the horse chestnut to reach heights of more than 100 feet.
The fruit of the horse chestnut was used by Native Americans as food for their livestock. It was also used by Native Americans in their own diet, because the fruit of the horse chestnut is rich in carbohydrates, flavones, tannin and even some protein.
As an herbal remedy, both the bark and the fruit of the horse chestnut are used medicinally to treat many health ailments. It has an ingredient called aescin (or escin), which, when used in topical creams, can help to alleviate varicose veins, bruises and other injuries.
Large doses of horse chestnut can cause gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea. Generally, the overuse of horse chestnut topically can cause some dermal issues, such as itching.
Horse chestnut can be taken in several ways, including in pill or capsule form, in a tea or as a tincture. Both the dried fruit and the bark can be used to prepare an extract. It is suggested that only 1 to 2 tsp of extract be used per day, whether taken externally or internally.
The fruit of the horse chestnut should never be eaten raw, as it is highly toxic. You should avoid taking horse chestnut if you're on anticoagulant drugs. Horse chestnut can accelerate the action of blood thinners, such as warfarin and aspirin. Talk with your health care professional before taking any herbal remedy.
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