Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Many people are affected by varicose veins and spider veins. Women in particular, who have weak connective tissue, often suffer from vein problems. The horse chestnut promises to be a remedy for improvement and to put an end to vein suffering.

In our horse chestnut test 2021 we examine the most popular products made from horse chestnut for vein problems for you. We show you what they promise, how they work and what you can really do to fight your vein problem. In our advice section we answer all the important questions about horse chestnut. Enjoy reading!




The most important

  • The horse chestnut has been valued for its healing properties for many years. The seed itself is inedible, but very useful for medicinal purposes.
  • The horse chestnut is said to have two main effects. On the one hand, it is said to have a vasoconstrictor effect, and on the other hand, it has an anti-inflammatory effect.
  • As a result, many products against venous disorders contain horse chestnut extract. It helps to relieve pain and itching in the legs and improve the condition.

Horse Chestnut: Our Selection

Buying and evaluation criteria for horse chestnut products

To find the right product for you, you should pay attention to various criteria when buying horse chestnut products. These would be, for example: Application form, dosage and other ingredients.

To help you with your purchase decision, we have briefly summarised the most important points.

By choosing the right product, you can not only save money. You also make sure that you don't give your body anything it doesn't need. Therefore, you should always make sure that the product is of high quality.

Form of application

Horse chestnut extract is available in different forms. The most common forms of horse chestnut extract are capsules, balms, gels, ointments and drops. The two main forms of application are either oral or external use.

Each form has its advantages and disadvantages - they can also be used together.

Whether smearing is better than swallowing, and when you should use which product, is explained in our advice section.

Dosage

The dosage of horse chestnut depends entirely on the type of product. While a balm, gels and ointments can be applied several times a day, there is a precise recommended dosage for capsules or drops. This is stated by the product manufacturer.

Otherwise, you can consult a doctor or pharmacist for dosage recommendations.

Other ingredients

Depending on your preference, you can choose capsules or ointments that contain only horse chestnut extract. However, in addition to horse chestnut extract, many products contain other ingredients to support the effect.

Lubricating products often contain vine leaf extract in addition to horse chestnut extract. Capsules are also available in this form. Like horse chestnut, vine leaf extract is said to have a similar effect on venous disorders.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about horse chestnuts answered in detail

In order to inform you comprehensively about the effectiveness of horse chestnuts and to give you an understanding of the current state of science, we have summarised all the important information for you in the following sections. From the question of how a horse chestnut works to home-made tinctures, we have covered everything for you.

What is a horse chestnut and how does it work?

The horse chestnut is a genus of plant from the soap tree family. Unlike the sweet chestnut, the horse chestnut is inedible but can be used for medicinal purposes.

Horse chestnut products are often recommended when suffering from itching and heaviness in the legs. It is also said to have pain-relieving properties. (4)

  • Thickening of the vascular walls: One positive effect that is said to occur with horse chestnut is the thickening of the vascular walls. Among other things, the aescin it contains is said to increase vascular tension and the tightness of the capillaries. This reduces water leakage into the tissue and the tendency to swelling and oedema in venous disorders.
  • Anti-inflammatory: The horse chestnut is also said to have an anti-inflammatory effect. It is used for its anti-inflammatory and vaso-strengthening effect not only for varicose veins, but also for ulcers, haemorrhoids and rheumatism.

The fruits of the horse chestnut are said to have several positive effects.

When and for whom is it useful to take horse chestnut products?

Horse chestnut extract is said to help with venous disorders and swollen legs. These complaints occur mainly in people with weak connective tissue.

This can affect, for example, obese people, pregnant women or people who spend a lot of time standing or sitting.

Varicose veins and spider veins affect many people. Especially people with weak connective tissue. This condition is often genetically inherited. You can counteract vein problems with enough exercise, a healthy diet and compression stockings. (Image source: Manki Kim / unsplash)

Many people develop varicose veins and spider veins in the course of their lives. Women in particular are affected. Genetic predisposition is often the cause.

However, factors such as obesity, lack of exercise or sitting or standing for too long can also promote vein disease.

Products made from horse chestnuts are said to provide relief from swollen legs and vein problems. Capsules or ointments are supposed to alleviate the symptoms and promise an improvement of the condition.

Pregnant women should only make sure to use a product without alcohol when using drops or tinctures.

What parts of the horse chestnut plant are used?

The seed of the horse chestnut is used for horse chestnut products. The brown balls that we call chestnuts are in fact the seeds of the tree. The seed consists of various active ingredient complexes.

The seeds of the horse chestnut are used to make products against venous disorders. The seeds are the brown balls in the prickly husk, which we call chestnuts. (Image source: Artur Łuczka / unsplash)

These include aescin, tannin, coumarin, triterpene saponins and flavonoids. Aescin in particular is said to help condense the walls of blood vessels and make swelling go down faster.

What types of horse chestnut are there?

As already mentioned, horse chestnut products differ mainly in the way they are used. On the one hand, there are products for oral intake, i.e. capsules, tinctures or drops.

On the other hand, there are products for external use such as ointments, gels or balms.

This table gives you a brief overview of the two types of application:

Type Description
Capsules/tincture/drops Exact dosage, relieve pain and heaviness in the legs, help against cramps in the calves, itching and swelling, very effective
Ointment/gel/balm Local application, use as needed, possible several times a day, cools the legs and reduces swelling, less effective

When it comes to the question: vein remedies swallow or smear? - there are different opinions.

A study by Ökotest found that many ointments and gels for lubrication were rated as insufficient and not effective by testers.

Although these are supposed to have a cooling effect and thus reduce swelling, they do not treat the vein condition itself. For best results, three things should be used: capsules, compression stockings and exercise. (1)

A study has shown that horse chestnut extract taken orally has the same positive results as wearing compression stockings. Leg volume decreased equally in the test persons after 12 weeks. (2, 5, 6)

Besides medicines and compression stockings, sufficient exercise is the main thing that helps against vein problems. Sports like swimming, cycling or walking are particularly good. Exercise in the fresh air is even more fun! (Image source: Emma Simpson / unsplash)

So the study concluded that horse chestnut extract is an alternative to treatment with compression stockings. Other studies have also come to this conclusion. (2, 5, 6)

But you don't have to throw the ointments, balms and gels out of the window completely. They certainly help to cool the legs and leave a pleasant feeling on the skin.

Especially in combination with a leg massage, balm and ointment are very helpful and help to relax tired and heavy legs.

How should horse chestnut be dosed?

The dosage of horse chestnut products depends entirely on the type of product. Horse chestnut capsules are usually declared with a precise dosage recommendation from the manufacturer.

You should always follow this recommendation, unless you have agreed otherwise with your doctor. Horse chestnut drops, essence or tincture are also usually labelled with a precise dosage recommendation.

The dosage for gels, ointments and balms is less strict. External application can take place several times a day if necessary. If you are unsure, it is best to discuss the dosage with a pharmacist or doctor.

What side effects can horse chestnut have?

Horse chestnut products do not usually cause side effects. When taken orally, such as in capsules or drops, itching, nausea and stomach upsets may occur.

People with a sensitive stomach are advised to take tablets or drops after a meal.

External use may only cause itching. If you are allergic, you should talk to a doctor before using it for the first time.

What are the alternatives to horse chestnut?

Unfortunately, vein problems affect many people - but how can you get relief? One very effective remedy is to strengthen veins with compression stockings. When worn, the veins are slightly compressed so that the venous valves can close completely again.

As a result, blood circulation is improved, venous weakness is alleviated and any progression of the disease is halted.

Other small steps to reduce vein disease include:

  • A balanced diet with plenty of fruit and fibre
  • More exercise and sport
  • Promote leg circulation
  • Walking barefoot and elevating the legs

Swimming, cycling and walking are the best sports for vein problems. Swimming relieves the legs and thus also the veins through the water.

Furthermore, the muscle activity and the cooling water have a positive effect on the veins. Walking and brisk walking have similar positive effects, especially in the long term.

If you have vein problems, you should avoid sports that involve sitting for long periods of time or that put a lot of pressure on your legs.

Cycling should also lead to a final congestion of the legs. For this purpose, mainly flat routes should be chosen.

People with vein problems should pay particular attention to pedalling with the ball of the foot and keeping the upper body as straight as possible. This helps to avoid vein congestion in the pelvic and hip areas.

Can I make a horse chestnut tincture myself?

There are many recipes on the internet for a homemade horse chestnut tincture or gel. For the tincture you usually only need horse chestnuts, alcohol and an airtight container. A vein gel, on the other hand, is somewhat more elaborate.

Those who are keen to experiment can make their own horse chestnut tincture or gel. For those who find this too time-consuming and laborious, there are a number of readily available products on the market.

What else can horse chestnuts be used for?

Besides their medicinal effect, horse chestnuts have another interesting use: They are popularly used as a detergent. A detergent made from horse chestnuts not only contains no unnecessary chemicals, but also comes without any packaging at all!

The white flesh of the chestnut contains many so-called saponins. These saponins foam up when they come into contact with water, making it soft and helping to dissolve grease and dirt. You can find instructions on how to make it yourself online!

Image source: dolgachov / 123rf

References (7)

1. Venenmittel – schlucken oder schmieren? DAZ_online Unabhängige pharmazeutische Informationen für Wissenschaft und Praxis der Deutschen Apotheker Zeitung
Source

2. Comparison of leg compression stocking and oral horse-chestnut seed extract therapy in patients with chronic venous insufficiency C Diehm (representing the steering committee and investigators) *, H J Trampisch, S Lange, C Schmidt The Lancet, Volume 347, Februrary 3, 1996
Source

3. Die Rosskastanie; Was macht sie so interessant für die pharmazeutische Anwendung? Österreichische Apothekerkammer (10/2018 ÖAK)
Source

4. Horse chestnut – efficacy and safety in chronic venous insufficiency: an overview Marlena Dudek-Makuch, Elżbieta Studzińska-Sroka Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia Volume 25, Issue 5, September–October 2015, Pages 533-541 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bjp.2015.05.009
Source

5. Horse-Chestnut Seed Extract for Chronic Venous Insufficiency Max H. Pittler, MD; Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, FRCP, (Edin)Arch Dermatol. 1998;134(11):1356-1360. doi:10.1001/archderm.134.11.1356
Source

6. Rational therapy of chronic venous insufficiency – chances and limits of the therapeutic use of horse-chestnut seeds extract Bertram Ottillinger & Karin Greeske BMC Cardiovascular Disorders volume 1, Article number: 5 (2001)
Source

7.

Why you can trust me?

Artikel aus Fachmagazin
Venenmittel – schlucken oder schmieren? DAZ_online Unabhängige pharmazeutische Informationen für Wissenschaft und Praxis der Deutschen Apotheker Zeitung
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Comparison of leg compression stocking and oral horse-chestnut seed extract therapy in patients with chronic venous insufficiency C Diehm (representing the steering committee and investigators) *, H J Trampisch, S Lange, C Schmidt The Lancet, Volume 347, Februrary 3, 1996
Go to source
Artikel aus Fachmagazin
Die Rosskastanie; Was macht sie so interessant für die pharmazeutische Anwendung? Österreichische Apothekerkammer (10/2018 ÖAK)
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Horse chestnut – efficacy and safety in chronic venous insufficiency: an overview Marlena Dudek-Makuch, Elżbieta Studzińska-Sroka Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia Volume 25, Issue 5, September–October 2015, Pages 533-541 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bjp.2015.05.009
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Horse-Chestnut Seed Extract for Chronic Venous Insufficiency Max H. Pittler, MD; Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, FRCP, (Edin)Arch Dermatol. 1998;134(11):1356-1360. doi:10.1001/archderm.134.11.1356
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchung
Rational therapy of chronic venous insufficiency – chances and limits of the therapeutic use of horse-chestnut seeds extract Bertram Ottillinger & Karin Greeske BMC Cardiovascular Disorders volume 1, Article number: 5 (2001)
Go to source
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