Is horse chestnut a natural hemorrhoids remedy? It has not been tested or approved for this purpose by the FDA in the United States, but there is a long history of usage by Europeans. Horse chestnut is an herb that strengthens and tones veins. It is used to alleviate swelling in the legs caused by varicose veins. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins. This article looks at what science and experience tell us about its value as a hemorrhoids remedy.
After many years of testing throughout Europe, there is strong scientific evidence that horse chestnut seed extract is an effective treatment for varicose veins. European studies found that it increased blood flow in veins and strengthened connective tissue. Aescin, a major ingredient of horse chestnut, is the key. It strengthens the walls of veins, reduces inflammation, and improves circulation.
Hemorrhoids are varicose veins found in the anus and the rectum. So, can we conclude that horse chestnut is an effective hemorrhoids remedy? Not necessarily. Even in Europe, there is no comparable testing of this herb as a hemorrhoids remedy.
However, the use of horse chestnut seeds to treat hemorrhoids successfully has been documented as early as 1896 in France. Europeans have long applied the herb as a cream and eaten it to prevent and treat varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
The following doses (containing 50-75 mg aescin) have been tested for safety (but not by the FDA) in adults, ages 18 and older:
- 300 mg every 12 hours, for up to 12 weeks
- 600 mg of extract per day
Still, several critical precautions need to be observed before you consider using this solution.
Risks Associated with Using Horse Chestnuts as a Hemorrhoids Remedy
- Pregnant women
- Breast-feeding women
Here are some absolute don’ts:
- Don’t use this herb if you’re pregnant, think you might be pregnant, or are trying to get pregnant.
- Don’t use it if you’re breast-feeding.
- Don’t give it to children, or anyone under 18.
- Never eat horse chestnuts raw. The seeds, flowers, leaves, and bark contain a poisonous ingredient, esculin. This highly toxic form can lead to poisoning and death.
Watch out for these symptoms of poisoning:
- Confusion and coordination problems
- Muscle twitching
When taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding (for example, aspirin, ibuprofen, blood thinners), the raw form of this herb further increases that risk. Children have died after eating raw horse chestnut seeds or tea made from the leaves and twigs. Again, never risk eating any form of the herb raw.
Don’t use this herb if you’re diabetic, hypoglycemic, or suffer from other blood-sugar related conditions without the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider. Based on animal studies, even the extract may lower your blood sugar.
How to Shop Safely for Horse Chestnut
When properly processed, horse chestnut seed extract contains little or no esculin. Only take high-quality, or standardized, extract purchased from a reputable health supplements supplier. Then, read the directions on the label and follow them. Don’t exceed the recommended dosage.
The most common form is standardized at 16-20% aescin. Many who have used this herb successfully as a hemorrhoids remedy recommend taking capsules containing 50-300 mg of aescin two to three times daily. Expect your hemorrhoids to improve within six weeks.
Because there are so many precautions associated with taking horse chestnut seed extract, it’s a very good idea to discuss whether you should use it as a hemorrhoids remedy with your healthcare provider. Even the properly processed and standardized extract can result in side effects, such as itching or nausea. Other symptoms of an allergic reaction include dizziness, trouble breathing, a rash, or swelling.