The European history of the horse chestnut is relatively recent , this tree not having been established until late in Europe, it is therefore difficult to trace the complete history knowing that it comes from the Balkans, northern Greece. , Turkey, the Caucasus and northern India.
A little history
In 1565, the Flemish doctor Guillaume Quackelbeen , who was then in Constantinople, sent branches and fruits of this tree to Italy, to Matthiole who would describe and represent them. Ten years later, what can be considered the first chestnut plantation in Vienna is carried out. Four centuries ago, it appeared in France, in Paris, under the care of Dr Bachelier, who also sent chestnuts from Constantinople.
He gained a foothold in Strasbourg in 1691 and, in the 18th century, it quickly spread to many European countries, including Great Britain where Dr Bach would have the opportunity to meet him at the beginning of the 20th century in order to concoct some of them. its famous Bach flowers , White Chestnut and Chestnut Bud .
The Latin adjective which qualifies it, hippocastanum (that is to say “horse chestnut”) refers directly to a veterinary use advocated by the Turks. The story goes that chestnut has long been used to heal sluggish horses. The Latin name is therefore marked with this anecdote but it does not seem that this property has been exploited in Europe.
What are the main pharmacological properties of horse chestnut seeds?
Anti-inflammatory, anti-exuding and anti-edematous properties:
The anti-edematous, anti-inflammatory and venotonic properties of aescin are mainly related to a molecular mechanism which allows better entry of ions into the ducts, thus increasing venous tension under in vitro and in vivo conditions .
Horse chestnut indeed promotes the secretion of prostaglandins F2α, and exert a corticomimetic activity, which would strengthen its anti-inflammatory activity .
Anti-free radical and antioxidant properties:
In vitro , the extract of horse chestnut exerts in particular a strong activity of scavenging the various forms of active oxygen such as the superoxide anion, the hydroxyl radical, singlet oxygen and lipid peroxides. It protects against the cellular damage they induce.
Four major isomers of aescin have been demonstrated in horse chestnut seed extracts. The highest aescin content with the highest antioxidant potential is obtained with a methanolic extract.
Venous and capillary protective properties:
At the venous level:
The aescin decreases blood viscosity index, and exerts a tonic action and vasoconstrictor on the vein wall. Its venotonic and anti-inflammatory mechanism also involves interference with lysosomal enzymes: in vitro , it specifically inhibits hyaluronidase, an enzyme involved in the renewal of the main components of the amorphous perivascular substance, and responsible in particular for degrading hyaluronic acid, a glycosaminoglycan widely distributed in connective tissue and a major component of the extracellular matrix. It also protects proteoglycans, constituents of the vascular wall.
A review of the literature from 2006 indicates that randomized double-blind and crossed clinical trials, carried out in patients suffering from chronic venous insufficiency for 4 of them and varicose veins for the fifth, have demonstrated the significant effectiveness of the drug. oral administration of preparations containing a fresh plant extract of Aesculus hippocastanum . These trials show a reduction in edema in the leg, through objective plethysmographic measurement, and subjective relief of heaviness, pain, nighttime cramps, tension and itching in the lower extremities. These studies have shown that these extracts are safe, well tolerated and accepted, and constitute a real therapeutic possibility in patients with mild to moderate venous insufficiency.
At the capillary level:
Horse chestnut seed increases capillary resistance , is a capillary constrictor and decreases transcapillary filtration, responsible for edema.
Are there any precautions for use with horse chestnut?
- Horse chestnut contains esculin, a glucoside from the coumarin group, which is toxic in high doses.
- The EMA specifies that the use of horse chestnut is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women, as well as in children under 18 years old.
- Avoid in case of latex allergy.
- Nephrotoxicity at high doses therefore contraindication in renal failure.
Precautions for use:
- Stop taking horse chestnut 72 hours before surgery, to limit the risk of bleeding.
Drugs interactions :
- An interaction is possible with warfarin and anti-vitamin K, which requires medical monitoring and monitoring of the INR when starting and stopping treatment with horse chestnut extract.
- In theory, the hypoglycemic effect of horse chestnut can be added to that of hypoglycemic drugs.
- Possibility of interaction with plants and anticoagulant drugs.
How to take Horse Chestnut and in what dosage?
- As a food supplement, in the form of a standardized fresh plant extract, in capsules .
- Standardized fluid extract of fresh plant : 5 to 10 ml per day in a glass of water.
- Full suspension of fresh plant : 5 to 15 ml per day in a glass of water.
- Hydroalcoholic extract : 20 to 25 drops diluted in a drink, 2 to 3 times a day.
Medical bibliographic sources and clinical trials :
- Bruneton J., Pharmacognosy, phytochemistry, medicinal plants, Tec & Doc, 1999
- Masaki H. et al., Active-oxygen scavenging activity of plant extracts, Biol Pharm Bull., 1995
- Suter A. et al., Treatment of patients with venous insufficiency with fresh plant horse chesnut seed extract ; a review of 5 clinical studies, Adv Ther., 2006
- Facino R.M. et al., Anti-elastase and anti-hyaluronidase activities of saponins and sapogenins fromHedera helix, Aesculus hippocastanum, and Ruscus aculeatus : factors contributing to their efficaacy in the treatment of venous insufficiency, Arch Pharm (Weinheim), 1995
- Kukula-Koch W. et al., Influence of extrahent on antioxidant capacity of Aesculus hippocastanum seeds, Nat Prod Res., 2015
- Sirtori C.R., Aescin : pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and therapeutic profile, Pharmacol Res., 2001