Horse chestnut: properties and contraindications – GreenStyle

Horse chestnut: properties, benefits and contraindications

L’ippocastano it represents one of the most widespread ornamental plants in Italy, so much so that its presence is almost ubiquitous throughout the boot. Also known as chestnut of India, this tree is mostly known for its seeds, also called matte or genge chestnuts in popular tradition.

Since it is not used in the kitchen, horse chestnut is generally considered to be an ornamental variety. Yet the plant offers some interesting properties and unique health benefits, such as natural remedy. Obviously, before choosing natural treatments or grandmother’s remedies, it is always necessary to evaluate the opinion of your doctor, to evaluate the opportunity and the possible interaction with other drugs. Horse chestnut also cannot be a substitute for the therapy prescribed by the specialist.

Horse chestnut: what it is

L’Aesculus hippocastanum – commonly known as horse chestnut or Indian chestnut – is a tree with a large bearing, belonging to the family of Sapindaceae. Present throughout Europe, it is chosen above all as an ornamental variety, for its solid and majestic stem, as well as for the green and rich fronds in front. Not surprisingly, it is one of the most chosen plants to create areas of showy shade.

In the name of this plant variety it has a fascinating etymology. In fact, the plant produces seeds with similar features to chestnuts, in the past destined to feed horses. Hence the name: horse chestnut is in fact the union between the Greek words “hippos” and “castanon”, precisely horse and chestnut.

The characteristics of the plant

Horse chestnut, plant

The plant it is characterized by a showy posture, with a stem over 25 meters high and a very important crown. If not subjected to continuous pruning, and in favorable climatic conditions, the branches of the tree can reach 8-10 meters of expansion. A peculiarity, the latter, which has imposed the horse chestnut among the favorite cries to create shaded areas.

Horse chestnut leaves and flowers

Indian chestnut flowers

This tree produces leaves green and large, deciduous and webbed in shape, with a slightly serrated profile. In the phase of maximum growth, the leaf can reach up to 20 centimeters in length and has 5 or 7 laminae, all derived from the same petiole.

The plant produces characteristics flowers, between white and rosé, gathered in panicle bunches. The maximum flowering is reached between April and May.

Fruits and seeds of the Indian chestnut Horse chestnut, fruits and seeds

The Indian chestnut produces great ones fruits round in shape, characterized by a hard and greenish skin, furrowed by small and solid quills. The fruit has the sole function of protecting the internal seeds, what are commonly called chestnuts genge.

Outwardly, the seme looks similar to the classic chestnut. The shape is more rounded and the dimensions more generous, while the external surface appears smoother and more shiny. Despite this similarity, the seeds are not edible: in addition to producing a very unpleasant taste, they are quite toxic for humans. For centuries, however, they have been used in horse nutrition.

Therapeutic properties of horse chestnut

Chestnuts genge

Although guinea chestnuts are not used in cooking, some of them have been known for several centuries therapeutic properties. In fact, the seeds represent one of the most popular natural remedies for some common problems, even if the use is exclusively external.

Horse chestnut is known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and vasoprotective action, not surprisingly it is one of the most popular ingredients for creams and other discoveries designed to bring relief to swollen legs. The merit of these properties is due to some active ingredients of which the seeds are rich, such as saponins, proanthocyanidins, tannins, flavonoids and escin.

In particular, studies conducted in recent decades have shown a certain efficacy of horse chestnut in counteracting the action of two enzymes, theelastasi and the hyaluronidase, responsible over time for the degradation of blood vessel walls.

Indian chestnuts: the health benefits

Indian chestnuts

Given the unique composition of the active ingredients contained in the seeds, horse chestnut has long been known for its health benefits. The chestnuts of India are in fact collected and processed to create the most varied natural remedies, mainly for external use.

But which ones advantages can make the use of horse chestnut-based creams, dyes and gemmoderivati?

Horse chestnut for hemorrhoids


Horse chestnut is best known for its beneficial effects on the treatment of hemorrhoids and of anal fissures. Since its active ingredients stimulate venous microcirculation, limit blood stagnation and promote the elasticity of the vein walls, the remedy can be useful for managing the lighter stages of hemorrhoids. That is, those who do not need surgery.

Usually applied in cream, the invention helps to reduce itching and burning, limits swelling and pain, as well as strengthens the blood vessels involved, reducing the risk of prolapse. Furthermore, topical treatment facilitates the stool expulsion phase, calming pain, sensation of foreign bodies in the rectum and bleeding.

Cellulite, the help of the mad chestnut

Cellulite cream

Horse chestnut derivatives are also useful for managing cellulite, an aestheticism common to all women. Always with topical application, through compresses or creams, it can in fact help to smooth the skin and limit the effect of orange peel skin.

Still, it can incentivize the microcirculation and the consequent disposal of fats, to say goodbye to the accumulated fat pads in the thighs and buttocks.

Fit capillaries with horse chestnut


The chestnut of India can also be used as a preventive treatment to strengthen the capillaries, so as to be able to take advantage of better blood circulation even at the peripheral level, such as on the lower limbs.

In cream it has both invigorating and draining action, therefore it stimulates a higher blood supply to the tissues and, at the same time, eliminates subcutaneous swelling. For the same characteristics, it can be used to speed up the reabsorption of bruises and hematomas, limiting their duration and purplish appearance.

Horse chestnut: how to use it


As a natural remedy, horse chestnut is mostly used as an external or topical solution. For this purpose, the seeds, the bark and the extracts obtained from the buds are processed to create products of various types, such as creams, lotions and serums. But in which formats is this discovery available today?

Mother tincture, drops and supplements

The extracts and active ingredients of Indian chestnut are today most widespread in three formats, available in the main herbalists.

  • Mother tincture: it is obtained from the maceration and fermentation of all the useful parts of the horse chestnut, it is distributed in bottles with a special dispenser in drops;
  • Creme: plant extracts are added to the ingredients of moisturizing and invigorating creams for circulation, often together with calendula and chamomile;
  • Supplements: recently introduced supplements in tablets, made with concentrates of active ingredients of horse chestnut, deprived of the toxic parts of the seeds.

Horse chestnut: contraindications

Stomach ache

Except for those suffering from allergy o Horse chestnut intolerances, most of the topical and external products based on horse chestnut are well tolerated. In the presence of skin irritation, redness or dermatitis, it is better to discontinue the treatment.

Excerpts might instead determine gastrointestinal effects, such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and constipation. As a rule, the natural remedy is not taken orally. On the other hand, tablets and capsules are usually devoid of the parts considered toxic to the human body.

Final tips

Horse chestnut, acorns

Horse chestnut can be a valuable ally for health, especially in the presence of hemorrhoids, circulation problems in the lower limbs, bruises and other disorders related to the capillaries. The use is mostly for topical use, while the seed of the plant is not edible, as it can have irritating or toxic effects.

Before evaluating the use of grandmother’s remedies obtained from genge chestnuts, it is always necessary to evaluate the opinion of your doctor.

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