Aesculus hippocastanum L.

Last updated: 16 May 2016

Scientific Name

Aesculus hippocastanum L.


Aesculus asplenifolia Loudon, Aesculus castanea Gilib. [Invalid], Aesculus memmingeri K.Koch, Aesculus procera Salisb., Aesculus septenata Stokes, Hippocastanum vulgare Gaertn. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Horse chestnut [2]
India Pu [3].

Geographical Distributions

Aesculus hippocastanum is found throughout the United States and widely planted as an ornamental shade tree in the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom. [4]

Botanical Description

A. hippocastanum is a member of the  Sapindaceae family. [1]

The leaves are palmately divided into five to seven leaflets (toothed margins) on a long stalk. [4]

The flowers consist of yellow, red and white in colours produce a characteristic three-compartment fruit surrounded by a leathery husk. [4]

The seeds are brown in colour, round and glossy that enclosed in fruits. [4]


No documentation

Chemical Constituent

A. hippocastanum has been reported to contain saponins (including aescin or escin), coumarin glycosides (aesculin and aesculetin) and condensed tannins (proanthocyanidins). [5][6]

Plant Part Used

Seed, root [7]

Traditional Use

A. hippocastanum was used for pain. The roots were thought to be an analgesic and crushed into a fine powder and applied to the chest cavity in the Iroquois tribe. The same treatment was used to treat pulmonary complaints. [7]

It was also used for rheumatism when the root was used externally. Both the Mohegan and Shinnecock tribes carried A. hippocastanum in pockets as an anti-rheumatic aid. [7]

Preclinical Data


Chronic venous insufficiency

Many studies reported that A. hippocastanum is useful for the treatment or prevention of venous insufficiency. [8][9]

Anticancer activity

Beta-escin has been reported in laboratory studies to have anti-cancer effects, including apoptosis and decreasing cell proliferation in various human cancer cell lines. [10][11]

Gastric emptying inhibiting activity

The saponins contained in A. hippocastanum seed have been reported in laboratory animal studies to be inhibitory on gastric emptying and accelerate gastrointestinal transit times [12]. The method of the effects of gastric emptying inhibition was determined to involve the capsaicin-sensitive sensory nerves, the central nervous system (involvement of dopamine and dopamine receptors), and endogenous prostaglandins (PG's) [13]. Another study reported that nitrous oxide formation and prostaglandin inhibition may be involved in acceleration of the gastrointestinal tract transit [14]. Some of the saponin compounds inhibited glucose absorption by suppressing the transfer of glucose from the stomach to the small intestine and by inhibiting the glucose transport system at the small intestinal brush border [15].

Muscle contraction activity

A. hippocastanum extract induces contraction force generation in fibroblasts through activation of Rho/Rho kinase. [16]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

Chronic venous insufficiency

Several clinical studies have been reported in German literature regarding the effectiveness of A. hippocastanum seed extract in chronic venous insufficiency using human subjects. The effect of a standardized A. hippocastanum seed extract was assessed in a randomized placebo-controlled crossover double-blind trial of 22 patients with proven chronic venous insufficiency by measuring capillary filtration coefficient and the intravascular volume of the lower leg by venous-occlusion plethsmography. Three hours afer taking two capsules of a standardized preparation (600mg; each capsule containing 50 mg aescin), the capillary filtration coefficient had decreased by 22% whereas after administration of a placebo capsule it rose slightly over three hours. The difference in the effect of standardized A. hippocastanum seed extract and placebo is statistically significant. It also showed that A. hippocastanum has an inhibitory effect on edema formation via a decrease in transcapillary filtration and thus improves edema-related symptoms in venous diseases of the legs. [17][18]

Leg pain was assessed in seven placebo-controlled trials. 6 reported a significant reduction of leg pain in the A. hippocastanum groups compared with the placebo groups, while another reported a statistically significant improvement compared with baseline. One trial suggested a weighted mean difference (WMD) of 42.4 mm (95% confidence interval (CI) 34.9 to 49.9) measured on a 100 mm visual analogue scale. Leg volume was assessed in seven placebo-controlled trials. Six trials (n = 502) suggested a WMD of 32.1ml (95% CI 13.49 to 50.72) in favour of A. hippocastanum compared with placebo. One trial indicated that A. hippocastanum may be as effective as treatment with compression stockings. Adverse events were usually mild and infrequent. [19]

Antiwrinkling activity

A 3% escin A. hippocastanum gel formulation was applied topically to the skin around the eye three times daily for nine weeks to 40 healthy female volunteers. After six weeks, significant decreases in the wrinkle scores at the corners of the eye or in the lower eyelid skin were observed compared with controls. After nine weeks, similar results were obtained, suggesting a potential use of topical A. hippocastanum gel as an anti-wrinkling agent. [20]


Should be avoided in individuals with kidney or liver problems. [21]

Use with caution in patients with bleeding disorder [22] or hypermagnesemia [23].

Side effects

A. hippocastanum seed extract may increase the absorption of magnesium, use with caution in patients with hypermagnesemia. [23]

May cause minor stomach upset or rash in rare uses. [24]

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

No documentation

Age limitation

No documentation

Adverse reaction

No documentation

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation


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  4. Barceloux DG. Medical toxicology of natural substances: Foods, fungi, medicinal herbs, plants and venomous animals. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons; 2012.
  5. Yoshikawa M, Murakami T, Yamahara J. Bioactive saponins and glycosides. XII. Horse chestnut. (2): Structures of escins IIIb, IV, V and VI and Isoescins Ia, Ib and V, acylated polyhydroxyoleanene triterpene oligoglycosides, from the seeds of horse chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum L., Hippocastanaceae). Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 1998;46(11):1764-1769.
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  9. Siebert U, Brach M, Scroczynski G, Berla K. Efficacy, routine effectiveness, and safety of horsechestnut seed extract in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and large observational studies. Int Angiol. 2002;21(4):305-315.
  10. Wang XH, Xu B, Liu JT, Cui JR. Effect of beta-escin sodium on endothelial cells proliferation, migration and apoptosis. Vascul Pharmacol. 2008;49(4-6):158-165.
  11.  Patlolla JM, Raju J, Swamy MV, Rao CV. Beta-escin inhibits colonic aberrant crypt foci formation in rats and regulates the cell cycle growth by inducing p21(waf1/cip1) in colon cancer cells. Mol Cancer Ther. 2006;5(6):1459-1466.
  12. Matsuda H, Li Y, Murakami T. Effects of Escins Ia, Ib, IIa, and IIb from horse chestnuts on gastric emptying in mice. Eur J Pharmacol. 1999;368(2-3):237-243.
  13. Matsuda H, Li Y, Yoshikawa M. Possible involvement of dopamine and dopamine2 receptors in the inhibitions of gastric emptying by Escin Ib in Mice. Life Sci. 2000;67(24):2921-2927.
  14. Matsuda H, Li Y, Yoshikawa M. Roles of endogenous prostaglandins and nitric oxide in inhibitions of gastric emptying and accelerations of gastrointestinal transit by Escins Ia, Ib, IIa, and IIb in mice. Life Sci. 2000;66(3):PL41-46.
  15. Matsuda H, Murakami T, Li Y. Mode of action of escins Ia and IIa and E,Z-senegin II on glucose absorption in gastrointestinal tract. Bioorg Med Chem. 1998;6(7):1019-1023.
  16. Fujimura T, Moriwaki S, Hotta M, Kitahara T, Takema Y. Horse chestnut extract induces contraction force generation in fibroblasts through activation of Rho/Rho kinase. Biol Pharm Bull. 2006;29(6):1075-1081.
  17. Schulz V. Rational phytotherapy. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1998; p. 129-138.
  18. Bisler H, Pfeifer R, Kluken N. Effects of Horse-chestnut seed extract on transcapillary filtration in chronic venous insufficiency. Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 1986;111(35):1321-1329.
  19. Pittler MH, Ernst E. Horse chestnut seed extract for chronic venous insufficiency. [Cochrane review] in: The Cochrane Library, No 11. 2002. Art No. CD003230.
  20. Fujimura T, Tsukahara K, Moriwaki S, Hotta M, Kitahara T, Takema Y. A horse chestnut extract, which induces contraction forces in fibroblasts, is a potent anti-aging ingredient. J Cosmet Sci. 2006;57(5):369-376.
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  22. Heck AM. Potential interactions between alternative therapies and warfarin. AM J Health Syst Pharm. 2000;57(13):1221-1227.
  23. Li Y, Matsuda H, Wen S. Enhancement by Escins Ib and IIb of Mg(2+) absorption from digestive tract in mice: Role of nitric oxide. Eur J Pharmacol. 2000;387(3):337-342.
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