Horse chestnut

Horse chestnut, Conker tree, Uses of Horse chestnut

Aeswlus hippocastanum Hippocastanaceae Also called Conker tree.

A native if Anatolia, the horse chestnut is an elegant tree that can reach a height if 30m. It is thought that the tree gets its name from the tiny horseshoe-shaped marks complete with what look like nail holes - that cover its branches. The fruit, a prickly capsule, contains the large seed, known as a conker.

Parts used

  • Conkers (seeds) and bark
  • Conkers are collected in September and October when ripe. . Conkers are used raw or stabilised by being soaked in alcohol.
  • The bark is stripped from the branches in spring, primarily to extract aesculetin.
  • Conkers and bark are used in infusions, powders and dry or soluble extracts. They may be combined with other herbs, such as butcher's broom.
  • Horse chestnut is also made into ointments, creams and gels.


Conkers contain a saponin known as aescin, which constricts blood vessels, counteracting oedema (swelling) and inflammation. They also contain flavonoids and tannins. The bark is rich in coumarins, notably aesculetin, which has vitamin P properties. Vitamin P is a term used for bioflavonoids - pain-relieving substances that have an antibacterial effect and promote circulation


  • Do not give to children.
  • Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Avoid if suffering from kidney disease or damage.
  • Individuals taking anticoagulant drugs (warfarin or aspirin) should seek advice from a doctor before taking horse chestnut.
  • Used externally the plant may, in rare cases, cause an allergic reaction.

Medicinal uses

Horse chestnut is an effective treatment for vein disorders and fragile capillaries. In 1994 French scientists showed that aescin increases blood flow, decrease capillary permeability, has an antiinflammatory action and protects against free radical damage. Horse chestnut is therefore a good remedy for haemorrhoids, varicose veins and chronic (long-term) venous insufficiency, which can cause oedema (swelling) in the lower legs. Topical aescin gels are prescribed for haemorrhoids, ulcers, varicose veins, sports injuries and bruising


This hardy tree can be grown from seed - a conker. Plant in a rich, welldrained soil in sun or light shade.


For internal use

TO TREAT vein and capillary disorders including oedema, piles and varicose veins INFUSION Put 1 sachet into 200m I of boiling water. Drink one to three times a day after meals.

CAPSULES (75mg) Take 2-3 capsules a day, at mealtimes. LIQUID EXTRACT Put 20 drops in a glass of water and take three times a day.

TABLETS (300mg) Take 1 tablet a day.

For external use

TO TREAT haemorrhoids (piles), sports injuries
CREAM, GEL, OINTMENT Apply three or four times a day.



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