If the venous system isn’t in tip-top shape, vein disorders such as aching and swollen legs, varicose veins, and chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) can occur. The herbal remedy horse chestnut seed extract (HCSE) has become popular for the treatment of venous disorders. HCSE is known for its ability to strengthen and tone the veins.
A few years ago, the Department of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter in Britain conducted a review of the evidence regarding HCSE and CVI. The review considered all international double-blind, randomized controlled trials of HCSE for patients with CVI.
The outcome of the review was clear—HCSE’s effectiveness was confirmed in all placebo-controlled studies. They found that the use of HCSE was associated with a decrease in symptoms such as swelling in the calf and ankle, and fatigue. Five different comparative trials indicated that HCSE was just as effective as commonly prescribed standard medications. One trial showed HCSE had the same therapeutic benefits as compression therapy (stockings). Adverse effects of HCSE were infrequent and mild in the reviewed trials. The reviewers concluded that HCSE is equal to standard treatments for CVI and as such represents a valid treatment option.
Sources: Arch Dermatol 1998 Nov;134(11):1356-60; The Natural Pharmacy by S Lininger et al, Prima:1998