Members of the genus Aesculus grow as ~nd shrubs, often attaining heights of 75 feet. The designated a capsule with a thick, leathery husk Jnlains from 1 to 6 dark seeds (the nuts). As the Jries, the nuts are released. The pink and white 3 of the plant grow in clusters. The tree is native to Ikan woods and western Asia, but is now cultivated lide.
Because of their widespread prevalence, uls have been used in traditional medicine and for 'Iy of other commercial applications for centuries. s of the bark have been used as a yellow dye, and Jd has been used for furniture and packing cases.
western US, the crushed unripe seeds of the lia buckeye were scattered into streams to stupefy nd leaves were steeped as a tea to remedy lion. The horse chestnut has been used as a lal remedy for arthritis and rheumatism. Extracts lailable commercially for oral, topical, and ral administration for the management of varicose 1d hemorrhoids.
10ugh the seeds are toxic, several traditional were employed to rid them of their toxicity. /lere buried in swampy, cold ground during the ) free them of toxic bitter components, then eaten Iring after boiling. Indians roasted the poisonous eled, and mashed them, then leached the meal in er for several days, creating a meal used to make
The seeds of Aesculus contain a variety of constituents. The seed oil contains 65% to 70% d. The seeds contain protein, ash, and 74% Jrate. In addition,S triterpene oligoglycosides 3e chestnut seeds have been isolated. The main T1matory constituent aescin (escin) is present in ,1 This mixture of triterpene glycosides has been lunoassayed,7 and investigated by HPLC where :Jtained from both cotyledon and stem parts.8 aid saponins are also present in the plant. ols hippocaesculin and barringtogenol-C 21-an?we been obtained from fruit parts. Flavonol IS quercitrin and its aglycone are also found.
Coumarin glycosides found in horse chestnut include fraxin, scopolin, and their aglycones. From the seeds, a lectin and its amino acid composition have been deter?mined. Other constituents include allantoin, sterols, leucocyanidin, leucodelphinidin, tannins, adenine, adeno?sine, carotin, choline, citric, and uric acids. Members of the genus produce the toxic glycoside esculin (aesculin in some texts). This poorly characterized toxin is found in the twigs, sprouts, leaves, and nuts.
Commerical extracts of horse chestnut have been evaluated in the treatment of a number of disease states, primarily by European investi?gators. An extract of the plant (containing 50 mg of triterpene glycosides) decreases venous capillary perme?ability and appears to have a "tonic" effect on the circu?latory system. Constituent aescin inhibits the increaseof (induced) vascular permeability in mice and rats.A'commercial horse chestnut extract, which contains 70% aescin, has been found to possess a number of pharma?cologic properties in vitro and in vivo, including the ability to contract the canine saphenous isolated vein and to potentiate the contractile response to norepinephrine. The bark yields aesculin, which improves vascular resis?tance and aids in toning vein walls. This is desirable for such ailments as hemorrhoids, varicose or problematic veins, leg ulcers, or frostbite. Triterpene and steroid saponins from horse chestnut are effective in treating or preventing venous insufficiency in another report. En?zyme studies demonstrate that elastase (enzymes in?volved in turnover or perivascular substances) inhibition may be a mechanism involved.
Aesculin reduces cap?illary wall permeability by decreasing fluid retention, by increasing the permeability of capillaries, and allowing reabsorption of excess fluid back into the circulatory system. Aescin displayed moderated diuretic activity in rats, markedly increasing renal loss of sodium, chloride, and potassium. Anti-inflammatory effects of horse chestnut preparations also have been reported.
One reference reported a dosage of 20 mg/day (max) IV administration of preparation aescin to be effective in preventing' or treating post-op edema. Aescin extract reduces cutaneous capillary hyperpermeability induced by histamine or serotonin, and it decreases the formation of chemically induced rat paw edema. In patients with chronic venous insufficiency.