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The Horse Chestnut (Aesculus Hyppocastanus), is an ornamental tree of high trunk, particularly present on the sides of avenues and in the gardens.
Etymologically its name derives from the Greek and means: chestnut (castanus) for horses (hyppo), as the fruits of the tree represent a stimulating and very welcome food for these animals.
In addition to performing ornamental functions due to its considerable size, the Ippocastano also possesses various medicinal properties for the treatment of various disorders.
Horse chestnut morphology
It is a majestic tree, which can reach 25-30 meters in height (some specimens reach exceptionally up to 50 meters); it has an expanded, compact, pyramid-shaped crown, which opens up to 10 meters wide and which makes it particularly suitable for providing shading.
It has a smooth, brown-brown bark.
The branches are lenticelated, of medium length, covered with reddish buds wrapped in a gluey substance.
The leaves are deciduous, with palmated aspect, with opposite insertion; they have considerable dimensions (they can exceed 20-25 centimeters in length) and consist of 5-7 laminae with a narrow base and a pointed apex, crossed by evident ribs; they have an upper page with a bright green color and a lower page with a light green color.
The hermaphroditic flowers have a calyx with 5 sepals and a corolla with 5 petals, white with pink and red spots, gathered in panicle inflorescences of considerable size (up to 20 centimeters).
The fruits are large, greenish, round capsules, covered by short spines and formed by three valves that enclose the seed: the "crazy chestnut". They are not edible to humans and are toxic if accidentally ingested.
Horse Chestnut is considered an ubiquitous tree, which prefers cool or cold climates, present in all temperate areas of Europe.
In Italy it is widespread as it has no special needs, other than to avoid excessive proximity to the sea.
Particularly common in low-lying areas, it can be grown up to 1000 1200 meters above sea level.
The main pharmacological activities of the horse chestnut are capillary-protective and decongestant in nature and are performed through a reduction in capillary permeability and an increase in the lymphatic drainage process.
The lower capillary permeability leads to an improvement in tissue elasticity and a greater resistance of the vessel wall.
It follows a remarkable anti-inflammatory, anti-edematous and anti-exudative action.
There is an activation of blood circulation at the level of the venous district, with consequent elimination of oedematous processes in the lower limbs.
We are witnessing an attenuation of venous insufficiency, edema, the sensation of "heavy legs" and the consequent pain.
In herbal medicine this plant is also used effectively to counteract the itching caused by ulcerations related to varicose veins, thrombophlebitis, phlebitis.
A specific use is in case of hemorrhoids that appear less turgid and less painful.
Also in the cosmetic field the Ippocastano finds a very valid application to counteract the formation of cellulite, eliminated through the strengthening of drainage.
Of recent application is the use of this vegetable to mitigate disorders related to: rheumatism, neuralgia and myalgia; disorders in which its' anti-inflammatory action is extremely effective.
A repairing activity on hematomas of traumatic origin, due to the vasoconstrictor action on a capillary level, was also highlighted.
Active components in phytotherapy
The main component of the Ippocastano is the "escin", it is a compound consisting of a mixture of saponins which is the basis of its medicinal properties.
Escin, by binding to plasma proteins, decreases the activity of elastase and jaluronidase, enzymes that attack the vasal endothelium weakening its structure.
Therefore, due to the action of escin, the vessels regain elasticity and their functionality improves considerably.
It also determines a stimulation of the adrenal glands.
There are also high percentages of "flavonoids" such as quercitin and rutin, which play a trophic effect at the level of the capillary wall, increasing the elasticity of its endothelium.
The "tannins" and the "coumarins" have a remarkable anti-thrombotic power.
There are also traces of "aesculin" that belongs to the class of coumarin glycosides and that acts by improving the vessel function.
There are various ways in which the remedies derived from the Horse Chestnut can be taken
It performs a powerful febrifugal action as it contains "proanthocyanidin"
The extract of gems has a tonic drip action and a protective vessel, facilitating the blood flow to the level of the congested vessels by blood stasis (varicose veins). There is a sudden narrowing of the varices and a decrease in the associated swelling.
They are used for the preparation of decoctions, infusions or herbal teas.
It is obtained by diluting the dry extract in an alcoholic solution and is taken from 15 to 20 drops (corresponding to about 40 grams) dissolved in water twice a day, away from meals.
* Dry extract
It is in the form of capsules: the recommended dose is 2 capsules (about 250 mg extract) per day, preferably between meals.
It is used for topical use, in case of rheumatism, myalgia, muscle tears.
Any type of therapy should be continued for at least four weeks.
The side effects, generally of a minor entity, are those affecting the gastro-intestinal tract and consist of: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, disappointment.