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Is Horse Chestnut Effective for Hemorrhoids?
Horse Chestnut is a supplement commonly used to improve vein health and increase blood circulation. However, it can also be used as a treatment for hemorrhoids. Find out how below.
There may be no other health problem that is quite as annoying as hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids make life difficult in a multitude of ways. Elimination is difficult, as is simply sitting or walking when flare-ups are bad.
There are hundreds of topical treatments, medical ointments, and supplements designed to reduce hemorrhoid symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 50 percent of people have had to deal with mild or severe hemorrhoids by the age of 50. However, the prevalence of treatment options does not indicate the effectiveness of any method.
One of the most effective supplements for hemorrhoids is the use of horse chestnut- both orally and topically. You can significantly reduce hemorrhoid flare-ups with the use of horse chestnut, and may even make the problem a thing of the past.
Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) is a tree that is cultivated for its flower clusters. The tree typically has white, yellow, or red flowers. The tree is related to the Ohio buckeye tree (but the buckeye tree does not have the same properties and is posionous). The tree produces large seeds, which are called horse chestnuts.
The seeds and flowers have been a part of traditional medicine for thousands of years. In ancient Europe, carrying the seeds in your pocket was thought to ward off arthritis and rheumatism. Today, we know that eating the chestnut seeds has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on the body, and horse chestnut is used in many natural arthritis treatments.
In the 1800s, the French were the first to use horse chestnut extract for treating hemorrhoids, according to the New York University Medical Center. The German Magazine, Curtis’s Botamcal, published an article about the back story behind the horse chestnut’s name in 2000. The name “horse chestnut” was given to the plant because it was thought that horses ate the seeds to clear chest complaints and help with breathing. However, the fruit and seeds are actually poisonous to horses.
Horse chestnuts are used to treat many medical conditions. The main ingredient in horse chestnut has an anti-inflammatory effect, and so it is used to treat many conditions like vein diseases, reduce inflammation after surgery, and to reduce arthritis symptoms.
Horse chestnut is effect in treating hemorrhoids because hemorrhoids are a form of varicose veins. Horse chestnut works by improving the strength of veins, prevent the breakdown of capillaries, and decrease inflammation.
A 1997 study published in the book “Rational Phytotherapy: A Physicians' Guide to Herbal Medicine” showed that in a double-blind study of 80 people with hemorrhoids, within two weeks, pain, swelling, and bleeding were significantly reduced. Patients were prescribed 40 mg of aescin (an extract of horse chestnut seeds) 3 times a day for two weeks. At the end of the trial, patients reported less bleeding, swelling, and pain and hemorrhoid size was significantly reduced and apparent in a clinical evaluation.
In the 1960s, German researchers started to study the medicinal effects of horse chestnut. According to the NYU Medical Center, horse chestnut is also effective at treating vein break-downs and disease, reduce inflammation, help healing after surgery, heal bruises (when applied topically), and treat varicose veins in the legs. It is also used to treat venous insufficiency, which causes blood to pool in the legs and can cause swelling, heart problems, and blood clots.
Horse chestnut contain several chemicals of saponins, and of these, aescin is the most helpful for treating hemorrhoids. Aescin reduces swelling and inflammation, according to NYU Medical Center. Aescin is responsible for sealing leaking capillaries, improving elasticity in veins, preventing the release of the enzymes glycosaminoglycan hydrolases which break-down collagen, and blocking other parts of vein damage.
In the German study on hemorrhoids and horse chestnut, the participants took 40 mg of aescin three times a day. According to New York Medical Center, a 300 mg dose of horse chestnut contains about 50 mg of aescin. The average recommended dose is to take 300 mg of horse chestnut extract twice a day.
Check to ensure that the toxic material esculin was removed from your extract. A delayed-release formula will reduce the side effects of the supplement, which can cause nausea or other gastrointestinal upsets.
According to the FDA, horse chestnut is not considered “safe” because it does contain toxic ingredients when raw. This is caused by esculin. Side effects of consuming esculin include nausea, vomiting, salivation, headache, convulsions, diarrhea, and respiratory failure. To combat these side effects, most manufacturers remove esculin from the supplement.
According to a 1996 study conducted by the University of Heidelberg teaching hospital, using a controlled-release version of the supplement will reduce incidence of irritation to below 1 percent, no matter what the dose of the supplement is. Germans have used horse chestnut as a supplement for a variety of illnesses for over 50 years without serious harmful effects.
A 1989 German study on animals showed that even doses seven times higher than normal did not offer harmful effects to the animal. According to NYU Medical Center, individuals with kidney problems should avoid taking horse chestnut. In addition, pregnant women, nursing women, and young children should avoid the supplement as there have been no studies that have looked at the safety of the supplement for these groups. However, the 1989 German animal study showed that horse chestnut supplements with doses 10 times the normal human dose did not harm pregnant rats and rabbits. It was not until the dose reached 30 times higher than the human dose that problems started to occur in pregnant rats and rabbits. However, you should always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements while pregnant or nursing.
According to the 1995 book “Botanical Toxicity,” horse chestnut can increase the effects of blood-thinning drugs to dangerous levels.
If you are pregnant, you may naturally find that you get hemorrhoids even with a clean diet. The extra pressure from the uterus and other internal organs causes your hemorrhoids to flare up. The FDA does not recommend that pregnant women take horse chestnut, although the German studies above showed that horse chestnut did not cause problems in animal pregnancies. However, if you or your midwife or doctor are concerned about horse chestnut during pregnancy, you may want to try other supplements that have been proven safe for use during pregnancy, eating a low-fiber diet, or sticking to topical treatments.
Oral medications have been proven to reduce swelling and pain with hemorrhoids. You can reduce your symptoms by taking horse chestnut extracts. Some hemorrhoid supplements contain a mixture of ingredients including horse chestnut. However, for maximum effectiveness, make sure you at getting at least 40 mg of aescin three times a day along with your other supplements.
You can also take horse chestnut by itself. The recommended dose is about 300 mg twice daily. Discuss with your doctor your plans to take horse chestnut before adding any supplements to your normal routine. It is possible that horse chestnut can interfere with other blood-thinning medications.
Many hemorrhoid topical treatments contain horse chestnut. You can use an ointment or cream containing horse chestnut to help reduce swelling and inflammation at the site of the hemorrhoid. However, if bleeding is already present at the site, horse chestnut may increase bleeding temporarily. You may want to wait until bleeding has subsided before applying horse chestnut cream to the area.
Along with horse chestnut, there are several other supplements that will help reduce symptoms and pain of hemorrhoids. These supplements include:
Web MD states that butcher’s broom is used to heal hemorrhoids. Butcher’s broom is used as a laxative, to improve vein health, reduce itching, and reduce swelling. It is also used to help reduce leg swelling and to prevent blood from pooling in the legs.
Bilberry is a known aid for hemorrhoids, according to Web MD. Bilberry reduces inflammation and can also improve circulation and vein health.
Cayenne is a stimulant that helps hemorrhoids in several ways. It improves digestion, making elimination easier. It can help prevent bleeding from hemorrhoids. It can also reduce any itching and discomfort from hemorrhoids.
There are a variety of steps you can take to improve hemorrhoid symptoms. One of the first steps is to live a healthy lifestyle. If you want to eliminate your hemorrhoids for good, take the following steps:
When you follow these steps, you should see a vast reduction in hemorrhoid flare-ups.
Just because you suffer from hemorrhoids now does not mean you will have to suffer forever. Although some people do have a higher propensity for hemorrhoid flare-ups, most cases can be treated and cured without surgery or medical procedures. You don’t have to look to your doctor to cure your case of hemorrhoids. All you have to do is look in your kitchen. What you eat and what supplements you take can have a vast impact on how likely you are to get hemorrhoid flare-ups.
Botanical Toxicology. Protocol J Bot Med. 1995;1:147-158.
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