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Extracts of the seeds are the source of a saponin known as aescin, which has been shown to promote circulation through the veins. Aescin promotes normal tone in the walls of the veins, thereby promoting return of blood to the heart. This has made both topical and internal horse chestnut extracts popular in Europe for the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency and varicose veins.
Aescin also possesses anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to reduce edema (swelling with fluid) following trauma, particularly those following sports injuries, surgery, and head injury.
A topical aescin preparation is very popular in Europe for the treatment of acute sprains during sporting events. Horse chestnuts also contain flavonoids, sterols, and tannins.