As many as 25 million Americans suffer from varicose veins, and most of them know that the condition runs in families. But what they might not have heard is that according to Commission E (the German counterpart to the FDA), they can turn to horse chestnut to treat the problem.
Studies on thousands of patients in Europe have proven the effectiveness of the herb's active ingredient, aescin. As James Duke, author of The Green Pharmacy, explains, "Varicose veins occur when the valves in the veins that prevent blood from flowing backward don't work properly. Blood forms pools and nearby capillaries become distended and swollen, leaking blood and fluid into surrounding tissue....Aescin helps strengthen capillary cells and reduce fluid leakage."
Duke recommends purchasing the standardized extract from a natural food store or herbalist and following package instructions. "It's simply not safe to use otherwise," he cautions. VeinCare, a new formula by Quantum, Inc. in Eugene, Oregon, is another option. The product contains 300mg of horse chestnut, along with grapeseed extract and bromelain, which act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.