If you do research on varicose veins, you will eventually find articles on horse chestnut, a natural supplement that proponents claim will ease the pain and swelling associated with vein problems.
Most of the articles describe horse chestnut as an effective treatment. A little digging shows that while this plant might have some effect on varicose vein symptoms, you should be very careful before self-prescribing it.
The same is true for all herbal treatments and supplements: They are not regulated so there is no way to prove their purity or whether each dose contains the amount of active ingredient advertised.
And in the case of horse chestnut, you need to be careful not to eat it raw because it can kill you.
Horse chestnut is a tree; it’s leaves, bark and fruit are used for several conditions. It is popular as a dietary supplement in Europe, especially Germany, where it is promoted to reduce inflammation and improve vein function, perhaps by acting as a blood thinner.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, which is run by the National Institutes of Health, “Horse chestnut is LIKELY SAFE for most people when a standardized seed extract product is taken by mouth for a short amount of time. Look for products which have had the toxic substance esculin removed. Horse chestnut products can sometimes cause side effects such as dizziness, headache, stomach upset, and itching.”
Although you can take some actions yourself to address the discomfort of varicose veins – exercise, compression stockings, elevating your legs –only medical treatments that cause the veins to disappear will permanently relieve symptoms.
Of course, whenever you consider taking herbal remedies or diet supplements, talk to a doctor about whether they would be effective or safe for you.