What is Chronic Venous Insufficiency?
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) is a condition where the flow of blood through the veins is inadequate. Problems with the valves of the veins can cause the blood to flow backwards causing blood to pool in the legs. The greatest and most common symptom patients usually complain of is leg pain, which can be intensified by standing for a long period of time. Swelling in the legs and/or ankles is also a common symptom. As fluid accumulates the patient often experiences leg tightness, cramping and tingling sensations. Skin changes are often seen, varicose veins and in extreme occasions leg ulcers.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency, is a common health problem, particularly with aging. Although, this condition is not life threatening, it causes severe leg discomfort. This condition is usually treated by advising the patient to wear compression stockings. Some patients may require a vein ablation or vein stripping. Although compression stocking may improve symptoms, this often causes discomfort and has been associated with poor compliance. New studies have revealed that the daily intake of horse chestnut significantly improves symptoms of leg pain, edema and pruritus.
What is Horse Chestnut?
Horse Chestnut is a tree native to the Balkan Peninsula. This plant has been used for centuries to help relieve an array of health problems. In recent years, Horse Chestnut is primarily used as a traditional remedy for vascular symptoms such as venous insufficiency. It contains a compound called aescin which has a strong antioxidant activity that supports the vascular system by making capillaries less fragile.
Horse Chestnut and Vein Health
According to the Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association, horse chestnut seed extract is widely used throughout Europe for chronic venous insufficiency. A study performed by The University of Milano in Italy showed “[A]escin to be as effective as compression therapy for Venous Insufficiency. Aescin is significant for not just CVI, but also hemorrhoids and edema.” Aescin works by preventing the breakdown of capillary wall proteins. Another significant study performed in Germany showed that some patients were given capsules with either an aescin extract or a placebo. Those who took the aescin extract noted a “compression like” effect in the form of decreased intravascular volume; supporting the argument for horse chestnut’s benefit for venous problems in the legs.
The recommended dosage is 100-150mg daily. It is recommended to look for products that contain 16 to 20% of Aescin. Horse chestnut is a promising alternative and clinical studies have demonstrated that supplementing with horse chestnut seed extract may help relieve the pain and swelling of varicosities.