Natural Leg Vein Supplements: Horse Chestnut Extract
Horse chestnut extract is the only widely accepted leg vein supplement that helps patients who have varicose vein disease of the legs. Extensive German research of this extract began initially in the 1960s. This well-done medical research leads to the conclusion that the supplement had a significant reproducible benefit for relieving leg vein symptoms in patients suffering from varicose vein disease and venous insufficiency of legs. This ultimately leads to the approval for use of the supplement to treat leg vein symptoms of discomfort, swelling, and fatigue of the legs. Horse chestnut extract is very popular due to its effectiveness in vein treatments and is currently the 3rd most common single-herb product sold in Germany. The use of leg vein supplements is quickly growing worldwide due to the prevalence of vein disease.
What is a Horse Chestnut Tree?
The horse chestnut tree is a large deciduous tree (a tree that loses its leaves seasonally) that grows up to 188 feet tall and resides in southeast Europe. Historically, the tree has been widely cultivated for its beautiful and bright flower clusters that vary from white to yellow to red. The tree is closely related genetically to the Ohio buckeye tree. As the tree grows, its branches deliver an abundance of large seeds that are referred to as horse chestnuts.
How is vein medicine produced from a tree?
Horse chestnut seeds are removed from the tree and processed naturally to extract all of the active chemicals. Once the active ingredients are separated out and concentrated, they are encapsulated in the form of a tablet or capsule. The resulting medication is referred to as an “extract”. This vein supplement is routinely used by doctors throughout the world to treat symptoms attributable to varicose veins and the underlying leg vein disease called chronic venous insufficiency.
Chronic venous insufficiency, or venous reflux disease, is a condition associated with varicose veins in which the blood “pools” or abnormally accumulates in the veins of the leg due to faulty vein valves. The pooling of the blood causes the veins to stretch and become porous, causes aching, fatigue, swelling, itching, and a sense of heaviness in the legs. While horse chestnut appears to reduce these symptoms, no studies have evaluated whether it can make visible varicose veins disappear, or prevent new ones from developing.
What is the active ingredient inside of horse chestnut extract and how does it work?
The active ingredients in horse chestnuts, a leg vein supplement, appears to be a group of chemicals called saponins, of which aescin is considered the most important. Based on research, aescin appears to reduce swelling and inflammation within the veins and tissues of the legs. It is not exactly clear how aescin might work, but theories include:
1) “sealing” leaking capillaries
2) improving the elastic strength of veins
3) preventing the release of enzymes into the leg (enzymes known as glycosaminoglycan hydrolases) that then in turn damage blood vessels by breaking down collagen and opening holes in capillary walls
4) decreasing inflammation
5) blocking other various physiological events that lead to vein damage
6) Causing vasoconstriction at the microvessel or capillary level
Should I Be Taking a Leg Vein Supplements?
Possibly. The best course of action to take if you are considering leg vein supplements is to consult first with a vein specialist. A vein supplement medication is not for everyone. There is potential interaction with other medications and it should not be taken in individuals with certain other medical conditions. Therefore, you should always consult with your vein specialist before considering the medication.
In addition, you may benefit from ultrasound testing to ensure that you indeed have chronic venous insufficiency of the legs before starting the vein medication. In our experience, there are often additional therapies needed outside of medication alone. The need for these therapies is determined by an ultrasound test called a venous reflux ultrasound. Once this test is performed, the extent of your disease will be known and treatment recommendations can be provided. Other possible vein therapies can include the use of support stockings or hoses, radiofrequency vein treatments, and laser vein treatments among others. Since there is no way for you to self-diagnose accurately without a physician evaluation and ultrasound test, it is always advisable that you meet with a vein doctor prior to beginning the vein supplement.
Do you need to get a doctor’s prescription to take vein supplements?
No, this is an over-the-counter medication and does not require a prescription (similar to a vitamin). Natural supplements are not tightly regulated by the FDA and they are readily available at drugstores and supermarkets. But there can be dangers of taking these medications if you take other medications or supplements or have other underlying medical conditions. Therefore, always consults with a vein specialist prior to starting this vein supplement.
Do you have horse chestnut extract available for purchase at Austin Vein Specialists?
Yes, out of convenience to our patients we do carry this supplement in our office. We can provide the supplement to you at the time of your consultation if we feel that you will benefit from taking it. It is also available without a prescription at other locations in Austin Texas or online.
For more information or to set up an initial consultation with our vein specialist, please call (512) 339-9100.