Horse chestnut – Aesculus hippocastanum

“For luck you carried a horse chestnut and a rabbit’s foot in your right pocket. The fur had been worn off the rabbit’s foot long ago and the bones and the sinews were polished by the wear. The claws scratched in the lining of your pocket and you knew your luck was still there.”

― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Description of the plant:

  • the horse chestnut is up to 20 m tall tree with large palmate leaves, which mostly are with 7 leaves assembled together. Great cluster flowers stand upright and are conical in shape. The flowers are quite white or red with yellow and red stains. Quiver fruit is prickly green shell containing 1-2 fruit with glossy dark brown color and white spots.

Flowering time:

  • In May, and fruiting in September and October.

Smell and Taste:

  • fruits and flowers are almost odorless and tart taste. Bark wood during drying smells like ammonia and is with a bitter taste.

Folks wrongly believe that chestnut is poisonous because all parts of the horse chestnut are non-toxic.


  • originates from India and the interior of Asia, from where it spread throughout Europe, and for a long time has been loved the planting of chestnut trees in parks and alleys. Horse chestnut grows rapidly, there are no requirements, thrives in every soil, and reaches an age of over 200 years.

“Chestnuts are delicacies for princes and a lusty and masculine food for rusticks, and able to make women well-complexioned.”

– John Evelyn

Medicinal parts of plants:

  • flowers are collected in May, bark (Cortex Hippocastani) with young, up to a 5-year-old branch in March and April, and the ripe fruit falling from the wood in September and October.

Medicinal and effective ingredients:

  • beneficial effects as well as the therapeutic agent of horse chestnut are still too little known and appreciated. Fluorescent glycoside esculin, which is mostly found in the bark, can absorb the ultraviolet rays of the sun. These invisible rays do through skin irritation important beneficial effects, and so esculin is used for the preparation of ointments against sunburn. Esculin arranged preparation is taken with success in cases of malaria as well as occasional neuralgia. This therapeutic agent is a full application in the treatment of chronic tuberculosis skin diseases (lupus). Tincture from horse chestnut is also suitable as a quick fix with hemorrhoids. The liquid extract, which is prepared in pharmacies, also with success is used in the treatment of hemorrhoid difficulties and is still very useful in the treatment of eczema, chilblains, and varicose veins.

Besides the mentioned glycoside esculin there are more therapeutic agents in the bark, fruit, and flowers, as well as saponins, tannins, resins, fatty oils and bitter substances. The fruit moreover contains up to 35% starch. Compounds of fat, saponins and starch make horse chestnut suitable for the treatment of intestinal diseases, diarrhea, and respiratory catarrh. When you have intestinal inflammation and diarrhea it is recommended a tea mixture of equal parts of chestnut bark and oak bark, take 1 tablespoon (tea) of the mixture to prepare one cup of tea. In catarrh of all kinds take 2 times a day on top of the knife powder prepared from peeled fruit of the horse chestnut.

“If you dry the chestnut, both the barks being taken away, beat them into powder and make the powder up into an electuary with honey, it is a first-rate remedy for cough and spitting of blood.”

– Nicholas Culpeper

The use in folk medicine:

  • a decoction of the chestnut bark is widely used in folk medicine for washing gangrenous wounds, bleeding, especially to uterine bleeding, bleeding hemorrhoids as well as chronic diarrhea, and mucous cough, and it is used for internal and external application of treatment. Tincture of flowers, is prepared in that way that you soak a hand of fallen flower in 0.3 liters of strong brandy, and the composition is a medicament for massaging against rheumatism and gout, and 10 to 15 drops of this tincture is taken as needed to help stomach cramps and near fainting. Baked fruit of the horse chestnut, finely grated and mixed with barley flour and vinegar, is used for wraps that are put warm on chests. The fruit of the horse chestnut is cut finely and cooked in water until a dense concoction is made. This concoction is added to a warm water bath and stirred until the bath gets frothy. This bath is therapeutic for people with rheumatism.




drops on grass

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