Horse chestnut has been used for centuries for the treatment of venous insufficiency and varicose veins. A concentrated extract is derived from the seed of Aesculus hippocastanum or the common horse chestnut. Until relatively recently, horse chestnut was not widely used by the majority of North American herbalists. However, in Europe, most specifically, Germany, it is the second most widely sold herb (behind ginkgo biloba). This is mostly due to physician prescriptions of the botanical for the treatment of varicosities and other conditions associated with venous insufficiency. Approximately 10%-15% of men and 20%-25% of women suffer from chronic venous insufficiency.
It is one of the most common conditions affecting humans. Treatment usually consists of hospitalization, surgical intervention, management with medications, and follow-up treatment with compression stockings. Because compliance with conventional treatments is poor, the identification of effective, orally-administered medications is desirable.