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Conkers

Conkers

Botanical Description & Habitat

Aesculus hippocastanum

Family
Sapindaceae and Hippocostanaceae

Common Names
Buckeye
California Buckeye
Horse chestnut
Ohio Buckeye
Spanish chestnut

Habitat
Western Asia, North America, and Europe

Description
Conkers is a deciduous tree growing from 40-50 feet in height; it has numerous branches and is covered with a rough brown bark. The palmately compound leaves are composed of 7 large, light green serrated leaflets. White and pink flowers grow in terminal racemes from May to June. The fruit is a 3-celled capsule with short external spines, containing 1-6 brown seeds.

Medicinal Parts
Nut (not including capsule shell)
Fresh, ripe Leaves and bark

Historical Properties & Uses

The high tannic content of horse chestnut bark makes it a primary astringent. It is useful in the treatment of hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and diarrhea. The leaf is used as an expectorant, antiphlogistic, and diuretic.

Horse Chestnut seed has approval status by the German Commission E for venous insufficiency as well as cramps and swelling of the legs.

Horse Chestnut leaf has not achieved approval status by the German Commission E. Either there was insufficient evidence in favor, or a contraindication.

References:

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Method of Action

There is presently insufficient data on this subject.

Drug Interactions & Precautions

Known Interactions
Since conkers' diuretic action increases renal excretion, interactions may occur between the many central nervous system drugs and the psychoactive principles in conkers.

Safety Factors & Toxicity

Children have been known to eat the poisonous (aesculin), outer green casing. Toxic symptoms include reddening of the skin, drowsiness, stomach ache, and enlarged pupils.

Pollen may also evoke allergies. (Popp, 1992)

Conkers is reputed to have some hemolytic property when administered as an extract injection in large doses. It is unlikely humans would ever take the herb by that route.

It is classified by the FDA as unsafe.

This herb (excluding the leaf) has approval status by the German Commission E.

It is a major phytopharmaceutical on the German market, with sales exceeding $50 million. It is categorized as a vein preparation.

References:

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Preparation & Administration

Tincture
1:10 in 45% alcohol of seed, O.6 ml three times a day

Horse chestnut seed has approval status by the German Commission E.

Recommended daily dosages in Germany are as follows:

100 mg escin or 250 - 321.5 mg extract b.i.d.

References:

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Note: This Herbal Preparation information is a summary of data from books and articles by various authors. It is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals.

Abstracts

References

Am Hospital Formulary Service. Am Soc of Hosp Pharm. Wash, D.C.

Bisler, H et al., Effects of horse chestnut seed extract on transcapillary filtration in chronic venous insufficiency. Dtsch Med. Wochenschr. 1986, 111(35):1,321.

Blacow, N.W. Martindale: The Extra Pharmacopoeia. The Pharmaceutical Press: London, England, 1973

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Bressler, R., M.D. Bogdonoff & G.J. Subak-Sharpe. 1981. The Physicians Drug Manual. Doubleday & Co, Inc. Garden City, NY. 1213 pp.

Committee on Pharmocopaeia of the Am Institute of Homeopathy, The Homeopathic Pharmacopaeia of the United States. 8th ed., Vol 1. Otis Clapp and Son, Agents, Boston, l981.

Facts and Comparisons. The Lawrence Review of Natural Products. Oct, 1998.

Goodman, L.S. & A. Gilman. 1975. Pharm Basis of Thera. Macmillan, NY.

Gruenwald, J: Most frequently prescribed herbal monopreparations in Germany, listed according to active ingredient and sales. HerbalGram, 1997, 39:68.

Guillaume, M & Padioleau, F: Veinotonic effect, vascular protection, antiinflammatory and free radical scavenging properties of horse chestnut extract. Arzneimittleforschung, 1994, 44:25.

Hansten, P.D. 1979. Drug Interactions, 4th ed. Lea & Febiger, Phila.

Kastrup, E.K., ed. 1981. Drug Facts and Comparisons, 1982 edition. Facts and Comparisions Division, J.P. Lippincott Co, Phila(St. Louis).

Lewis, Walter H. and Elvin-Lewis, Memory P.F. Medical Botany: Plants Affecting Man's Health, John Wiley and Sons. New York, l977.

List, P. & L. Hoerhammer. 1969-1976. Hagers Hanbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, vols. 2-5. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Martin, E. Drug Interactions Index, 1978/79. J.B. Lippincott Co., Phila.

Mowrey, Daniel B., Ph.D. Exper. Psych., Brigham Young University. Director of Nebo Institute of Herbal Sciences. Director of Behavior Change Agent Training Institute. Director of Research, Nova Corp.

Popp, W et al., Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) pollen: a frequent cause of allergic sensitization in urban children. Allergy, 1992, 47:380.

Spoerke, David G. 1979. Herbal Medications. Woodbridge Press Publishing Co. Santa Barbara, Ca.

 


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