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Horse Chestnuts (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Whenever I collect Horse Chestnuts, I have a feeling of nostalgia, knowing that this is the last herbal harvest for the year.

The good stuff is inside the thick outer shell, and so each and every chestnut has to be crushed by hammer in order to extract the active constituents.

Horse chestnuts are my favourite choice of herb to tighten varicose veins and ease that heavy-leg feeling. They tone the walls of the veins, helping to alleviate the prolapse of the venous tissues…and as such, I have used them for years to treat the swollen ankles and bulging veins of my patients.

Because haemorrhoids (piles) are a type of varicose vein, this herb is great for those with sore, itchy and bleeding piles – treating the problem from the inside.

Because the horse chestnuts strengthen blood vessel walls, they are helpful at restraining histamine release, and are thus also really helpful for hay fever symptoms.

I wouldn’t say it is safe to use these internally unless you are a Medical Herbalist, but it would be safe and effective if you harvested your own horse chestnuts, smash them (one by one!!), dry them thoroughly, and mix them in equal quantities with oak leaves. A handful of this mixture, extracted in a teapot of boiling water and added to your bath will help very nicely (and safely) with varicose veins and piles