Standardized extracts of horse chestnut seed are safe, highly effctive treatments for several conditions, including chronic venous insufficiency, hemorrhoids, varicose veins and related problems. Although the raw seeds, bark, flowers, and leaves of horse chestnut are acutely toxic due to the presence of the poisonous compound esculin, prepared horse chestnut is safe and associated with few side effects.
Nevertheless, there are some horse chestnut contraindications– circumstances under which the use of horse chestnut could be unacceptably dangerous. Do not use horse chestnut if you fall into any of these groups, which are at risk of serious side effects from the prepared product.
No studies have evaluated horse chestnut’s effect on pregnancy or on the development of a fetus. In theory, horse chestnut could contribute to birth defects, stillbirth, miscarriage or preterm labor. Raw horse chestnut products are extremely toxic and should not be used during any stage of pregnancy. Consult your health care provider for help with managing chronic venous insufficiency and related conditions during pregnancy.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Horse chestnut seeds irritate the lining of the digestive tract, so it inflammatory bowel disease is regarded as a horse chestnut contraindication. It could lead to episodes of severe diarrhea, cramping and dehydration. Do not take horse chestnut if you have any form of inflammatory bowel disease.
People with Liver Disease
Liver diseases such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, fibrosis are horse chestnut contraindications. There is one report of liver disease associated with the use of horse chestnut supplements. Horse chestnut may worsen liver conditions, so it is prudent to avoid them.
People with Kidney Conditions
Horse chestnut supplements may stress the kidneys, making kidney conditions worse for some individuals. If you have a history of any form of kidney disease, do not use horse chestnut under any circumstances.
The National Institutes of Health has more information about horse chestnut contraindications, risks and side effects.