Aesculus hippocastanum L. (Hippocastanaceae)
Aesculus castanea Gilib., A. procera Salisb., Castanea equina, Hippocastanum
A tree, up to 30 m high and 2m in circumference, with large sticky buds and
dense, broad, usually orbicular, or occasionally pyramidal, crown. Leaves up
to 20cm long and 10 cm wide, with 15–20 cm long petioles; composed of
5–7 large sessile leaflets, median leaflet largest, outer leaflets much
smaller. Blades obovate or oblong, tapering at the base, abruptly mucronate,
irregularly serrate at the margin; dorsal side glabrous; ventral side with soft
hairs. Flowers have 5 petals with an orbicular limb, imbricate at the margins,
white, with yellow spot at base which later turns pink; arranged in erect dense
panicles up to 20–30cm long; rachis and pedicel with reddish-brown hairs;
calyx cylindrical to campanulate and pubescent; stamens hairy at the base; ovary
covered with soft hairs and prickles. Capsules spiny, usually with 1 large seed
Plant material used
dried ripe seeds
Contains not less than 3.0% triterpene saponins, calculated as aescin (escin),
determined by spectrophotometry at 540nm. High-performance liquid chromatography
and thin-layer chromatography–densitometry procedures for the quantitative
analysis of triterpene saponins have also been developed.
Major chemical constituents
The major constituents are triterpene saponins (up to 10%), collectively referred
to as aescin (also known as escin), and are considered the active therapeutic
principles. Aescin exists in three forms, α-aescin, β-aescin and cryptoaescin,
which are differentiated by their physical properties. β-aescin is a mixture
of more than 30 different glycosides derived from the triterpene aglycones protoaescigenin
(also known as protoescigenin) and barringtogenol C. Other constituents include
flavonoids (e.g. quercetin, kaempferol and their glycosyl derivatives)
Uses supported by clinical data
Internally, for treatment of symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency, including
pain, feeling of heaviness in the legs, nocturnal calf-muscle spasms, itching
and oedema. Externally, for the symptomatic treatment of chronic venous insufficiency,
sprains and bruises.
Uses described in pharmacopoeias and well
Treatment of coronary heart disease
Uses described in traditional medicine
Treatment of bacillary dysentery and fevers. Also as a haemostat for excessive
menstrual or other gynaecological bleeding, and as a tonic
Proven pharmacological activity
Chronic venous insufficiency and related conditions, wound
Semen Hippocastani is contraindicated in cases of known allergy to plants of
the Hippocastanaceae family.
No information available.
Two suspected cases of toxic nephropathy probably due to very high doses of
aescin were reported. Therefore, Semen Hippocastani should not be administered
with other drugs known to be nephrotoxic, such as gentamicin.
Carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, impairment of fertility
A 30% ethanol extract of Semen Hippocastani was not mutagenic in the Salmonella/microsome
assay using S. typhimurium strains TA98 and TA100 (200ml/ml). Sodium aescinate
had no effect on the fertility of male rats.
Pregnancy: teratogenic effects
A 40% ethanol extract of Semen Hippocastani was not teratogenic or embryotoxic
in rats or rabbits following intragastric administration of 1.6ml/kg body weight.
Intragastric administration of a 40% ethanol extract of the seeds to rats (100–300
mg/kg body weight) or rabbits (100mg/kg body weight) was not teratogenic. However,
when pregnant rabbits were given 300mg/kg body weight, a reduction in birth
weight was observed.
Pregnancy: non-teratogenic effects
Semen Hippocastani has been used in clinical trials involving pregnant women
with no ill effects. However, the drug should not be administered during pregnancy
without medical supervision.
There is no therapeutic rationale for the use of Semen Hippocastani in children.
Other precautions No information available on general precautions or precautions
concerning drug and laboratory test interactions; or nursing mothers. Therefore,
Semen Hippocastani should not be administered during lactation without medical
Case reports have indicated gastrointestinal side-effects such as nausea and
stomach discomfort (47, 55). Allergic reactions have also been reported.
Crude drug and extracts. Store away from light and humidity.
(Unless otherwise indicated) Daily dosage: 250.0–312.5 mg twice daily
of a standardized powdered extract of the crude drug (equivalent to 100 mg aescin)
containing 16–20% triterpene glycosides, calculated as aescin; topical
gels containing 2% aescin