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Horsechestnut

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Aesculus hippocastanum belongs to the family Hippocastanaceae. It is native to western Asia. It grows well in North India at foothills of Himalayas. It is widely cultivated throughout the temperate world. It grows to 36 m tall, with a domed crown of stout branches. The leaves are opposite and palmately compound, with 5–7 leaflets; each leaflet is 13–30 cm long. The flowers are usually white with a small red spot; they are produced in spring in erect panicles 10–30 cm tall with about 20–50 flowers on each panicle. Usually only 1–5 fruit develop on each panicle; the shell is a green, softly spiky capsule containing one nut-like seeds called conkers or horse-chestnuts.
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Listing Details

Botanical Names
Aesculus hippocastanum
Indian Names
Aesculus hippocastanum Horsechestnut
Chemical Constituents
Major constituents include Saponins -- Escins, Bioflavanoid – Quercitin, Kaempherol & their conjugates, Coumarins- Esculin, fraxin, Anthocyanins- Proanthocyanidin A2.
Pesticide Limits
A limit for pesticide is one of the major issues in standardization of medicinal plants and products in view of the worldwide widespread use of pesticides in cultivated plants. The presence of pesticides in extracts increase the health risk by many folds. The pesticides can be extremely irritant on skin as well as in the internal organs, it is essential to monitor its concentration as a part of GMP. Various analytical methods for the quantitative determination of pesticides by gas chromatography coupled with mass-spectrophotometer are in use. Konark Research Foundation (KRF), a NABL certified lab is well equipped with the latest technology and instruments and monitors the pesticide limit as part of its GMP.
Chromatographic Profile
From the pharmacopoeial perspective, a better quality control of raw material can be achieved by specifying a quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content by specifying a quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content of the marker substances or the ‘active’ ingredient. A chromatographic finger profile represents qualitative/ quantitative determination of various components present in a complex plant extract irrespective whether or not their exact identity is known. Thin layer chromatographic technique is the simplest and least expensive method that provides plenty of information on the composition of raw herbs and its preparation. For quantitative analysis of active ingredients or marker substances with simultaneous separation and detection High Pressure liquid chromatography is the best technique. We use the latest model of HPLC for all its analysis.
Limits of Impurities
A test requirement for foreign organic matter would ensure the extent of contamination of extraneous matters such as filth and other parts of botanicals not covered by the definition of the herbal drug. Since sand and soil are predictable contaminants of botanicals, test requirements for ‘total ash’, water soluble ash’, ‘acid soluble ash’, residue on ignition and sulphated ash would be expected to limit such contaminants.Test requirement for heavy metals in botanical raw material are probably more relevant for parts of plants growing under ground than for the aerial parts of the plant. The presence of high levels of minerals interacts with the final product there by affecting its keeping quality.
Microbial Limits
If the raw herb is to be used directly without boiling in water prior to consumption, restrictive limits on microbial contaminants are required for pathogens such as Salmonella sp. Enterobacter and E.coli which are causative agent for various gastro-intestinal diseases. A lower level of yeasts and molds and a limit on total aerobes are considered appropriate in plant material for topical use. The presence of aflatoxins detected by chemical means is generally independent of the number of viable molds that are detected using microbiological methods. Aflatoxins in microgram quantity are capable of giving serious hyper sensitivity reactions which can be extremely harmful to human health.
Pharmacology
Aesculus hippocastanum bark possesses diuretic, febrifuge, narcotic, tonic, vasoconstrictive, astringent and anti-inflammatory activities. The bark is said to be poisonous in a large dose, but in a small dose, it has long been used for treating varicose veins, phlebitis, hemorrhoids, malaria, and dysentery and poor circulation. It is also used externally for healing lupus and skin ulcers. Aesculus hippocastanum leaves are used in treating fevers, whooping cough and as a tonic. Seeds are also said to be beneficial in the treatment of rheumatism, used as decongestant, expectorant and as well as a tonic. A number of therapeutics has used the seeds for treating neuralgia and hemorrhoids, and their oil's administered externally in rheumatics. Proanthocyaninidin A2 is another active constituent of horsechestnut possess a potential venotonic and vasoprotective action. It stimulates the process of healing and also exerts a venotonic activity normalizing conditions of impaired capillary permeability and fragility.
Health Benefits
Aesculus hippocastanum is commonly used for treating rheumatism, vascular problems, phlebitis, varicose veins, neuralgia, diarrhea, cellulite, backache, arthritis, sports injuries and as a rich source of aescin. Escin- a saponin, an active component of horsechest nut, has been widely used in many pharmaceuticals, used topical and oral products for the treatment of peripheral vascular diseases mostly related to alter capillary permeability and resistance. Escin proved to be active in experimental cerebral edemas induced by carbon monoxide or triethyl stannous sulphate. The anti -edemic effect of combination of escin and bufenine in kaolin-induced edema in rat paw has been reported. Escin has proved to be effective in the treatment of cerebral edemas following cranial fractures and cranial traumas with or without retrograde amnesia.
Application in Cosmetics
In addition to the well reported beneficial effects of horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) extracts on venous insufficiency and associated conditions, such preparations also have many potential positive pharmacological effects on the skin. Extracts from this species, and in particular, those based on horse chestnut seeds, contain saponins, known collectively as ’aescin’, which have a gentle soapy feel, and are potent anti-inflammatory compounds. An extract of horse chestnut has recently been shown to have one of the highest ’active-oxygen’ scavenging abilities of different plant extracts tested. Such extracts are more powerful anti-oxidants than vitamin E, and also exhibit potent cell-protective effects, which are linked to the well-known anti-ageing properties of anti-oxidants. The extract is also rich in a number of flavonoids, such as derivatives of quercetin and kaempferol. Flavonoids also have protective effects on blood vessels, and are well-known, powerful anti-oxidants. In cosmetics, esculin improved skin trophism and was effective in the treatment of fibrosclerotic panniculopathy and in cellulites.
Research References
1. Effects of escin mixture from the seeds of Aesculus hippocastanum on obesity in mice fed a high fat diet.(Avci G, Küçükkurt I, Küpeli Akkol E, Yeşilada E.Pharm Biol. 2010 Mar;48(3):247-52.PMID: 20645808). 2. Determination of escin content in androgenic embryos and hairy root culture of Aesculus hippocastanum.(Calić-Dragosavac D, Zdravković-Korać S, Savikin-Fodulović K, Radojević L, Vinterhalter B.Pharm Biol. 2010 May;48(5):563-7.PMID: 20645800). 3. Phylogeography of Japanese horse chestnut (Aesculus turbinata) in the Japanese Archipelago based on chloroplast DNA haplotypes.(Sugahara K, Kaneko Y, Ito S, Yamanaka K, Sakio H, Hoshizaki K, Suzuki W, Yamanaka N, Setoguchi H.J Plant Res. 2010 Jun 12. [Epub ahead of print]PMID: 20549293). 4. Beneficial effects of Aesculus hippocastanum L. seed extract on the body's own antioxidant defense system on subacute administration.(Küçükkurt I, Ince S, Keleş H, Akkol EK, Avci G, Yeşilada E, Bacak E.J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 May 4;129(1):18-22. Epub 2010 Feb 26.PMID: 20219666). 5. Horse chestnut extract contracts bovine vessels and affects human platelet aggregation through 5-HT(2A) receptors: an in vitro study.(Felixsson E, Persson IA, Eriksson AC, Persson K.Phytother Res. 2010 Feb 10. [Epub ahead of print]PMID: 20148408). 1. Indian Herbal Pharmacopoeia (Revised New Edition 2002). 2. Standardization of Botanicals, Volume 2- By Dr. V. Rajpal. 3. www.pubmed.gov