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Answer:

Horse chestnut is typically used to reduce inflammation and swelling, particularly associated with varicose veins and hemorrhoids, and generally, side effects tend to be mild (Pittler, Arch Dermatol 1998; Siebert, Int Angiol 2002).

However, stomach irritation, nausea and gastrointestinal tract symptoms can be caused by a compound naturally found in horse chestnut -- even in extracts (Pittler, Arch Dermatol 1998). By taking the extract in a controlled release formulation, the incidence of irritation may be reduced. So if the product you used was not controlled release, the side effects you experienced may not be unusual.

Other side effects associated with the use of horse chestnut extract include itchiness, headache, and dizziness (Pittler, Arch Dermatol 1998). Also, be aware that horse chestnut may have antiplatelet effects, so people who take blood-thinning medications, such as aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), warfarin (Coumadin) and others should consult their physician before using (Heck, Am J Health Syst Pharm 2000).

Be aware that consuming "whole" horse chestnut (as opposed to extracts from which a toxin, esculin, has been removed) is dangerous.

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