Objective: To evaluate the clinical efficacy of orally administered horsechestnut seed extract in the treatment of venous leg ulcers.
Method: In a prospective triple-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial, 54 patients with venous leg ulcers from a large South Australian community nursing service were randomly allocated to receive horsechestnut seed extract (n=27) or placebo (n=27) for 12 weeks. Ulcers were assessed at weeks 0, 4, 8 and 12 utilising a wound assessment tool and the Alfred/Medseed Wound Imaging System.
Results: The difference between groups in the number of healed leg ulcers and change in wound surface area, depth, volume, pain and exudate was not statistically significant. However, horsechestnut seed extract did have a significant effect on the percentage of wound slough over time (RM-ANOVA F=2.76, p=0.045) and on the number of dressing changes at week 12 (t=-2.71, p=0.009).
Conclusion: Even though horsechestnut seed extract is likely to attenuate the pathogenesis of venous insufficiency and, in turn, facilitate venous ulcer healing, the current study did not statistically support such a claim. However, taking into account the small sample and insufficient power of the trial, and the significant improvement in wound slough and visit frequency, it appears that it may be useful in the management of venous leg ulcers.