Horse chestnut is one of the few things that we know can help treat broken capillaries and varicose veins. I've even gone so far as to make my own thread vein treatment with horse chestnut extract. Looking at Planetary Formulas Horse Chestnut Cream ($10.99), I think I'd be better served channeling my inner formulator on something else. With a whopping 20% horse chestnut extract, this has to be one of the bargain's of the decade.

For anyone who cares: horse chestnut trees (particularly the seeds) contain a saponin called escin. This is supposed to strengthen veins and capillaries by blocking an enzyme called hyaluronidase, which can breakdown of proteoglycans (part of the structure of capillary walls).

Planetary Formulas has several other helpful plant extracts. In particular, there is butcher's broom, which contains chemicals that attach to and strengthen blood vessels. There is an attention to detail about this product that I find impressive at any price. For example, the witch hazel extract comes from the bark, which has 31 times more hamamelitannin (antioxidant) and proanthocyandins than the leaves. I also like the inclusion of astringent rosemary and white oak.

Myrrh is an intriguing ingredient. Most of us know it as the stuff that the Three Kings carted around whilst following stars in search of baby Jesus. Although used in days gone by as an incense in churches, its main function is far less romantic. The bottom line is that myrrh is an antibacterial and is most useful as a mouthwash. Recently, however, researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey found that myrrh can kill cancer cells by inactivating a protein called Bcl-2.

There are a couple of parabens in Planetary Formulas Horse Chestnut Cream, but overall it looks to be a much better bet than Derma e Clear Vein Creme, which with its 3% horse chestnut did nothing for me.


Horse Chestnut Seed/Bark Extract (Standardized to 20% aescin), Butcher's Broom Leaf Extract, Witch Hazel Bark Extract, White Oak Bark Extract, Myrrh Gum Extract, Rosemary Leaf Oil, Purified Water, Aloe Vera Gel, Glyceryl Stearate (Emulsifier), Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides (Emollient), Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Beeswax, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Methyl Glucose (from Sugar Plant), Lecithin Phospholipid, Jojoba Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Natural Vitamin E), Xanthan Gum, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Sorbic Acid (Preservatives)