Horsetail Herb

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The Equidistant family of plants has been on the planet for nearly 300 million years (that’s not a typo). Horsetail is usually found in moist habitat and prefers non-chalky soil. It has separate sterile non-reproductive and fertile spore-bearing stems, growing from a perennial underground stem system. It spreads quickly by these spores and it’s underground root stock, and can quickly invade a garden similar to bamboo. One of it’s common names; Bottle brush refers to the “scratchy” nature of the stems as well as the shape of the plant. The plant is high in silica, which gives it this gritty texture. The young shoots of this plant have traditionally been eaten in traditional Japanese and Native American cultures.

What is Horsetail Used for?

Traditionally this plant has been used to support the urinary tract, kidneys and connective tissues. It contains a soluble source of silica, a mineral known to be essential in the development of healthy hair, skin and nails. It is also a good source of the flavonoids intercity 3 glucoside and luteolin.

People use horsetail for “fluid retention” (edema), urinary tract infections, loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence), wounds, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses. Using horsetail can also be unsafe.

The Health Benefits of Horsetail

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is an herb in the Equidistant family of plants, which have been used since ancient Greek and Roman times. It was traditionally used as a medicinal herb to treat osteoporosis, tuberculosis, and kidney problems; it was also used as a diuretic (for relief of fluid retention) and to stop bleeding and heal wounds. However, there are very few reliable research studies available to solidify the claims that horsetail is safe or effective for use as a medicinal herb.

The perennial plant, sometimes considered a weed, spreads quickly and can rapidly invade a garden, or other moist habits. The fern-like horsetail plant, with hollow, pointed stems and scaly leaves, grows to approximately 12 inches in height. Only the green fern-like part of the plant is used for medicinal purposes; the root is not used.

Other names for horsetail include asprêle, bottle brush, coda cavallina, cola de caballo, common horsetail, Equisetum, field horsetail, horse herb, horsetail grass, horsetail rush, horse willow, queue-de-Renard, scouring rush, shave grass, and spring horsetail.

Health Benefits

Although there is not enough clinical research data to back the claims of the touted health benefits of horsetail, the plant has been used to treat many conditions, including:

Huntington College of Health Sciences reports that horsetail is an excellent source of the amino acid cysteine, along with minerals such as selenium (known to enhance hair growth).2

In an animal study published by the Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, the study authors explain that horsetail may have a significant anti diabetic effect3 stating that more studies are needed to identify exactly how Equisetum arvense (horsetail) works to lower blood sugar.

Horsetail: the 5 benefits of this plant

The horsetail (Equisetum arvense L.) traditionally considered a medicinal plant with many properties for our health. This plant is very appreciated for being one of the best natural diuretics that exist.  Also highly valued for the positive benefits for the kidneys, slimming, depurative and detoxifying.

Although it is a plant that grows in abundance in the clay soils of the humid regions of the northern hemisphere, at the moment it can be found in the whole planet, mainly, on the banks of the rivers and streams and in the surroundings of grasslands.

But, in addition to its cleansing properties, horsetail is also known for its aesthetic and regenerative properties, as it helps to renew cell tissues, giving a better look to our skin and making it look more beautiful. The sterile stems of the plant are harvested during the summer season and allowed to dry in the shade, eliminating discolored parts. Then they are crushed and put into bags with which they are made all kinds of preparations for beauty and health. From fresh juices to essences, infusions, syrups, capsules, lotions, waters for enemas, creams, extracts, decorations, and nationalizations.

5 benefits of horsetail

1. It is diuretic

The ponytail is one of the best natural supplements that exist to help promote fluid removal, making it ideal for those who suffer from inflammation, arthritis or gout and also for those suffering from kidney, bladder and stone problems In the kidneys.

2. Soft depurative

Combined with other medicinal plants such as nettle, milk thistle or dandelion, it allows purifying our body of toxic agents. We recommend taking this plant once a day for a month, twice a year. Preferably during spring and autumn.

3. Improves the condition of the skin and nails

Its high content of silicon helps to maintain and recover the connective tissues of the skin, rejuvenating and invigorating it.

In this regard, it also helps to form the collagen that our nails need.

4. Helps to lose weight -eliminate fluids-

Because of its cleansing effect, horsetail also helps prevent and eliminate cellulite. It fights toxins in our body, making it a great complement for those who are on a diet. However, it must be taken into account that what is eliminated is liquid, not fat.

5. Strengthens our bones and tendons

The high mineral content of the ponytail makes this plant have a remineralizing effect, helping to nourish and strengthen our bones. Ideal to help prevent cavities, osteoporosis and improve wound healing.

It is, therefore, a good complement for those people who do sport in a habitual way, since it affects positively on the flexibility of the tendons and the vessels walls.

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is an herbal remedy that dates back to ancient Roman and Greek times. It was used traditionally to stop bleeding, heal ulcers and wounds, and treat tuberculosis and kidney problems. The name Equisetum is derived from the Latin roots equips, meaning “horse,” and seta, meaning “bristle.”

Horsetail contains silicon, which helps strengthen bone. For that reason, some practitioners recommend horsetail as a treatment for osteoporosis. It is also used as a diuretic, and as an ingredient in some cosmetics. However, few studies have investigated horsetail’s effect in humans.

Medicinal Uses and Indications

Horsetail has traditionally been used as a diuretic (helps rid the body of excess fluid by increasing urine output). One study examined the use of horsetail by people who had a history of uric acid kidney stones. The people who took horsetail experienced an increase in dieresis (urine output). Other studies suggest horsetail has antioxidant properties and may inhibit cancer cell growth.

Horsetail has been suggested as a treatment for osteoporosis (thinning bone), because it contains silicon, a mineral needed for bone health. In one study, 122 Italian women took horsetail dry extract or Ostensible calcium 270 mg twice daily (a horsetail/calcium combination used in Italy for osteoporosis and fractures). Both groups who took horsetail experienced improved bone density, however the study was poorly designed. More research is needed to determine whether horsetail has any effect on bone density.

Benefits and Uses of Horsetail (Shave grass)

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I’ve been using herbs and herbal preparations for years now to treat mild issues at home. Horsetail (also called shave grass) is an herb that I always keep in the herb cabinet (which is what I have instead of a medicine cabinet!). It has been my go-to for hair, skin, and nail health but I am still learning that there are even more benefits and uses of horsetail herb.

What Is Horsetail?

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is a medicinal plant used for remedies that dates back to ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. But it has been around much longer, as early as before the dinosaurs. Prehistoric horsetail was much taller, the size of a tree, but today’s horsetail reaches just about 4 feet tall. Horsetail is thought to be the most abundant source of silica in the plant kingdom. Because of this, it has been used in the past to polish metal.

The above-ground part of the plant is what is used for herbal medicine. It has been used traditionally for many ailments and to support natural health:

While herbalists have used horsetail for traditional remedies for many years, there isn’t a lot of scientific data to support its use. However, the small amount of research that is available is promising and makes a case for further research.

Horsetail Benefits

Horsetail has many uses in traditional herbal medicine. Science is also beginning to back up these claims. Here are some of the most common benefits of horsetail:

High in Nutrients and Antioxidants

One of the most interesting benefits of horsetail is how nutrient dense it is. Horsetail contains the following nutrients:

Horsetail also contains Kynurenic acid, which reduces inflammation and pain, as well as silica, which supports collagen production. It also contains chlorophyll, known to fight cancer by preventing the cytotoxic and hyperproliferative effects of iron metabolism.

Additionally, research suggests that horsetail has antioxidant properties and may even inhibit cancer cell growth because of this.

Promotes Bone Health

The high level of silica in horsetail is one of its main health benefits. Silica is important for bone and teeth health among other things. In a 1999 study, post-menopausal women with osteoporosis regained significant bone density after 1 year of supplementation of horsetail.

Fights Illness and Infection

Traditional herbalists use horsetail on wounds, especially boils and carbuncles. It turns out this use is scientifically backed. Horsetail has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that help with disease and infection. One 2006 study tested horsetail essential oil on a number of bacteria and fungi like Staph, Salmonella, and Candida. It was found to have a broad spectrum effect on all strains tested.

Has Diuretic Properties

Horsetail has been used traditionally as a diuretic and to treat bladder issues for centuries. A 2014 study found that horsetail works as well as a conventional diuretic medicine (hydroelectrically) without side effects such as significant changes to liver or kidney function or electrolyte balance.

Additionally, many diuretic drugs cause electrolyte issues but this study found that horsetail does not cause the same issues. This may be because horsetail is also a good source of electrolytes.

Supports Hair, Skin, and Nail Health

Horsetail has also been used traditionally for hair, skin, and nail health. It’s thought that the high silica content of horsetail is the reason why it works. Silica helps boost collagen production which is important for healthy hair, skin, and nail.

Science backs this up too. A 2016 study found that hair with high amounts of silica was less likely to fall out and was also more lustrous than hair with lower levels of silica.

Horsetail can even help regrow hair after hair loss. According to this 2012 study, significant hair growth occurred after 90 and 180 days of supplementing with horsetail herb.

One study published in the Journal of Plastic Dermatology found that using horsetail topically on nails reduced splitting and fragility of nails as well as reduced longitudinal grooves.

Additionally, a 2015 study found horsetail ointment helped heal epistolary wounds and reduced pain associated with it.

Horsetail Uses

I often use this herb, especially in external preparations due to its skin/hair supportive high silica content:

  • Increase bone density – Take a supplement of horsetail with calcium daily.
  • As an herbal hair rinse – I brew a strong herbal tea (1/2 cup horsetail to 1 cup water), steep for an hour, strain and use as a hair rinse in the shower.
  • For boils and blisters – I grind the dried herb with plantain and add enough water to create a paste and then pack on to boils or blisters and cover with gauze to speed healing.
  • For nails – Use horsetail oil on nails to improve strength and reduce breakage and splitting.
  • As diuretic – Drink horsetail tea to remove excess water.
  • Sore throat – For sore throat, I make a gargle with a strong horsetail infusion (steeping horsetail in boiling water and then cooling) with sea salt and lemon juice and then gargle with this mixture a few times a day while symptoms persist.
  • Bed wetting/bladder problems – A capsule of horsetail extract two or three times daily may be helpful for alleviating some of the symptoms of bladder and urinary tract infections (although not necessarily solving the problem, see this post on UTIs), incontinence, and even bed wetting because it can relieve the urge to urinate. Or try a bath in horsetail tea (steep dried horsetail in a quart of boiling water for 10-15 minutes and then strain and add to bath).

After overindulging in stress, unhealthy stress-coping mechanisms (read: wine), and blood-pressure raising political discussions with climate change-denying relatives, I’m looking forward to January, my favorite month of the year and also prime time for optimizing personal wellness.

To prep, I’ve begun to entertain the side of myself that’s always wanted to be a potion-concocting witch. (So much so that in elementary school, I painstakingly crafted an entire book of spells, only to later destroy it out of Catholic guilt.) My modern-day version of this early art project is to stock my pantry full of plant medicine I can utilize to heal all that ails me in the aftermath of the year that was way, way too much.

One such nature-based remedy I’m looking forward to incorporating into my arsenal is horsetail herb. While its origins in witchcraft are unknown (at least to me), herbalist Rachelle Robinett says it’s one of the oldest-used medicinal plants on the planet. In Ayurveda, it’s used to treat inflammation, and it was also used by Native Americans as a kidney aid, dysuria (read: painful pee) treatment, and diuretic. The latter benefits are born of the plant’s flavonoid (read: antioxidant) and saponin (read: anti-cancer) constituents, Lang explains.

These aren’t only healing properties of horsetail herb. “It’s rich in naturally occurring calcium, magnesium, potassium, and bio available silica,” Robinet tells me, noting that it’s actually higher in silica than any other herb. “Silica is an essential trace mineral that restores weak connective tissues in blood vessels, cartilage, tendons, and in collagen–the body glue that helps hold our skin and muscle tissues together,” she goes on to explain. As such, it plays an important role in the development, strengthening, and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth and speeds the healing of bone fractures. “It’s said to help rheumatism and arthritis by improving the elasticity of the joints, and is recommended to athletes for sprains, pulled hamstrings, and torn ligaments,” she adds. It also benefits hair and nail growth, and may be helpful in healing wounds.

Horsetail herb can be consumed in a tincture or as a dried herb. It’s also found in plant-based collagen powder blends, capsules, and teas. If you’re feeling particularly witchy you can also, advises Lang, mix horsetail with stinging nettles to even better facilitate strong bone, fingernail, and hair growth as well as joint repair.

While potential side effects are rare, Robinet says it’s worth noting that horsetail herb can potentially lower vitamin B1 levels, especially if you drink alcohol frequently. Because of its diuretic properties, it may also lower potassium levels and inhibit lithium flushing, thereby increasing the body’s lithium content. Beyond these concerns, Robinett tells me it’s not recommended for pregnant or nursing women, as toxicity similar to nicotine poisoning has been noted in children who’ve ingested large amounts.

Overall, she urges a typical degree of caution. “As with any herb or supplement, folks should start slow at first to ensure no drastic negative reactions,” she says. I suppose this means I should do a little more research (on myself) before I start combining it into elixirs aimed at erasing New Year’s Eve debauchery and, at least this cocktail-drenched time of year, make sure I add in a B vitamin supplement if I’m going to start taking it, too.

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