Horsetail Herb Health Benefits
The horsetail herb is also known as equisetum arvense, horsetail grass, shave grass, field horsetail and common horsetail. According to recorded history, the present non-flowering horsetail plant is a descendent of a huge plant that existed a few hundred million years ago. The ancient Romans used the stems of the plants to scrub and polish metal and to wash their dishes.
Native Americans and early settlers use of the young shoots to make tea for treating conditions such as bladder and kidney problems, gout and gonorrhea. The Chinese made use of horsetail to treat dysentery, malaria and sore throat. Shavegrass was also used in folk medicine to treat ulcers, tuberculosis and to stop bleeding. The young shoots were cooked or eaten raw.
Scientific studies found that the hollow and jointed stems and the leaves of horsetail contain a high amount of silicon in the form of silica and also silicic acid. The silica contributes to its effectiveness as a polishing agent.
Silica is also present in other herbs such as alfalfa and comfrey and in fruits and vegetables such as avocados, cucumbers and lettuce. In the human body, silica is present in tissues such as the nails. Humans require silica for collagen formation and development and normal growth.
Besides silica and silicic acid, horsetail plant contains bioflavonoids, calcium, manganese, potassium, sulfur, saponin, beta-sitosterol, many phytochemicals and a minute amount of nicotine. Researches indicate that horsetail is an astringent and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.
Medicinal Uses of Horsetail Herb
- Horsetail herb is a natural diuretic and is able to get rid of excess fluid in the body by increasing urine flow. Based on a study on humans, it shows that taking horsetail extract may help treat uric acid kidney stones. It is commonly used in the treatment of bladder and kidney problems.
- One of the benefits of taking horsetail supplement is it helps strengthen hair, nails and skin. This is due to the presence of silicon. Silica aids in boosting skin elasticity and helps delay ageing. There are quite a number of nail strengthening, hair volumizing shampoo and anti-aging products that include horsetail extract in their ingredients.
- Thanks to silica, horsetail extract may also prevent or reduce bone loss which would reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Its antioxidant effects will help fight free radicals from damaging cells, stimulate the immune system to fight off infections and reduce the risk of major health problems. The silica and antioxidants combined may also prevent plaque formation and reduce the risk of hardening of the arteries and heart diseases.
- Because of its astringent and anti-inflammatory activities, you can use horsetail as an herbal compress or poultice. To treat cuts and wounds, dilute the horsetail powder or herb in water, soak a cloth in it, wring it and place it on the affected area. To make a poultice, add water to the horsetail powder to make a paste, apply on the affected area and secure and fasten it by covering with a plastic and band aid or safety pin. A poultice is effective in treating joint pains, broken bones, inflammation and bruises.
- Drinking horsetail tea may assist in clearing your lungs and treat respiratory problems caused by asthma, bronchitis and tuberculosis. It may also act as an expectorant and allow you to cough out the phlegm. To make your own horsetail tea, boil 2 grams of horsetail herb for 5 minutes and let it steep for 15 minutes.
- Use horsetail tea externally as a soak or wash to treat fungal infections such as nail fungus. Gargle the tea to treat gum infection and add horsetail liquid extract in your sitz bath as a natural remedy for hemorrhoid relief.
Horsetail is sold as health supplements in capsules and liquid extract. You can also buy horsetail tea in bags and horsetail is also available as cut and sifted as well as horsetail powder. The German E Commission recommends 6g daily for internal consumption.
If you are pregnant or nursing, talk to your doctor before taking horsetail as a supplement. If you consume alcohol regularly, you should also avoid taking horsetail because both combined will result in thiamine deficiency.