Horsetail

Equisetum arvense, Equisetaceae. This plant is also known as mare's tail, shave grass and pewterwort.

The dried aerial parts of the plant are used.

The stems are collected in early summer. Cut the plant just above the ground, hang in bundles and dry in an airy place.

Functions of horsetail

Horsetail:

  • has an affinity for the urinary system where it acts as a mild diuretic, soothing and healing irritation and infection of the urinary tract. Its toning and astringent properties make it useful for frequency (of urination). It will assist in the control of bed wetting.
  • is particularly useful in the treatment of inflammation or benign enlargement of the prostate gland. It will also assist in the rapid removal of kidney stones.
  • also acts on the reproductive system, reducing hemorrhage and heavy bleeding. This is thanks to it high silica content. The silica also helps in the absorption of calcium and has been shown to play a role in the prevention of atherosclerosis.
  • can be used externally as a lotion in the treatment of skin conditions such as eczema, cuts and wounds, sores and ulcers. It will stop the bleeding from wounds (by applying bruised fresh horsetail).
  • can be used as a mouth wash or gargle for mouth ulcers, bleeding gums and sore throats.
  • can be used as a hair rinse to assist in the strengthening of brittle hair.

Notes on horsetail

  • Horsetail is usually regarded as having low toxicity, although some species may contain a substance called thiaminase, which destroys vitamin B1 or thiamine.
  • Do not ingest infusion made from this herb for prolonged periods of time without consulting your health professional.
  • Do not use internally in small children due to its silica content.
  • Do not use if you have edema (accumulation of fluid under the skin) due to cardiac ailments.
  • Do not drink horsetail infusions if you are taking cardiac stimulants (glycosides) such as digitalis, as horsetail may increase their effects.
  • Do not use with diuretics because excessive potassium loss from the body may result.
  • Since horsetail contains variable amounts of nicotine, do not combine with products that contain caffeine or theobromine, as over stimulation of the nervous system may occur.

Dosage

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 2 teaspoonsful of the dried herb. and leave to infuse for 15-20 minutes. This should be drunk three times per day.

Tincture: take 1-4 ml of the tincture three times per day.

References

Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Hoffmann, F. and Manning M. 2002, Herbal Medicine and Botanical Medical Fads. The Haworth Press.

McIntyre, A. 1995, The Complete Women's Herbal. Henry Holt Reference Books.

Mills, S. Y. 1989, The A-Z of Modern Herbalism: A Comprehensive Guide to Practical Herbal Therapy. Thorson.

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