Horsetail

Scientific Name/Common Name: Equisetum arvense / Horsetail

Part(s) Used: Aerial portions

Constituents/Active Ingredients: More than 10% inorganic compounds, two-thirds of which are silicic acid (10% in the form of water soluble orthosilicic acid) and potassium salts. Horsetail also contains significant levels of selenium, manganese, and magnesium. Flavonoids are also abundant in horsetail, including: apigenin, luteolin, quercetin, and genkwanin. Other compounds include: alkaloids (nicotine and spermidine); polyenic acids and rare dicarboxylic acids (i.e. equisetolic acid); saponins including equisetonin; and phenol-carboxylic acids including caffeic acid.  

Overview: Horsetail, also known as scouring rush and bottle brush, was traditionally used in Europe and is approved by the Commission E as a diuretic to treat edema (water retention) and to treat urinary tract problems including gravel. Horsetail also served as a food for many First Nations Peoples and the roots were traditionally given to teething babies. American Indians also used the tea as a diuretic to treat kidney gravel, urinary incontinence, and to treat constipation. Horsetail extract is used medicinally to stimulate healing of broken bones, treat connective tissue injuries, and to promote healthy hair, skin, and nails. The essential element, silicon, is present in very large amounts in horsetail. Because silica is essential for growth and healing and is a major constituent of bones, cartilage, connective tissue, and skin, horsetail is recommended to prevent and treat disorders pertaining to these areas of the body.

Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: For the urinary system; to support health of connective tissue (hair, skin, nails, teeth, bones, cartilage).

Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:

Foster S, and Duke JA. 1990. Horsetail in Medicinal Plants. Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, NY, p. 304. Flynn, R. and Roest, M. 1995.

Traditional plant foods of Canadian indigenous peoples. Nutrition, botany and use. In Food and Nutrition in History and Anthropology Vol. 8. Gordon & Breach Science Publishers, Philadelphia, PA, p. 48.

Wichtl M (ed). 1994. Equiseti herba – Equisetum (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 188-191.

Disclaimer: This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.