Horsetail is a perennial plant (a medicinal herb) that grows from underground tuber-bearing rootstocks. It is used to make medicine (as an herbal remedy) dating back to the times of the Greeks and the Romans.
According to a study published in the Archive of Dermatological Research, horsetail contains high levels of silica or silicon dioxide (a compound made up of silicon and oxygen). Silica increases the tensile strength and thickness of hair and reduces brittleness.
The horsetail plant improves blood circulation, which leads to healthier hair follicles.
The herb is believed to stimulate hair growth because of the following properties:
- Antioxidant effects (molecules that protect from the effects of free radicals and prevent cell damage)
- Silica content (rejuvenates hair, adding sheen to the appearance and strength to the hair shafts)
- Contains selenium and cysteine (promote healthy hair growth)
- Improves circulation
- Acts as a diuretic (helps the body cleanse and detox)
What is horsetail?
Horsetail, (Equisetum arvense) belongs to a prehistoric plant family that is speculated to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Though no large-scale studies have been done on this herb, herbalists believe that horsetail has numerous health benefits. The plant contains beneficial compounds that have multiple health-promoting effects, including promoting skin, nail, and hair health.
In ancient times, it was used to stop bleeding, as a diuretic (helps rid the body of excess fluid by increasing urine output), heal ulcers and wounds, and treat tuberculosis and kidney problems.
Horsetail is available in dried herb and liquid preparations.
6 characteristics of the horsetail plant
- Grows in northern Europe and North and Central America and other moist places
- Grows naturally in wild with a long, green, densely branched stem
- Grows from spring to fall
- It is a non-flowering weed
- The hollow stems and shoots look like asparagus initially
- Upon drying, silica crystals form in the stems and branches and look like a feathery tail
What are the other uses of horsetail?
Although there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses, traditionally it was used for the treatment of:
- Edema (fluid retention in the tissues)
- Kidney and bladder stones
- Urinary tract infections
- Incontinence (the inability to control urination)
- Osteoporosis (weak bones)
- General disturbances of the kidney and bladder
It is used to treat health conditions, such as:
- Brittle fingernails
- Joint diseases
- Weight loss
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Hemorrhage (uncontrolled bleeding) of the nose, lung, or stomach
Horsetail is applied topically to the skin to treat wounds and burns.
5 potential benefits of horsetail
- Acts as diuretic
- It acts as a natural diuretic that increases the body’s excretion of urine and ensures that all unnecessary toxins are eliminated from the body through frequent urination urges.
- Promotes wound healing
- A study reported that the topical application of horsetail ointment promotes wound healing and improves wound redness, swelling, and discharge significantly.
- Promotes skin and nails health
- Horsetail contains silicon, a rich mineral that improves the quality and strength of the hair.
- It helps reduce hair loss and boosts the strength of hair and hair follicles besides adding shine and luster to the hair.
- Aids in bone health
- Animal and in vitro studies suggest that horsetail may inhibit osteoclasts (break down bone through resorption) and stimulate osteoblasts (bone synthesis) activity.
- The silica content in horsetail improves the formation, density, and consistency of bone and cartilage tissues by enhancing collagen synthesis and improving calcium absorption.
- Has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects
- Studies reported that horsetail extract may provide relief from inflammation by inhibiting lymphocytes, the primary defense cells involved in inflammatory immune diseases, such as gout and arthritis.
- Horsetail essential oil is believed to have potent activity against bacteria and fungi, including Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Aspergillus niger, and Candida albicans.
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Downsides and side effects of horsetail
Though animal studies suggest its safe, studies are needed to reflect its nontoxicity in humans.
Because horsetail is not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid it and get advice from a registered practitioner before its consumption.
The following people need to be cautious before using horsetail:
- People taking antiretroviral drugs for human immunodeficiency virus treatment (may cause drug-herb interaction)
- People with kidney disease (may increase potassium to an unsafe level)
- People with nicotine allergy (plant contains nicotine)
- People with low thiamine levels or alcohol use disorder (contain a thiaminase, an enzyme that breaks down thiamine or vitamin B1 leading to its deficiency)
What is the safe dosage of horsetail?
Though the safest and most accurate dose is not yet determined by the current scientific evidence, some human studies suggest that a safe dose for human use is:
- Capsule: Contains 900 mg of horsetail extract. Can be taken for four days.
- Herbal infusion (tea): 2 to 3 teaspoons three times per day.
- External: 10 grams of herb per liter of water.
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Wheat & Small Grains. https://smallgrains.wsu.edu/weed-resources/common-weed-list/horsetail/
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