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Horsetail quick review
Botanical description: member of the genus Equisetum, a perennial (returns each year) with hollow stems and shoots that look like asparagus.
Active constituents: silicic acid, saponins, glycosides, hytosterols, phenolic acids, cafeeic acids, alkaloids, tannins, potassium, aluminum, and manganese.
Health benefits : helps to promote the body's absorption of calcium, speed healing of surface injuries, eliminate excess oil from skin and hair.

Side effects : contraindicated in those who have edema, high doses may cause irreversible kidney damage.


Horsetail refers to plants of the genus Equisetum, which is the single surviving genus of a large group (Equisetophyta) of primitive vascular plants. Horsetail is a unique plant with two distinctive types of stems. One variety of stem grows early in spring and looks like asparagus, except for its brown color and spore-containing cones on top. The plant is a perennial (returns each year) with hollow stems and shoots that look like asparagus. Stems may be singular or have whorls of branches. Only single stems produce the cone-shaped spore producing body at the tip. Horsetails can be standing in water or or in wet areas. Horsetail stems contain silicon crystals (i.e. sand) embedded in its tissue. This gritty texture gives it a common name of "scouring rush". The leaves are minute, pointed-triangular, and form in a whorl at each node on the stem; there is one leaf for each ridge on the stem. It does not flower, but produces spore-like sacs which are visible from spring to fall. Commonly found in damp soil, the sterile stems are harvested in summer and carefully dried and all discoloured parts discarded. The name horsetail arose because it was thought that the stalk resembled a horse's tail.

Active constituents of horsetail

Horsetail contains silicic acid, saponins, glycosides, hytosterols, phenolic acids, cafeeic acids, alkaloids, tannins, potassium, aluminum, and manganese. Horsetail is rich in silicic acid and silicates, which provide approximately 2–3% elemental silicon. They help mend broken bones and form collagen. Horsetail contains relatively large amounts of silica and smaller amounts of calcium. Both silica and calcium are components of bones, joints, and connective tissues such as tendons and ligaments. Fifteen types of bioflavonoids are also present. These bioflavonoids are believed to be responsible for horsetail's strong diuretic action.

Medicinal uses and health benefits of horsetail

In folk medicine, horsetail has also been used for tuberculosis, profuse menstrual bleeding, brittle finger nails, hair loss, water
retention, rheumatic diseases, gout, swelling, fractures, frostbite, and nasal, pulmonary, and gastric bleeding. Horsetail is rich in minerals, particularly silica deposited in its stems. Silica helps to promote the body's absorption of calcium, an important component in tissue repair and bone and cartilage formation. Silica extracted from field horsetail is utilized for manufacture of remineralizing and diuretic medicinal products. Other potential uses of biogenic silica include industrial applications, detergents, and cleaners. Horsetail facilitates the absorption of calcium by the body, which nourishes nails, skin, hair, bones, and the body's connective tissue. It has also been used as part of a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Horsetail has been used as a diuretic, in the treatment of kidney and bladder disturbances, to stop bleeding and promote healing, as an antitubercular drug and in cosmetics. Horsetail's ability to stop blood flow has made it useful in treating nosebleeds, internal bleeding, heavy menstrual bleeding, bleeding hemorrhoids, and bleeding wounds. Horsetail have an astringent effect that may lessen bleeding when applied to minor injuries such as cuts and scrapes. It may also speed healing of surface injuries. The plant alone, boiled in water, makes an effective foot soak for tired feet, or for the treatment of athlete's foot. Horsetails have jointed stems with a ring of long, pointed leaves and branches at each joint. The herb helps eliminate excess oil from skin and hair. Horsetail is also used in remedies for hair loss, cystic ulcers, rheumatoid arthritis , gout, gonorrhea, digestive disturbances, bronchitis, lung disorders, tuberculosis, poor teeth and gums, varicose veins , and fallen arches.

Side effects, precautions, interactions

Horsetail is generally considered safe. Horsetail will promote urination, adequate fluid should be consumed when taking horsetail preparations orally. People with heart or kidney disorders should not use horsetail. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take horsetail. Horsetail is contraindicated in those who have edema because of an impaired heart or kidney function. Horsetail is known to block the absorption of thiamine, and lead to thiamine deficiency. Long-term use or high doses of horsetail have caused irreversible kidney damage due to too much silica.