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What is Horsetail?
Horsetail (also called Shavegrass) is an herb that I always keep in the herb cabinet (which is what I have instead of a medicine cabinet).
According to Mountain Rose Herbs:
“The plant at that time was as tall as a modern palm tree. Horsetail, not to be confused with cat-tail, is possibly the most abundant source of silica in the plant kingdom, so much in fact that the herb can be used for polishing metal. It got the name “scouring rush” from this very application. It has had other uses during the ages including as an ingredient in shampoos, skincare products, and in dietary supplements. The German E commission describes its use for urinary tract problems and as a diuretic.”
This article elaborates:
“Horsetail is known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antioxidant, coagulant, demulcent, diuretic and astringent activity. Reportedly, it has been used in the treatment of a number of health conditions which include brittle bone, hair, teeth and nails, white spots on nails, gingivitis, tonsillitis, inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth, rheumatic disorders, edema, osteoarthritis, diabetes, acne, wounds, itchiness, rashes, burns, frostbite, chilblains, athlete’s foot, cracked and tired feet, drawing out pus from boils and carbuncles, ulcers, fistulas, herpes simplex, dyspepsia (impaired digestion), gastrointestinal conditions, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory tract infections, bronchitis, fever, malaria, bladder problems, urinary tract infection, bed wetting in children, kidney stones (nephrolithiasis), prostate problems, hemorrhoids, muscle cramps, tumors, broken bones, fractures, sprains, nose bleed and other heavy bleeding. Horsetail is also known to strengthen the body’s immune system.”
I often use Horsetail, especially in external preparations due to its skin/hair supportive high silica content. We use horsetail for:
- An herbal hair rinse that supports strong hair and hair growth. I brew a strong herbal tea (1/2 cup horsetail to 1 cup water), steep for an hour, strain and use as a hair rinse in the shower.
- For boils and blisters- I grind horsetail with plantain and add enough water to create a paste and then pack on to boils or blisters and cover with gauze to speed healing.
- Sore Throat-For sore throat, I make a gargle with a strong horsetail infusion (steeping horsetail in boiling water and then cooling) with sea salt and lemon juice and then gargle with this mixture a few times a day while symptoms persist.
- Bedwetting/Bladder Problems- From this article “Studies have shown that Horsetail extract may be beneficial for patients suffering from nocturnal incontinence (bed-wetting), bladder and urinary tract infections and weakened bladder. It may also relieve the persistent urge to urinate with Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). Suggested remedy is to take one capsule of Horsetail extract two to three times daily. It is reported that taking a bath with Horsetail tea for at least 15 minutes two to three times a week may be helpful for UTI and Bladder weakness. For steam bath, steep 10 teaspoons of dried Horsetail into one quart of boiling water for 10-15 minutes and add the strained tea into the bath water.”
I avoid horsetail when pregnant or nursing (so my whole married life) but use it externally for hair or skin if needed. From MRH: “When taking horsetail powder for its diuretic effect, be sure to drink extra water for maximum benefit. Avoid if there are kidney stones. Don’t take horsetail herb if you take an ACE inhibitor for high blood pressure and you have congestive heart failure, as the combination of the herb and the drug can cause accumulation of excessive potassium. Not recommended while pregnant. Toxicity similar to nicotine poisoning has been seen in children who ingest large amounts.”
Have you ever used horsetail? How did you use it?