Horsetail Herb Profile

Herb Profile Horsetail Shavegrass Uses and Benefits

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.”

Horsetail Uses

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.”

Additional Notes

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? Tell me below!

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Reader Comments

  1. This is one of the herbs that is on my mental list to try this year. We have it growing wild in our neighborhood and I have been reading about it several places. Thanks for the information that you shared!

      • Yes it grows great in Texas, I have an area of yard that is almost full shade and the ground stays wet, not much will grow there, until I found horse tail and planted it there, its taken off and grows well.

  2. Yes, I like to use it for what its nickname implies, shaving. I’ll use horsetail tea to make the lye solution for shaving soap. Have yet to try it internally, but I think I will now. Every time I’ve ever gone down to the river to harvest it, I’ve ended up with a bad case of poison ivy. So now I find one ounce packages in the spice section at Walmart of all places.

    • Can you elaborate on the horsetail lye solution? I thought in soap making, lye was traditionally taken from wood ash. Can you use horsetail instead then?


    • Hi, I would like to know what it’s under (name) in the spice section at Wal Mart? Tried to find it today and didn’t have any luck. I’d like to be able to make tea, and a hair rinse…..?? Thanks :)

      • Hi, I found it in the Tea section at Wal-Mart. Its in a box and it contains tea bags. I have not found it as a pill nor liquid.
        Also if you have a Mexican Food Store or a Mexican Section at Wal-Mart, it is called Cola de Caballo in Spanish. Hope this helps.

        • You may have already heard this from someone else but, there is now horsetail in pill form. I got mine at a vitamin shop in Illinois. It cost me about 12$ for raw fresh freeze dried horsetail 50 veg caps 375mg by eclectic.

  3. I’m currently taking horsetail in tincture form in an effort to heal some torn cartilage in my hip. *fingers crossed*

    • hello,
      Are you still taking horsetail? How much did it help you, just curious as I have started for about a week and see less inflammation in my fingers. I had 2 full hip replacement and problem with the knees, therefore just wondering how much it helped you. Thanks

  4. Hi:)
    I have a question about Horsetail and breastfeeding. I see you do not take it while pregnant or breastfeeding. I have read this elsewhere too. I’m a bit confused, I was going to order Dr Christopher’s calcium tea, then I realized I could just make it myself at a much better price with bulk herbs from Mountain Rose. So I’ve ordered the herbs, comfry, horsetail, oatstraw, raspberry…a few others since while bf i drink nettle and raspberry regularly anyway…
    i went on the Dr Christopher’s legacy page and found that this combo of herbs is something he would prescribe to help heal teeth and grow stronger teeth in children and he also advised pregnant and breastfeeding women to take it. so I’m all excited about making this formula myself with a recipe I found but now I’m concerned about the Horsetail. Has anyone taken Dr Christopher’s calcium formula while pregnant or bf? I’m wondering if I should just leave the comfry (sp?) and horsetail out and just make a mouth wash with those herbs to add to my teeth healing regiment.
    does anyone know anything about it? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! :)

    • I can’t speak on the pregnancy subject, but I do know from personal experience that it does help with teeth and gum issues. I used the tincture.

  5. I just read about this herb and its healing potential for osteoporosis. I have osteopenia. How would I use this herb long term?

  6. I am confused about horsetail and kidney stones. I get calcium oxalate stones so I usually have to avoid greens and things with heavy tannins. I thought this was good for them but you said do not take it if you have stones. I never know when they may be forming so what do you recommend? Thanks so much. I want to live healthy but am afraid of greens, sincerely, Deb

    • As I understand it, eating dark leafy greens – like kale, collard greens, swiss chard – are very good to eat to help keep calcium in your bones where it belongs. Otherwise you end up with things like bone spurs (& perhaps the calcium oxalate stones) that means calcium is being leached out of your bones.

  7. Hi Katie
    I want to use the horsetail on blisters, when I do bars in crossfit I get a lot of blisters on my hands and because of that I have to stop my training until they get better and dry, I need something that can dry them super fast. In your recipe you mention plantain, is that the actual plantain? The whole plantain? Just the inside or out? Or is an oil?
    I’m also going to use tea tree oil for it, maybe that can help to dry faster. But I also want to try the horsetail recipe .
    Pleaseee help me with this !!! Thank you

  8. Hi Katie,

    Do you recommend liquid extract or tincture form of horsetail? I am unsure of the difference between the two– can you clarify?

    Also, do you know of a reputable company that ships to the UK?

    Thanks for this great post. Looking forward to getting some.

      • Hi Katie, I’ve posted something several times and have not received a reply yet. I’m sure u have lots to reply to so I’m sorry if I’m a pest :( I am losing my hair on the right side of my head and am trying to learn where I can get the horsetail I need for a hair rinse. I have Natures Answer Horsetail liquid, 2000mg. Can I use that? And what is tincture? Thank u Katie. I’m desperate.

        • The horsetail liquid should work- a tincture is just a mixture of herbs that has been preserved in alcohol or glycerine. If you are losing your hair though, have you thought about seeing a naturopathic doctor?

        • Hi, I suffered with a large degree of rapid hair loss a year ago from stress and due to the meds I take. I take horsetail capsules (Holland & Barratt ( plus Selenium and Biotin.
          The combination of all 3 has made a huge difference! My hair stopped falling out and started growing back after 3 months.

          I also add coconut oil (KTC) to my daily diet.
          Hope that helps and good luck :)

  9. i take ‘ all day energy greens ” and i have noticed my hair in places is turning dark , one of the ingredients is horsetail i would like your comment and if this is what is helping the hair change color how can i accelerate the process thank you

  10. Horsetail grows in my backyard. I need to know whether to use it only in its dry state, or can it be used in a green, freshly harvested state? It is so prolific that I’m pulling it as it crosses ‘baracades’ into unapproved territory. New green, mature green, or dried…please respond.

    • I’ve read online (while researching silica) that the fresh and/ or ground state are used for polishing tin, so not to be taken internally or you could damage your insides. You could make a tea or throw in the bath for a soak.

  11. Horsetail + horseradish leaves or either alone boiled in water. The water is the best pesticide for plants ever. Have you ever seen bugs on either?

  12. Hi,
    This is so interesting, thanks Katie!!
    Like others I am over-run by Horsetail and it grows up to 5feet tall in the paddock at the bottom of the garden and I pull it out daily in the garden itself!!
    I have a dog with a slight incontinence problem and I’m running out of options to keep the old boy going :-( Other than this a few old bones he is a great lad and not ready to meet his maker yet! I would love to try and help him with what is essentially a weed in the garden but again as above need to know how I use it in it’s raw form to make a tea or infusion?
    Can I use it fresh or does it have to be dry?
    What Dosage would I use for 27KG Border CollieX?
    I have also read elsewhere that you can use Goldenrod with Horstail, again what I grow in the garden!
    If Combining with Horstail how much Goldenrod would I use and how would I use it?
    I also read that Nettles can be used in conjunction to help the bones (again Plentiful here!)
    How would I use the nettles with it?
    Any help or advice would be simply brilliant and very much appreciated.
    And of course you’d be helping to keep my old best friend going for a little bit longer!! :-)

  13. how do we know the difference between horsetail and the great horsetail plant as we’ve heard the latter is poisonous?

  14. Interesting, I used horse tail for kidney stones. I had them in both kidneys about 3 years. ago. My mother-in-law has it growing in her front yard. She cut some and I used it for making tea. Washed it real well and boiled it. I don’t recall how long I drank it in between appointments. When I went to the doctor they were surprised, one kidney was completely free of stones and the other the stone had decreased in size. I still got it obliterated but only had to endure the procedure on one kidney instead of both. I’ve been curious of other uses for horse tail and came across your blog. Thanks for the info.

  15. My 4 week old baby has reflux and spitting issues.she is not able to sleep in her back for poor esophageal / stomach digestion.i am exclusively breast feeding.can I use horsetsil in moderate?

  16. There seems to be two horsetail herb plants. Which is which, the right one or are they the same? There is the one that looks soft and green like a bottle brush, then the other looks like long tails that grow straight up. What is the difference and when ordering this herb how do I know which one I got??????

  17. I’m currently drinking a stong horsetail tea infusion at least once a day to help with a hair loss issue. The silica in the tea seems to strengthen the hair and assist in promoting re-growth. My nails have never been nicer either.

  18. i just started yesterday, half a cup of dried horsetail herbs with hot water at night. Hoping it will help my hair grow back and skin become clearer

  19. Plantain like green banana, or plantago plantain, and what part? The leaves or do you make the paste out of psyllium fiber, the seeds make a pretty thick paste when they get wet.

  20. Hi. I started reading about Horsetail to learn about its use for hair loss due to my long hair thinning on one side of my head. With what I’ve learned I’d like to try it for several other medical problems I’m dealing with. I ordered supplements and extract, and would like to know….can I use the extract in a tea or should I be using the herb? Also, what is tincture? (Sp?). I have TBI so it’s confusing. Thank you so much :)

  21. Do you have any solutions for UTIs caused by group b strep? I keep getting them and would like to find another solution

    Thanks for your help.


  22. HI, I’ve used horsetail as a herbal tea to settle upset stomach several times and it seems to work well. I do wonder if I am using the best species and if I could identify which is the best I would feel better about using it

  23. My mom use to make a solution from horsetail to use as a bathing compress on poison ivy when I was young which helped. Now as an adult I have been battling with eczema for about 10 years. Would the horsetail solution compresses help the eczema? Thank you!

  24. I have horsrtail plants in my garden, but have never used for medicinal purposes. As my hair started falling, I’ll make a try

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