Benefits and Uses of Horsetail (Shavegrass)

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Herb Profile-Horsetail Shavegrass Uses and Benefits
Wellness Mama » Blog » Natural Remedies » Benefits and Uses of Horsetail (Shavegrass)

I’ve been using herbs and herbal preparations for years now to treat mild issues at home. 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!). It has been my go-to for hair, skin, and nail health but I am still learning that there are even more benefits and uses of horsetail herb.

What Is Horsetail?

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is a medicinal plant used for remedies that dates back to ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. But it has been around much longer, as early as before the dinosaurs. Prehistoric horsetail was much taller, the size of a tree, but today’s horsetail reaches just about 4 feet tall. Horsetail is thought to be the most abundant source of silica in the plant kingdom. Because of this, it has been used in the past to polish metal.

The above-ground part of the plant is what is used for herbal medicine. It has been used traditionally for many ailments and to support natural health:

  • Hair, bone, nail, and skin health
  • Mouth and throat health
  • Healing wounds
  • Viral infections
  • Digestion help
  • Cardiovascular and respiratory ailments
  • Bladder problems (including bed-wetting)
  • Bleeding issues
  • Immune system support

While herbalists have used horsetail for traditional remedies for many years, there isn’t a lot of scientific data to support its use. However, the small amount of research that is available is promising and makes a case for further research.

Horsetail Benefits

Horsetail has many uses in traditional herbal medicine. Science is also beginning to back up these claims. Here are some of the most common benefits of horsetail:

High in Nutrients and Antioxidants

One of the most interesting benefits of horsetail is how nutrient dense it is. Horsetail contains the following nutrients:

  • Vitamin C
  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Electrolytes like potassium, calcium, and magnesium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Copper

Horsetail also contains Kynurenic acid, which reduces inflammation and pain, as well as silica, which supports collagen production. It also contains chlorophyll, known to fight cancer by preventing the cytotoxic and hyperproliferative effects of iron metabolism.

Additionally, research suggests that horsetail has antioxidant properties and may even inhibit cancer cell growth because of this.

Promotes Bone Health

The high level of silica in horsetail is one of its main health benefits. Silica is important for bone and teeth health among other things. In a 1999 study, post-menopausal women with osteoporosis regained significant bone density after 1 year of supplementation of horsetail.

Fights Illness and Infection

Traditional herbalists use horsetail on wounds, especially boils and carbuncles. It turns out this use is scientifically backed. Horsetail has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that help with disease and infection. One 2006 study tested horsetail essential oil on a number of bacteria and fungi like Staph, Salmonella, and Candida. It was found to have a broad spectrum effect on all strains tested.

Has Diuretic Properties

Horsetail has been used traditionally as a diuretic and to treat bladder issues for centuries. A 2014 study found that horsetail works as well as a conventional diuretic medicine (hydrochlorothiazide) without side effects such as significant changes to liver or kidney function or electrolyte balance.

Additionally, many diuretic drugs cause electrolyte issues but this study found that horsetail does not cause the same issues. This may be because horsetail is also a good source of electrolytes.

Supports Hair, Skin, and Nail Health

Horsetail has also been used traditionally for hair, skin, and nail health. It’s thought that the high silica content of horsetail is the reason why it works. Silica helps boost collagen production which is important for healthy hair, skin, and nail.

Science backs this up too. A 2016 study found that hair with high amounts of silica was less likely to fall out and was also more lustrous than hair with lower levels of silica.

Horsetail can even help regrow hair after hair loss. According to this 2012 study, significant hair growth occurred after 90 and 180 days of supplementing with horsetail herb.

One study published in the Journal of Plastic Dermatology found that using horsetail topically on nails reduced splitting and fragility of nails as well as reduced longitudinal grooves.

Additionally, a 2015 study found horsetail ointment helped heal episiotomy wounds and reduced pain associated with it.

Horsetail Uses

I often use this herb, especially in external preparations due to its skin/hair supportive high silica content:

  • Increase bone density – Take a supplement of horsetail with calcium daily.
  • As an herbal hair rinse – 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 the dried herb 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.
  • For nails – Use horsetail oil on nails to improve strength and reduce breakage and splitting.
  • As diuretic – Drink horsetail tea to remove excess water.
  • 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 – A capsule of horsetail extract two or three times daily may be helpful for alleviating some of the symptoms of bladder and urinary tract infections (although not necessarily solving the problem, see this post on UTIs), incontinence, and even bed wetting because it can relieve the urge to urinate. Or try a bath in horsetail tea (steep dried horsetail in a quart of boiling water for 10-15 minutes and then strain and add to bath).

Is Horsetail Safe? Additional Notes

I avoid this herb when pregnant or nursing (so my whole married life!) but use it externally for hair or skin if needed.

Precautions for using horsetail include:

  • Drink lots of water while taking horsetail
  • Don’t take if you have a kidney problem
  • Check with your doctor if you take medications as some may interact with horsetail (including causing potassium imbalance)
  • Horsetail may lower blood glucose so diabetics should check with their doctor before use
  • Because it contains traces of nicotine, horsetail is not recommended for children
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid horsetail as there aren’t any safety studies
  • Choose a thiaminase-free formula as thiaminase can block absorption of thiamine

Otherwise, horsetail is generally considered safe when taken in short-term use.

Where to Buy Horsetail

There are many places you can purchase it from online, and possibly even locally, but I typically buy it and make it as a tea. This powdered version is a little more convenient you don’t have to steep or strain it. You can also try capsule form, although I haven’t personally.

You can also grow your own horsetail. If you want to try it, start with it in a container since it spreads very easily and may take over your garden!

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Lauren Jefferis, board certified in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor or work with a doctor at SteadyMD.

Have you ever used horsetail? How did you use it? Tell me below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


114 responses to “Benefits and Uses of Horsetail (Shavegrass)”

  1. Lorraine Near Avatar
    Lorraine Near

    I use the horsetail bamboo dried cut ( comes in a pack ) boiled in with my morning & afternoon tea. A Spanish man was telling me about this in the store & said it is medicine for “Everything”!!! So I tried it & I IMMEDIATELY feel a difference.

  2. Kylie Avatar

    Is horsetail extract on hair products ok whilst breastfeeding. I keep seeing mixed reviews.

  3. Linda Avatar

    I read on webmd the opposite about horsetail and potassium. It could lower the levels of potassium not increase but ace inhibitors are not in the mix but all the same if it has a tendency to lower it alone the combo with ace inhibitors shouldn’t have a reverse effect. I’m personally confused.

  4. JoJo Avatar

    The article states that horsetail is beneficial for kidney stones due to its diuretic properties. But then it also states that it is beneficial for the prevention of bedwetting. How does this herbal diuretic prevent bedwetting? Are their articles out their that explain the mechanism of action?

  5. Jemichel Avatar

    Thank you! Is it possible to have a follow-up article focused on the use of Horsetail for teeth?

  6. Amsey Horst Avatar
    Amsey Horst

    I am in Vancouver Canada. I have a patch of horsetail in a raised be. What I have learned is that the more you pull it out the thicker it gets. Anywhere you break a root a new plant forms. It’s almost impossible to get all the roots because they go down 5′. If you keep it cut short like lawn grass it should die off in a few years but trying to keep it out of an area where you don’t want it by pulling it will not likely work.

  7. Delilah Avatar

    Is it safe to take Horsetail topically while pregnant? Need Advice

    I am using this body Merry stretch mark cream and one of the ingredients is horsetail. I am just wondering should I stop taking the cream. I am 20weeks pregnant no health issues.

  8. Michelle Avatar

    How long can you take this? I just got a bag of the horsetail herb from Amazon and have been drinking it as tea. I add a little sweetener and it is really delicious. Some websites say not to take this long term. Can anyone help me out as to how much a day is safe and can I drink it everyday? Has anyone had an issue with it interfering with their Thiamine? Thanks

  9. Della Ratcliffe Avatar
    Della Ratcliffe

    Thanks for this info on horsetail. I was walking today here in Vancouver Canada and picked a few stems. When making a tea – for both drinking as well as for a jphaur conditioner -, do you use only the leaves/needles or the stems as well?

    1. Kristina Avatar

      lol, yeah thats a lot of uses, i bought some silica from the natural food store, trying a new herb this year, hope it helps with dry hair loss spots on the top of head, looking forward to helping with improved vision.

  10. Melissa Avatar

    Hi, I have a liquid made up of 50/50 horsetail and oat straw. I intended to take the liquid (5ml in water daily) until I discovered it may not be totally safe to consume whilst breastfeeding? I’m needing another way to use it now. If I used it externally on my hair, how much (ml) would I use and how to use it? Thanks in advance!

  11. AmberJea Avatar

    Hi there, quick question: I make a gallon of tea using a cup of lemon grass, half a cup peppermint leaf, and a half cup horsetail. I’ve never used horse tail in the past but wanted to give it a try for the silica properties and the immune properties. I just read that it may not be safe to give to children and I just wanted to find out if you think that this may be a bit too much for a gallon of water because I don’t want to cause any deficiencies. During my brief time studying of herbalism, I saw that the herb was completely safe during pregnancy and lactation, but now I’m reading that info is different and may be unsafe. I just want to be sure that I don’t have to dump out my gallon of organic yummy tea 🙂
    thank you in advance.
    Have a great day,

  12. Sundarman Shrestha Avatar
    Sundarman Shrestha

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

  13. Bernie Tackett Avatar
    Bernie Tackett

    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!

    1. Reba Avatar

      Epsoms salts or bentonite clay wraps have helped some with eczema. Or borax in your bath water. Hydrogen peroxide in the water would be helpful too.

      1. Maria Avatar

        Hi all, I don’t know how old this is but I had a question so thought I’d try. I have hair loss and alway seem to retain water. I take a Blood pressure pill 40mg beta blocker 7 in the evening and I take a 1/2 grain WP thyroid at 7am. Can I take horse tail? If so how much, what time of day and should it be tea, capsules etc?

  14. Andy Avatar

    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

  15. Tricia Avatar

    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.


    1. Elsye Avatar

      Hello. I use to suffer from uti all the time. The only thing that cured, yes cured me was apple cider vinegar. 1 to 2 tablespoons 3 times a day. Trust me, it works.

    2. Reba Avatar

      Baking soda (1/2 tsp – 1 tsp may help) or D-Mannose. I’ve read these remedies are helpful for Urinary Tract Infections.

  16. Kim Hassan Avatar
    Kim Hassan

    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 🙂

    1. Tammy Avatar

      Refer to the above answer by Katie (Wellness Mama) that says a tincture is just a mixture of herbs that has been preserved in alcohol or glycerine. I would use the herb in a tea or just take the supplement.

  17. Charlie Bogen Avatar
    Charlie Bogen

    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.

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