Equisetum arvense, also known as horsetail, is a popular herb harvested for medicinal purposes. Traditionally used as a diuretic, Equisetum arvense has many other beneficial medicinal applications. As with any other herbal supplement, there are risks associated with its use for certain individuals. Before starting any herbal supplement, individuals should speak with a qualified healthcare professional to discuss the benefits and risks of its use.
A perennial plant with ancient lineage, Equisetum arvense thrives in sandy soil and is commonly found in parts of North America, Europe, and Asia. Maturing to a height of nearly 4 feet tall (1.219 m), some species of the genus Equisetum have been known to grow as high as nearly 30 feet (9.144 m). Preferring acidic soil, Equisetum arvense is characterized by its aerial branches and strand-like stalk from which the name horsetail is derived.
Horsetail possesses the highest concentration of silica, also called silicon, of any plant on Earth. As an important trace constituent, silica aids with the cohesion of molecular proteins found in the body's connective tissues, such as the blood vessels. As a dietary requirement, silica promotes bone health by contributing to the maturation and stability of the skeletal system. The body's absorption of calcium from diet is bolstered by silica, which also works to strengthen teeth.
Due to its beneficial effects on the skeletal system, Equisetum arvense is useful in the treatment of fractured and broken bones. Research has demonstrated that injured bones tend to heal more quickly with the use of horsetail supplements or the application of horsetail powder-based poultices. Though more research needs to be conducted, preliminary studies have shown that daily use of horsetail supplements may be beneficial in the prevention of osteoporosis.
There are several cosmetic benefits associated with the use of horsetail as a dietary supplement. Traditionally, horsetail has been utilized to improve the strength, tone, and texture of the skin, hair, and nails. Horsetail's silica content also plays a pivotal role in the composition of collagen, which gives the skin its muscular tone and elasticity.
When prepared as a decoction, some users have found horsetail to be beneficial in relieving symptoms associated with excessive menstruation, as well as various kidney and bladder conditions. The herbal tea may also be used to relieve itching, irritation, and inflammation associated with skin conditions such as eczema. The herbal decoction may be used to treat symptoms associated with other conditions including ulcers, urinary tract infections, and respiratory issues. Juice derived from the horsetail stems is processed and utilized for the treatment of urinary disorders and chronic conditions that adversely impact the lungs and respiratory system.
To prepare an herbal horsetail decoction, the herb must be simmered for minimum of three hours in order to extract essential elements. Horsetail powder may be diluted with water and ingested to soothe heartburn. Similarly, when diluted with water, the powdered form of horsetail may be used as a mouthwash to treat inflammations and irritations of the mouth and oral orifice.
Dosages associated with herbal horsetail supplements and remedies are dependent on the form in which it is taken. When taken as directed, Equisetum arvense is considered a safe and beneficial herbal supplement. Individuals taking laxatives, diuretics, or steroids should avoid using horsetail. Women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid using Equisetum arvense or products containing the herb.