Equisetum spp., including E. arvense, E. hyemale, E. fluviatile, E. sylvaticum, E. palustre, E. pratense, E. telmateia, and E. maximum.
Horsetail, field horsetail, common horsetail, horsetail grass, corn horsetail, horsetail fern, mare’s tail, horse willow, shave grass, scouring rush, Dutch rushes, horsetail rush, foxtail rush, pewterwort, bottle-brush, shavebrush, joint grass, pine grass, snake grass, puzzle grass, joint weed, pipes, bull pipes, toad pipe, pipe weed, paddock-pipes, devil’s guts, queue de cheval, meadow pine, candock
There are around twenty species of Equisetum, most of which are native to temperate and arctic regions of the northern hemisphere, including North America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa. A few larger species, such as E. giganteum and E. myrochaetum, are native to Central and South America.
Horsetail is a plant that has both fertile and sterile shoots. The fertile shoots, which contain spores, appear first in the spring. The green, sterile shoots are the ones most commonly used in herbal preparations. To harvest these shoots, it's best to cut them just above the base in late spring or early summer. However, it's important to note that after the tops begin to droop, the plants may lose some of their medicinal properties and become harsher on the kidneys. When harvesting horsetail, it's important to choose clean, unpolluted areas as the plant is known to accumulate toxins from the environment. Additionally, it's best to gather upstream from areas that have been treated with inorganic fertilizers.
Horsetail, also known as Equisetum, is a prehistoric plant that has been around for over 200 million years, earning it the nickname of "living fossil". During the time of the dinosaurs, horsetail plants grew to the size of large pine trees and dominated forest landscapes. Interestingly, horsetail plants do not bear flowers or seeds, but instead reproduce through spores and are closely related to ferns.
Horsetail has a long history of medicinal use dating back to ancient Rome, where it was recommended by physician Galen for various ailments such as severed ligaments and nosebleeds. In later centuries, herbalist Culpeper used horsetail for wound healing, skin inflammation, and as a diuretic for urinary tract issues. Even ancient Chinese practitioners recognized the plant's healing properties, using it to treat arthritis, wounds, and hemorrhoids. Today, horsetail is still used in traditional medicine and can be found in various forms such as teas, supplements, and topical creams.(1)
Horsetail, a plant commonly found in North America, has been used by many Native American tribes for centuries to treat kidney and bladder ailments. The Cherokee have also used it to alleviate constipation, while the Cree have used it to regulate menstruation. Additionally, the Iroquois have used horsetail to alleviate headaches and arthritis pain and inflammation. Some tribes even incorporate the plant into their ceremonial practices, such as the Hoh and Quileute who consume the rootstocks during certain medicine ceremonies.(2)
Horsetail has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. It was particularly popular among Eclectic physicians as a diuretic, helping to increase urine flow and relieve urinary tract irritability. In addition, horsetail ashes were used to treat stomach acidity and dyspepsia. The Paiute Indians also found a use for horsetail by burning the aerial parts and using the ashes to treat canker sores and aching gums. Overall, horsetail has a long history of being used for various health concerns.(3)
Horsetail, a plant known for its tonic and astringent properties, has been used for centuries to treat urinary tract issues. It is particularly effective in cases of incontinence and bed-wetting in children. The Eclectics, a group of 19th-century American physicians, used horsetail for this purpose, while homeopaths recommend it for urethritis and bladder infections. Horsetail is also recommended for those with a weak bladder prone to dribbling, and for inflammation of the prostate gland.(4)
Horsetail, a plant known for its high mineral content, is not only beneficial for internal health but also for external use. Its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties make it a popular ingredient in cosmetic products. Horsetail is known to moisturize the skin, reduce wrinkles, and alleviate inflammatory skin conditions such as acne and rashes. Additionally, it is believed to reduce the appearance of cellulite, making it a popular ingredient in body care products.(5)
Adult Dose (6)
Tincture: 30-40 drops of a fresh 1:2 in 40% 2-4x/day.
Infusion: 2-4 ounces of standard infusion for topical use** or 2-3 g dried herb per cup drunk throughout the day between mealtimes.
Decoction: Wood recommends a decoction (rather than infusion) for internal use; boil in a covered vessel for 15-20 minutes.
While horsetail can be beneficial for certain health conditions, it is important to be cautious when using it. The plant contains high levels of silica, which can irritate the digestive system. It is recommended to only use extractions like tinctures or decoctions, rather than consuming the plant itself. Additionally, horsetail contains an enzyme called thiaminase, which can deplete levels of vitamin B1 over time. To avoid this, it is recommended to choose preparations that use high temperatures to neutralize thiaminase, or to supplement with B vitamins while taking horsetail. It is also important to note that thiamine depletion has been observed in horses and other livestock after consuming large amounts of horsetail.(7)
(1)Castleman, M. (2009). The new healing herbs: The essential guide to more than 125 of nature’s most potent herbal remedies. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.
(2)Moerman, D. (1998). Native American medicinal plants: An ethnobotanical dictionary. Portland, OR: Timber Press, Inc.
(3)Angier, B. (2008). Field guide to medicinal wild plants (2nd ed.). Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books.
(4)Smith, E. (2009). Therapeutic herb manual: A guide to the safe and effective use of liquid herbal extracts. Williams, OR: Ed Smith.
(5)Sandhu, N. S., Kaur, S., & Chopra, D. (2010). Equisetum arvense: Pharmacology and phytochemistry – a review. Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research (3) 3, 146-150.
(6)Wood, M. (2008). The earthwise herbal: A complete guide to old world medicinal plants. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
(7)Balch, P. (2012). Prescription for herbal healing (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Penguin Group.
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