The horsetail herb is also known as horse willow, toadpipe, bottle brush, Corn Horsetail, Dutch rushes, Quyroughi, Atkuyrugu, and Shavegrass. It is a perennial flowerless plant whose value is found in the hollow, jointed stems. First recommended by the Roman physician Galen, several followed his advice to treat for kidney and bladder troubles, arthritis, bleeding ulcers, and tuberculosis. The Chinese still use it to cool a fever and as a remedy for eye inflammations such as conjunctivitis and corneal disorders. They also use it to treat dysentery, flu, swellings, and hemorrhoids. The fresh or dried green stems of horsetail are collected in summer.
The horsetail constitutes one of the most diuretic species in all the plants. In other words it possesses a great capacity to eliminate water from the body. This is due to the chemical ingredient equisetonin. Horsetail can actually increase unination up to 30%. This fact means it is often used in products for weight loss. Equisetonin and potassium are especially beneficial for this but calcium, magnesium, ascorbic acid and caffeic acid also contribute to this ability.
Horsetail also has the power to help knock out bacterial and inflammatory diseases of the lower urinary tract and flush out kidney and bladder stones. Horsetail also speeds up slowly healing wounds and repairs bony tissues because of the quantity of silica in the plant. Silica helps to fix calcium, so that the body can store more quantity of this mineral and it is able to form stronger bones or tendons. This means horsetail is a good herb to take when dealing with osteoporosis.
Because of its mineral content horsetail is recommended for anemia and general debility. It has also been used to treat lung damage such as tuberculosis or emphysema. Horsetail is an excellent herbal source of silicon, calcium, magnesium, chromium, iron, manganese, and potassium. It has been used to treat prostatitis, enuresis, urinary tract infections and muscle cramps. This herb nourishes nails, hair, skin, bones and the body’s connective tissue.
Horsetail is considered a specific remedy in cases of inflammation or benign enlargement of the prostate gland. Its toning and astringent action make it of value in the treatment of incontinence and bed-wetting in children. Recent research in Russia has apparently demonstrated that horsetail is effective in removing lead accumulations in the body.
It may be taken internally to stop bleeding from ulcers or diminish heavy menstrual bleeding. It may also be used as a gargle and mouth rinse for sore throat and bleeding gums or mouth ulcers. Externally it may be applied as a compress to fractures and sprains, wounds, sores, and skin problems.
Externally use 10 grams of the powdered herb in 1 liter of water for compresses. Internally, use the powdered herb for infusions, taken orally in an average daily dose of 6 grams. If you take horsetail internally, drink plenty of water. To make horsetail tea, pour boiling water over 2 to 3 g of the herb, boil for 5 minutes, and then strain after 10 to 15 minutes. It can be consumed several times a day between meals.
Overuse of licorice with horsetail may increase potassium depletion and risk of cardiac toxicity and thiamine deficiency (especially when used in connection to excessive alcohol consumption). Some advise pregnant patients, breast-feeding patients, those with impaired heart or kidney function, with liver problems, who are taking a cardiac glycoside, and who have a history or potential of thiamine deficiency (for example, alcoholic patients) should avoid using horsetail. The plant contains equisetic acid, which is thought to be identical to aconitic acid. This substance is a heart and nerve sedative that is a poison when taken in abnormally high doses.