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Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)

What is Horsetail?

Horsetail has been growing in bogs and ditches for the last 100 million years. It’s the last remaining member of its family — Equisetaceae — which used to dominate forests throughout the Paleozoic era. Some of the horsetails in this family were behemoths — growing to be as tall as 30 meters.

Like many ancient plant species, horsetail spreads through spores, rather than seeds and has two life cycles — an asexual sporophyte phase (what we know of as the horsetail), and a sexual gametophyte phase (a small, green plant form).

Horsetail is used in herbal medicine for supporting the urinary tract. It contains compounds like saponins, enzymes (like thiaminase), hydrocinnamic acids, thiols, and minerals. Many of these compounds exert a diuretic action. This, combined with potent antibacterial effects makes this herb well-suited for supporting urinary tract infections.

This herb also contains high concentrations of silica — which make it a good health supplement for supporting hair and nail growth.

Common Names for Horsetail

  • Bottle Brush
  • Equisetum
  • Horse pipes
  • Horsetail
  • Joint Grass
  • Puzzle Grass
  • Scouring rush
  • Snake Grass

Herbal Actions of Horsetail

  • Antibacterial
  • Antilithic
  • Astringent
  • Diuretic
  • Styptic (hemostatic)
  • Urinary Antiseptic
  • Urinary Antispasmodic
  • Vulnerary

What Renowned Herbalists Say About Horsetail

“If you pick the young plant and break the seal between the joints, there is still an elastic material within the joint that holds it together. As you roll the joint between your fingers, you will notice that it flexes much like one would want the knee or any joint to flex when bending. The idea of cartilage is immediately presented to the mind.”

Matthew Wood 

Safety & Contraindications

Some herbalists use horsetail to remove bladder or kidney stones — however, this should be done with extreme caution. If a kidney stone becomes lodged in the urinary ducts it can result in a severe kidney infection.

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