What Is Horsetail? Discover Its Benefits and Uses

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on
This ground horsetail may be used in several wellness-supporting ways because of all its potent natural health benefits.

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is an herbal plant found in Europe, Asia, North America, and the Middle East.[1] The name Equisetum literally translates to “horse bristle” in Latin. It’s also known as scouring rush and shave grass. Horsetail is a legitimate living fossil. Plants like horsetail were around before the dinosaurs. Some of these prehistoric plants were even 100-foot tall, tree-like giants.[2] Today’s common horsetail tops out at about 1.5 feet. And while the plant itself is quite interesting, what really makes horsetail so special is its ability to support our health naturally.

Horsetail Health Benefits

The above-ground bits of the horsetail plant are loaded with healthful properties.[3] Horsetail was used in Ancient Greece and Rome as an herbal remedy for wounds, ulcers, and kidney problems.[2] It has also been traditionally used to promote fluid balance and encourage normal urination; a use supported by modern research.[4]

Horsetail contains silicon,[5] which is known to be beneficial for bone health.[6] Studies confirm that horsetail extract along with calcium support normal bone density.[2]

The list goes on. Horsetail contains antioxidants[7] and a 2006 study found that the essential oil of horsetail may be effective against some types of harmful organisms.[8] One study even found horsetail ointment eased discomfort and hastened healing for women after an episiotomy.[9]

Horsetail has seen thousands of years of use as a natural remedy. Despite this, horsetail only recently started receiving serious scholarly attention. There’s still a lot to be discovered and we are looking forward to learning what research will show. With that said, horsetail has many traditional uses that, as of now, have yet to be confirmed or rejected through credible research. Horsetail has been used as a traditional remedy for:[3]

  • Kidney and bladder health
  • Promoting a healthy body weight
  • Thick and full looking hair
  • Frostbite
  • Heavy periods
  • Fluid retention
  • Urinary tract health
  • Incontinence

How to Consume Horsetail?

There are two ways I prepare horsetail and both are very simple. The first option is to find fresh horsetail (we recommend organic) from your local grocer or farmer’s market. Chop up 1 to 2 tablespoons as finely as you can and place into a large mason jar. Fill the jar to the top with purified water and let it sit in the sun for a day. Drinking the water is one convenient way to consume horsetail. The other way is to make horsetail tea. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried horsetail in boiling water, then cut the heat and allow the tea to steep for about 5 minutes, strain if desired. There are other ways to get all the benefits of horsetail, like supplementing.

Supplementing with Horsetail

Horsetail offers some amazing benefits, but it does carry a few precautions as well. Horsetail contains trace amounts of nicotine. Children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take it.[2] Horsetail breaks down the vitamin, thiamine, which could lead to thiamine deficiency.[3] Consult your healthcare provider before you start supplementing with any new herb.

The use of horsetail goes back thousands of years, and it’s still popular today. There are many ways to supplement with horsetail. It’s available as a dried herb or in liquid form, so choose what suits your needs.

I can recommend a couple of excellent supplements that contain horsetail. The first is Renaltrex®, a blend of horsetail and other powerful herbs that help promote normal kidney function. I also recommend ArthrOrganics, a liquid blend of organic botanicals, including horsetail, used to support joint health. As with any supplementation, the best way to choose what best meets your needs is evaluating those needs carefully. This often means speaking with your primary care provider.

Have you used horsetail? Leave a comment and tell us about your experience.

References (9)
  1. "Horsetail." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.
  2. "Horsetail." University of Maryland Medical Center. University of Maryland, 2 Jan. 2015. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.
  3. "Horsetail." MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 13 Jan. 2016. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.
  4. Carneiro, Danilo Maciel et al. “Randomized, Double-Blind Clinical Trial to Assess the Acute Diuretic Effect of Equisetum Arvense (Field Horsetail) in Healthy Volunteers.” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM 2014 (2014): 760683. PMC. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.
  5. Sola-Rabada, Anna, Julia Rinck, David J. Belton, Annie K. Powell, and Carole C. Perry. "Isolation of a Wide Range of Minerals from a Thermally Treated Plant: Equisetum Arvense, a Mare’s Tale." J Biol Inorg Chem JBIC Journal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry 21.1 (2016): 101-12.PubMed. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.
  6. JUGDAOHSINGH, R. “SILICON AND BONE HEALTH.” The journal of nutrition, health & aging 11.2 (2007): 99–110. Print.
  7. Graefe, E.u., and M. Veit. "Urinary Metabolites of Flavonoids and Hydroxycinnamic Acids in Humans after Application of a Crude Extract from Equisetum Arvense." Phytomedicine 6.4 (1999): 239-46. Web.
  8. Radulović, N., Stojanović, G. and Palić, R. (2006), Composition and antimicrobial activity of Equisetum arvense L. essential oil. Phytother. Res., 20: 85–88. doi: 10.1002/ptr.1815.
  9. Asgharikhatooni, Azam et al. “The Effect of Equisetum Arvense (Horse Tail) Ointment on Wound Healing and Pain Intensity After Episiotomy: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal17.3 (2015): e25637. PMC. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • John Davies

    I have it growing in my garden. How do I prepare it for therapeutic use? That is the problem with these articles, punchy headlines, extraordinary claims, yet they always leave out the essential information making them no more than infomercials for weak herbal capsules.

  • Ben Rockefeller

    I make tea out of dried horsetail, which is available in herb shops and cheap. I use stevia leaf to sweeten it slightly. I suspect, though cannot prove, that it is useful for me and my bones, skin, and hair. I just hope that the herb is not contaminated, but the store is reliable, it seems to me, and if you grow it yourself, then you can be even more sure (probably).

  • Zina

    I also make a tea with horsetail and combine It with nettle,tsp of cacao and tsp of maca powder. A great mineral/herbal mix for bone,skin and hair health. It’s delicious with a little oat milk and tsp of honey. So nourishing.

  • Donna

    I like to take it fresh from the garden. (Make sure to take the new shoots that the branches are not spread out but still pointing towards the sky) A handful is good. Wash it good, and then chop it up. Take 8 to 10 ounces of filtered water put it in a pot and let it boil for 5 minutes then shut off the heat. Put the chopped horsetail in the pot, cover and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain with a sieve or cheese cloth and drink it.

    I also made a shampoo with the infusion.

  • bango53

    I take it for kidneys, 1 capsule morning and night, I have kidney damage and I have changed my life style so that I don’t do any more damage to my kidneys.

  • Sadie

    Read the article it tells clearly how to prepare it.

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