Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is an herbal plant found in Europe, Asia, North America, and the Middle East. 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. 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. Horsetail was used in Ancient Greece and Rome as an herbal remedy for wounds, ulcers, and kidney problems. It has also been traditionally used to promote fluid balance and encourage normal urination; a use supported by modern research.
The list goes on. Horsetail contains antioxidants and a 2006 study found that the essential oil of horsetail may be effective against some types of harmful organisms. One study even found horsetail ointment eased discomfort and hastened healing for women after an episiotomy.
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:
- Kidney and bladder health
- Promoting a healthy body weight
- Thick and full looking hair
- Heavy periods
- Fluid retention
- Urinary tract health
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. Horsetail breaks down the vitamin, thiamine, which could lead to thiamine deficiency. 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.
by: Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
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- 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.