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Herb Information
Name: Horsetail
Biological Name: Equisetum arvense, Equiseti hiemalis, Mu zei


Other Names: Shave grass, scouring rush, equisetum, pewterwort, corncob plant, bottle brush, Horsetail
Parts Used: stems, leaves (grass)
Active Compounds:  

Horsetail is very rich in silicic acid and silicates, which provide approximately 2-3% elemental silicon. Potassium, aluminum, and manganese along with fifteen different types of bioflavonoids are also found in the herb. The presence of these bioflavonoids are believed to cause the diuretic action, while the silicon content is said to exert a connective tissue-strengthening and anti-arthritic action. 

Some experts have suggested that the element silicon is a vital component for bone and cartilage formations This would indicate that horsetail may be beneficial in preventing osteoporosis. 

Anecdotal reports suggest that horsetail may be of some use in the treatment of brittle nails. 

The constituents are: 


Alkaloids, including nicotine, palustrine and palustrinine 


Flavonoids such as isoquercitrin and equicetrin 


Sterols including cholesterol, isofucosterol, campesterol. 


Silicic acid. 


Misc: a saponin equisitonin, dimethylsulphone, thiaminase & aconitic acid.


Since it was recommended by the Roman physician Galen, several cultures have employed horsetail as a folk remedy for kidney and bladder troubles, arthritis, bleeding ulcers, and tuberculosis.

Additionally, the topical use of horsetail is said to stop the bleeding of wounds and promote rapid healing. The use of this herb as an abrasive cleanser to scour pots or shave wood illustrates the origin of horsetail's common names-scouring rush and shave grass.

Remedies For

Astringent, diuretic, vulnerary, diaphoretic

Horsetail is useful for:

Brittle nails
Rheumatoid arthritis
Water retention

Horsetail absorbs gold dissolved in water better than most plants, as much as 4 ounces per ton of fresh stalks. Small amounts of gold is found useful for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, and the Chinese used horsetail for this disease.

Horsetail contains a weak diuretic chemical lending support to its traditional use as a urinary stimulant.
Horsetail is also useful for water retention.

Horsetail is an excellent astringent for the genito-urinary system, reducing hemorrhage and healing wounds thanks to the high silica content. It acts as a mild diuretic. It is also invaluable in the treatment of incontinence and bed wetting in children. It is considered a specific in cases of inflammation or benign enlargement of the prostate gland. Externally it is a vulnerary. In some cases it has been found to ease the pain of rheumatism and stimulate the healing of chilblains.

Combinations :
Horsetail is often combined with Hydrangea in the treatment of prostate troubles.

Traditional Chinese Medicine:
Chinese medicine uses horsetail for such ailments as bloodshot eyes and conjunctivitis. Because it is rich in trace minerals, it is excellent as a semi-regular tonic.



Horsetail is widely distributed throughout the temperate climate zones of the northern hemi-sphere, including Asia, North America, and Europe. 

Horsetail is a unique plant with two distinctive types of stems. One variety of stem grows early in spring and looks like asparagus, except for its brown color and the spore-containing cones on top. The mature form of the herb, appearing in summer, has branched, thin, green, sterile stems and looks very much like a feathery tail. 

Horsetail is the sole descendant of the giant fernlike plants that covered the earth some 200 million years ago. The herb's creeping rhizome sends up hollow, jointed, virtually leafless, bamboo-like stalks that reach 6 feet. At the ends of the stacks, spore-bearing structures develop which resemble horsetails, corncobs, or bottle brushes.


Horsetail can be taken daily as a tea at 1-4 grams per day.
Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 2 teaspoonfuls of the dried plant and let infuse for l5-20minutes.. This should be drunk three times a day.

Bath: A useful bath can be made to help in rheumatic pain and chilblains. Allow l00 grams (3 l/2 ounces of the herb to steep in hot water for an hour. Add this to the bath.

Tincture: take 2-6 ml of the tincture three times a day.


This herb should not be used by pregnant women, those who are weak, or those with excessive dryness or frequent urination.

Horsetail is generally considered safe for non-pregnant adults at the recommended dose. The only concern would be that the correct species of horse-tail is used; Equisetum palustre is another species of horsetail, which contains toxic alkaloids and is a well-known livestock poison. FDA rates horsetail as a herb of undefined safety.

The Canadian Health Protection Branch requires supplement manufacturers to document that their products do not contain the enzyme thiaminase, found in crude horsetail, which destroys the B vitamin thiamin. Since alcohol, temperature, and alkalinity neutralize this potentially harmful enzyme, tinctures, fluid extracts, or preparations of the herb subjected to 100 degreeC temperatures during manufacturing should be the preferable form of the plant utilized for medicinal use.

Horsetail is relatively high in selenium. Too much selenium may cause birth defects. In marshes downstream from heavily fertilized agricultural areas, horsetail may be hazardously high in selenium. Pregnant women should avoid this herb.

Equisetine, a chemical contained in horsetail, in large amounts is a nerve poison. Don't let children play with the stems. Ingesting the juice has reportedly caused reactions in children.

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