This perennial flowerless plant is most commonly called horsetail herb but is also known as bottle brush, horse willow, Dutch rushes, toadpipe, Corn Horsetail, Atkuyrugu, Quyroughi, and Shavegrass. The value of this herb is found in the hollow, jointed stems. Its history goes back to the Roman physician Galen who recommended its use for kidney and bladder troubles, bleeding ulcers, arthritis, and tuberculosis. The Chinese still use it to treat dysentery, flu, swellings, and hemorrhoids, to cool a fever, and as a remedy for eye inflammations such as conjunctivitis and corneal disorders.
The horsetail stem contains equisetonin and potassium, both beneficial for body cleansing. It is also a source of calcium, magnesium, ascorbic acid and caffeic acid. But the greatest asset to making horsetail a leading herb as a diuretic is the chemical equisetonin. Because of this, horsetail can actually increase unination up to 30%.
Horsetail’s diuretic qualities make it effective to help knock out bacterial and inflammatory diseases of the lower urinary tract. It also helps to flush out kidney and bladder stones. The quantity of silica in horsetail makes it effective in speeding up slowly healing wounds and repairing bony tissues. Silica helps the body store more calcium and this means stronger bones or tendons. It is excellent in dealing with osteoporosis.
Horsetail has good quantities of calcium, silicon, chromium, magnesium, iron, manganese, and potassium. These make it effective in treating anemia and general debility. Other problems that horsetail can help include prostatitis, enuresis, lung damage such as tuberculosis or emphysema, urinary tract infections, and muscle cramps. Horsetail nourishes skin, bones, nails, hair, and the body’s connective tissue.
Horsetail is effective in treating BPH, the benign enlargement of the prostate gland. Its toning and astringent action help to treat incontinence and bed-wetting in children. Recent research shows that horsetail is able to help remove lead accumulations in the body.
Gargle horsetail tea as a mouth rinse for sore throat, mouth ulcers, or bleeding gums. Apply a compress to help heal fractures and sprains, sores, wounds, and skin problems. Swallow it to stop bleeding from ulcers or diminish heavy menstrual bleeding.
To make a compress, mix 10 grams of powdered horsetail in 1 liter of water. Internally, use 6 grams of powdered horsetail and be sure to drink plenty of water. Horsetail tea, is made by pouring boiling water over 2 to 3 g of the herb. Then boil it for 5 minutes, and strain it after 10 to 15 minutes. You can drink this several times a day between meals.
A few warnings are in order. Too much horsetail herb and licorice (and especially alcohol) decrease potassium levels and risk thiamine deficiency and cardiac toxicity. Some advise the following people to stay away from horsetail: breast-feeding patients, pregnant patients, those who are taking a cardiac glycoside, those with impaired heart or kidney function, those with liver problems, and who have a history or potential of thiamine deficiency. The equisetic acid in horsetail is a heart and nerve sedative that could be poisonous in excessive quantities.