An herbal remedy used since the Classical times of the Greeks and Romans, horsetail is a weed that can be found in parts of Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. Horsetail has traditionally been used to stop bleeding, heal ulcers and wounds as well as treat tuberculosis and kidney problems. Common names for horsetail include bottle brush, common horsetail, Dutch rush, horse herb, horsetail grass, shave grass and toadpipe.
Horsetail has been suggested as a potential treatment for osteoporosis as it contains silicon – a necessary mineral for healthy bones. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, only one study has been conducted on the use of horsetail for osteoporosis. It found that those who took a combination horsetail-calcium supplement increased their bone density; however, it has been noted that this study was poorly designed, and thus, additional research is needed to determine horsetail’s efficacy for treating osteoporosis.
Other Medicinal Uses
Horsetail has been suggested for the treatment of kidney stones, urinary tract infections, brittle nails and minor wounds and burns; however, scientific evidence supporting horsetail for these conditions is lacking. There is also insufficient evidence to support the use of horsetail for weight loss, hair loss, gout, frostbite, heavy periods and incontinence. According to MedlinePlus, additional reported uses include the treatment of jaundice, hepatitis, joint diseases and the uncontrollable bleeding of the nose, lung or stomach.
Horsetail should not be given to young children. To consume the remedy as an herbal infusion, pour hot water over two to three teaspoons of horsetail and steep for five to ten minutes. To make a compress, mix 10g of horsetail with one litre of water. Because of the diuretic effects of horsetail, drink enough water while taking this herb.
Use of horsetail may cause your levels of thiamin – vitamin B1 – to drop, and the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends taking a multivitamin or a vitamin B-complex supplement daily while using horsetail. Do not drink alcohol while using horsetail, as this combination can also cause thiamin levels to drop. If you suffer from heart or kidney disorders, diabetes or gout, do not take horsetail. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding also should not use horsetail. Talk to your healthcare provider before beginning use of any herbal supplement.