WHAT ISGOOD FOR?
Horsetail is a large plant with hollow stems that has survived for more than 100 million years. People have used horsetail for medicinal purposes throughout history, mainly for its diuretic and bone-building properties. Before taking horsetail extract, you should talk with your doctor to discuss any potential side effects or interactions with medications that you’re taking.
History of HORSETAIL
Horsetail gets its name from the plant’s upright stems that resemble horse’s tails. The horsetail plant has been used since ancient times throughout the Northern Hemisphere for its medicinal properties in treating wounds, urinary and kidney problems, tuberculosis, digestive problems, gout and gonorrhea, as well as to staunch bleeding. Horsetail contains large amounts of silicon, and due to its abrasiveness, horsetail has been used for scrubbing cooking pots and polishing, notes the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. For this reason, horsetail has also been called scouring rush, shave grass and bottlebrush plant, notes the University of Michigan Health System.
Today, the silicon content in horsetail offers bone-strengthening effects, making the plant a potential treatment for osteoporosis and brittle nails, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. You can also take horsetail extract as a diuretic to treat edema, or water retention, and urinary tract infections, notes the University of Michigan Health System. Horsetail may also help you if you have rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. When you apply horsetail extract products topically, it can help to heal wounds as well, the University of Michigan adds.
Dosage of HORSETAIL
You can take up to 6 grams of horsetail orally per day or 2 teaspoons of the extract tincture three times daily, says the University of Michigan Health System. The standard dosage of internal horsetail capsules is 1 gram taken three times daily, however, notes the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. For topical applications to heal wounds, you can make a tea by boiling 2 to 4 teaspoons of horsetail in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes and steeping it for another 15 minutes, the University of Michigan advises. Soak a cloth in the tea and apply it to the affected skin areas.
Function of HORSETAIL
Silicon is an element that helps to strengthen bones, improves bone density and contributes to overall bone health. Because horsetail contains high amounts of silicon, the herb may help to harden brittle nails and prevent or slow the progress of osteoporosis, says the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The silicon content may also help to strengthen connective tissues and help to treat arthritis. Horsetail also contains saponins and 15 different flavonoids that are responsible for the herb’s diuretic effects in increasing urine output, notes the University of Michigan Health System.
Warnings of HORSETAIL
The biggest danger is confusing the medicinal horsetail plant, or Equisetum arvense, with Equisetum palustre, a related species that is poisonous for both animals and humans, warns the University of Maryland Medical Center. Horsetail plants can also absorb and concentrate harmful metals from where they grow, posing a potential risk of illness or toxic metal poisoning, says the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Further, because horsetail acts as a diuretic, you can become dehydrated and potassium-deficient if you take too much of the herbal extract or take it for prolonged periods of time. Horsetail extract products that aren’t manufactured properly may contain an enzyme that can cause your vitamin B1 levels to decrease drastically, notes the University of Michigan Health System. Therefore, you may need to avoid drinking alcohol and take a B-complex vitamin supplement while taking horsetail extract, the University of Maryland notes.
Interactions of HORSETAIL
If you use nicotine gum or patches to help in smoking cessation, you shouldn’t take horsetail extract at the same time because the herb contains some levels of nicotine, warns the University of Maryland Medical Center. Don’t take horsetail if you’re taking diuretics or medications belonging to the digitalis family like digoxin, or Lanoxin, because this could cause unsafely low potassium levels in your body, leading to potential heart problems. Also, consult your doctor before taking horsetail if you’re taking lithium, cautions the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.