Scientific Name: Equisetum arvense, Equisetaceae family
Common Names: Horsetail, shavegrass, common horsetail, field horsetail, corn horsetail, Dutch rushes, horsetail rush, mare's tail, pewterwort, scouring rush, vara de oro.
Parts used: Aerial parts
Active Compounds: Minerals: silicic acids and silicates, potassium, sulphur, manganese, magnesium; flavonoids: quercetin glycosides; phenolic acids, alkaloids, equisetonin, phytosterols: cholesterol, isofucosterol, campesterol; tannins.
The Latin name Equisetum is from equus, horse, and seta, bristle. The common name is indicative the plant's resemblance to the tail of a horse.
Horsetail is native to Pangaea. Considered to be a living fossil, it has changed very little in millions of years. Essentially identical to their prehistoric ancestors, but for the fact that ancient horsetail, based on fossil evidence, were 100-200 feet in height. Comprising huge forests, arborescent horsetails were dominant in the Carboniferous lowland swamps of prehistoric times. They are given their very own family with only one remaining genus, Equisetum, of 25 species of spreading rhizomatous, flowerless, often marginal, aquatic perennials.
Horsetail is considered to be the highest single-plant source of naturally occuring silica. Silica and oxygen are the most prevalent elements on the surface of Earth. The abrasive quality of its silica-rich texture provides a good polishing agent for use on wood and metal surfaces, resulting in the common name of pewterwort.
The Ancient Greeks used horsetail in the treatment of wounds and the Romans used fresh sprouts as potherb, and a medicine. Research conducted in Russia has shown horsetail to be effective in removing lead accumulation in the body.
Native American uses
A poultice of stem pieces was applied to underarm and groin rashes. Powder of stems was sprinkled into moccasins to prevent foot cramps during walks of great distances. An infusion of fertile stem root was given to horses as a diuretic. Infusion of aerial parts was given to horses to relieve hard cough. It was used as a toothache remedy. Raw stems were chewed by infants to alleiviate the pain of teething and strengthen incoming teeth. The whole plant was used as a wash for poison ivy.
Applications: Anti-inflammatory, anodyne, antihemorrhagic, antiseptic, astringent, cardiac, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, galactogogue, hemostatic, nervine, vulnerary.
Used to promote coagulation. Used in nosebleed, wound healing and to arrest internal bleeding of the urinary tract. Useful in treating prostate problems, urethritis, and cystitis. Improves tissue repair. Used to treat arthritis and skin irritations.
Used in the bath it can help relieve joint pain and heal sprains and bone trauma, including fractures and breaks. It promotes calcium absorption in the body and, by improving lipid metabolism, helps to remove fatty deposits in arteries. Is supportive of cardiovascular system.
Horsetail can be used externally to treat acne and eczema. A decoction can be used internally and externally to strengthen weak and splitting nails, and dull, splitting hair. Powdered horsetail makes an excellent addition to skin scrubs and masques. Will cleanse skin, while exfoliating, removing oil and soap residue. It is non-drying and improves skin health.
Resembling very young bamboo slightly, growing as reeds do, Horsetail stems are spreading, branching, joined, and black-tinged, the leaves are tiny and brown tinged, joined to form sheaths. Propagation is by spores produced in sacs in the strobilus (cone-shaped crown of stems.) Spores become airborne gameophytes, germinating into archegonia (egg) or antheridia (sperm). These two meet in water and reproduction begins.
Infusion: 2 tsp in 1 c. water simmer 20 minutes. 3 times daily.
Bath decoction: Simmer 4 oz. in 2 c. water 30 min. Add to bath water.
Capsules: 4-6 capsules, 2 x per day.
Those with kidney disorders or thiamine deficiency should avoid horsetail.
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