Horsetail

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Disclaimer: This data is meant for informational purposes only and is not meant to prescribe or treat specific problems. As with any herb or medication, please consult your Doctor of Naturopath or your Medical Doctor before trying anything new.

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"Equisetum arvense"

Horsetail has many different wonderful properties. Some of these include: Astringent, Lithrtriptic, Diuretic, Nutritive, & Vulnerary. Use of this herb can affect the Kidneys, and the Blood of the human body. Preparations are normally in the form of an Infusion, Decoction, Tincture, or Powder for capsules.

Horsetail is high in silica, making it good for skin conditions. It is also a valuable diuretic and was valued for removing gravel from the bladder, and for treating urine retention. Horsetail also helps the blood to coagulate and is used for excessive bleeding and menstruation.

**Horestail should not be used for prolonged periods of time as it may irritate the kidneys. It is better to use in small frequent doseages. Horsetail is a primitive plant that reproduces both sexually and asexually. Sexually it reproduces thru spore production (like ferns) and Asexually it reproduces thru the production of tubers and stolons. The rhizomes run laterally under the water or in wet soils, and commonly form dense mats.

When spring arrives, Horsetail sends up a short, fertile stalk about a foot tall with whorls of bright green brances. Spore-bearing catkins are produced at the top of the middle stalk. Soon oafter, these spores leave the parent plant and are distributed by the wind and the water. Then this stalk dies down and the next stage of the plant emerges. It is a pretty green hollow bamboolike stem with nodes on it. As summer comes the stems turn darker in color until they are a beautiful olive green by the end of the summer.

Horestail is a great addition to a water garden and is quite easy to grow. You can get horsetail starts from nurseries or you can propagate the plant from root sections taken from wild horsetail plants in the spring. Take them when the plant begins sending up its spearlike stems. Place these root divisions just under the surface of soft damp soil. The roots take best when planted so that the water just slightly covers them.

Horsetail usually grows anywhere from 3 to 7 feet tall.

Horsetail is very high in silica, which is an oxide of silicon. It is said to make up almost 40 percent of the total herb. Here is a test you can perform to show you just how this can affect plant tissue.

Pick up a stem of Horsetail and rub it between your fingers. It should have a brittle like squeaky action to it due to the deposits of silica beneath the stems very fine ridges. This is a sort of abraisive action and has traditionally been used to polish metal, sand wood, etc.

This abraisiveness is also the reason that Horsetail got some of its nicknames like Shavegrass (because of shaving or sanding wood), scouring rush, & pewterwort.

I found these explanations interesting during my studies so I thought you might enjoy them too.

Horsetail contains very small amounts of calcium, but old folk lore tells us that it was drank as a tea as an herbal treatment for mending bones that were broken. Horsetail herb tea was also used to stop bleeding, both internally and externally in Europe.

Horsetail is best believed to be gathered in the fall to obtain its diuretic and cooling properties. Fall harvested Horsetail is also believed to be eliminating to the kidneys. If you are using Horsetail for its silica content, it is also believed that you should use only fall harvested Horsetail.

Spring harvested Horsetail (the barren cane stems) was traditionally used as an infusion to help build strength in the kidneys.

Horsetail is a very valuable herb that the average person thinks of as only ornamental or invasive. (Okay, technically it is invasive! :->)

Marcia Wilson
Journeywoman Herbalist
The Allways Natural Herb Farm
10/21/98

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© 1998- Linda Coffin

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