The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

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Horsetail

Scientific Names

Horsetail

  • Equisetum arvense L.
  • Equisetaceae

Common Names

  • Bottlebrush
  • Joint grass
  • Mu-zei (Chinese name)
  • Pewterwort
  • Shave grass
  • Silica
  • Scouring rush

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Parts Usually Used

Sterile stems, best used fresh but can be dried.
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Horsetail

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

A perennial plant with creeping underground stems. From these in summer grow jointed, grooved, sterile stems with whorls of jointed branches. At each joint there is a toothed sheath with black tips on the teeth. Brown jointed fertile stems appear before the sterile stems: they bear terminal cones. Spring up in April and catkins bloom in July, seeds in August, perishes down to the ground in fall.

Some varieties of Equisetum are poisonous. Care should be taken to identify if collecting in the wild. Not a very pretty plant.
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Where Found

Fond in damp places, in fields and meadows, woods, on roadsides; it can be a persistent weed. Throughout North America.
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Medicinal Properties

Diuretic, astringent, hemostatic, alterative, diaphoretic, anti-inflammatory, styptic
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Biochemical Information

Aconitic acid, calcium, copper, equisitine, fatty acids, fluorine, nicotine, PABA, silica, sodium, starch, vitamin B5 and zinc.
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Legends, Myths and Stories

According to one reference, some 200 million years ago the horsetail grass was a family of tree size plants, growing with gigantic clubmosses and ferns in a strange world of steaming bogs, swamps and shallow lakes. The plants in this period of time were huge but short lived. Today it is an insignificant dwarf among flowering vegetation of an entirely different plant world.

In Europe horsetail grass is known as Pewterwort because of its use for polishing pewter utensils, other metals, wood utensils, cabinets, etc.

The Native Americans used horsetail grass to polish their arrow shafts.

Used today in many herbal beauty products for skin, nails, and hair.
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Uses

Used as a diuretic and in the treatment of edema, nephritis, gall stones, and kidney stones. Strengthens hair (good for split ends), nails, bone, teeth, promotes healthy skin, stops bleeding, and increases calcium absorption. Used in the treatment of cystitis, intestinal disorders, rheumatism, arthritis, coughs, broken bones, internal and external ulcers, even gangrenous ulcers, gonorrhea, syphilis, menorrhagia, diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoidal hemorrhage, eyewash for eye inflammation and conjunctivitis, ear infections, swollen glands, dropsy, bedwetting, nosebleeds, heavy menstruation, prostate disorders, tuberculosis, and gout. Promotes healing of broken bones and connective tissue.

Use as a poultice or wash to help stop bleeding and to accelerate healing of wounds and as a gargle.

In the bath, horsetail will soothe pain and, as a lotion, will prompt the rapid healing of sores, old running ulcers, itches and rashes, shingles, helps get rid of white spots from nails, controls excess oil on skin, good conditioner for nails and hair, helps strengthen bones, helps in absorption of calcium. Added to a bowl of boiling water, its vapors will help clear stuffy nose, fever, flu, and chest congestion. An essential oil rubbed nightly on weak, brittle fingernails will improve their condition.

Native Americans used the dried and burned plant (the ashes) on sore mouths.

This rough plant can be used as a pot and pan scrubber.
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Formulas or Dosages

Horsetail can be dried and cut. About 1 1/2 oz. can be boiled in 1 gallon of water for 15-20 minutes. Cool and strain.

Juice: take 10 drops twice a day.
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Nutrient Content

Calcium, vitamin B5 and zinc; iron, potassium and rich in minerals.
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How Sold

Capsules: take 1, up to 3 times daily.
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Warning

Horsetail is toxic if taken in large doses.

Some varieties of Equisetum are poisonous. Care should be taken to identify if collecting in the wild.

Seek professional care if there is blood in the urine or for sudden changes in menstrual flow leading to heavy bleeding.

Horsetail is banned in Canada, except in products where thiaminase-like compounds present in the herb are removed.
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Bibliography

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! Indian Uses of Native Plants, by Edith Van Allen Murphey, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1958, print 1990

Buy It! Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

Buy It! Culpeper’s Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

Buy It!The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements, by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., Avery Publishing Group, Inc., Garden City Park, NY

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! An Instant Guide to Medicinal Plants, by Pamela Forey and Ruth Lindsay, Crescent Books (January 27, 1992).

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! A Useful Guide to Herbal Health Care, HCBL (Health Center for Better Living).,1414 Rosemary Lane, Naples, FL 34103., Special Sale Catalog, 1996

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

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