Horsetail (Equisetum arvense "field" | hyemale "large")
Horsetail is one of the oldest plants as it reproduces from spores rather than seed. The genus has been around for over 100 million years. During Paleozoic times Equisetum trees grew to be over 30 meters tall!
Equisetum is most noticeably revered for its assistance with musculoskeletal issues and strengthening hair & nails. It has an affinity to hips, knees, ankles as well as with the kidneys.
It has a hollow stem, jointed sections, some have branchlets at each joint and can be found near water. As Horsetail filters the water, it also does the same within our bodies and is often used to support urinary tract disturbances. It has a strong diuretic effect.
Horsetail is loaded with silica, which is the same material that makes up a large part of our hair, skin and nails. Silica also helps to rebuild our cartilage as it aids the body in storing more calcium. When harvesting I have learned that it is best done in the early season as the longer it grows, the more dense the silica... and too much of a good thing can have reverse effects. To paint the picture more clearly, silica in its purest form is like sand/glass and too much of that can damage body if taken long term or in heavy doses. When harvesting Equisetum arvense, it is an ideal time while quills are 45 degrees open or less (see photo below).
Horsetail is especially helpful in regards to grinding knees (can take internally and apply topically). Also helpful if one is experiencing tight muscles in neck and shoulders. It works by breaking down webs and strengthening tendons.
Arvense seems to be most popular horsetail used in western herbalism, however one of my teachers prefers hyemale as it breaks down "web" better.
Horsetail Most Notably Supports:
hair, skin, nails
wound up tendons
cystitis in bladder]
bleeding gums/mouth ulcers
compress fractures, wounds, sores, skin problems
Side Effects: The plant contains equisetic acid, which is thought to be identical to aconitic acid. This substance is a heart and nerve sedative that is a poison when taken in abnormally high doses. If pregnant or nursing do not consume herb.
Properties: Anodyne, anti-haemorrhagic, anti-septic, astringent, cardiac, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, galactagogue, hemostatic, nervine, vulnerary.
Suggested Use: Do not take herb for over 1-2 months unless advised by trained herbalist.
Fun Use: Make tea and use as a hair rinse for healthy shiny hair!
If Horsetail is tugging at your heart, feel free to inquire if you would like to set up herbal consultation, purchase a 1oz bottle or if you would like to learn where to find it and how to make your own preparations.
This post is not intended to diagnose or prescribe any treatment. It is intended for educational and inspirational information only. Best practice is to work with a trained herbalist or medical provider before ingesting or harvesting herbs as we want to ensure safety and ethical wildcrafting.
Lise Wolf (Master Herbalist)