Horsetail: Evidence Based Benefits and Side Effects

What is horsetail?

Horsetail is a beneficial herb with exceptional nutritional qualities. Some of its species like Equisetum arvense and Equisetum myriochaetum have strong therapeutic properties. The medicinal uses of the herb were recognized by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and now modern clinical studies are recommending it for common health ailments.

It is also known as shavegrass, common horsetail, and field horsetail.

Horsetail
Horsetail

Possible health benefits: What is horsetail good for

High blood pressure

The diuretic effect of horsetail increases the production of urine by removing unnecessary amounts of sodium and water from the kidneys. As excessive salts are flushed out of the body, it helps to keep the blood pressure under control.

A series of clinical trials showed that its dried extract exhibited diuretic activity in some male patients.

Horsetail extracts for diabetes

Diabetic patients can be treated using the stem, flower, or leaf of horsetail. A study found that patients with type 2 diabetes had reduced blood glucose levels after administration of the extracts.

Urinary tract stones

High concentrations of minerals and salts in urine are responsible for the formation of stones in the kidney and ureter. Some studies have shown that decoction of the herb improves urine flow by dissolving stones blocking the urinary tract.

Horsetail Pictures
Horsetail Pictures

Enlarged prostate gland

Frequent urination, dribbling of urine and weak urine flow are some of the symptoms of a swollen prostate.

According to some animal studies, horsetail is an excellent source of antioxidants that reduce inflammation of the prostate gland.

Edema

Abnormal accumulation of fluid in the arms, legs, and feet can cause painful swelling. In a laboratory study, tincture prepared from dried horsetail stems alleviated edema.

Cancer

Horsetail has a high concentration of phytochemicals and antioxidants that curb the growth of cancer cells. Its anti-cancer properties were revealed in a study done on human tumor cells.

Horsetail Images
Horsetail Images

High silica content for bone health

It takes several weeks for a broken bone to heal completely even after a surgery. Horsetail contains silica that helps to heal fractures by increasing the bone density.

Powder obtained from its dried leaves is often mixed with water for consumption. According to a clinical study, it can regenerate bone tissues.

Cognitive impairment

A considerable decline in cognitive abilities such as memory, thinking, and learning could be a possible sign of age-related cognitive impairment. It has been shown in a study that the herb exhibits cognitive enhancement activity.

Positive effects on the skin

In a study, the moisturizing effects of horsetail on the skin have been associated with its high flavonoid content. However, its use in the treatment of common skin ailments has not been determined.

Hair growth

Horsetail oil is often used to prevent hair loss. People with dry, itchy scalp can use the cooled tea as a hair rinse by mixing it with a baby shampoo. Although it is believed that vitamins in the extract help in hair growth, no clinical study has been carried out to support these benefits.

Horsetail tea for rheumatoid arthritis

Inflammation in the joints can be reduced with the intake of tea brewed from the root or leaf of horsetail. Results obtained from a human controlled trial revealed its anti-inflammatory effect.

Brittle nails

Nutritional deficiency can often cause the nails to become fragile and break easily. As horsetail tea is rich in minerals, drinking it on a regular basis might help in strengthening brittle nails. In a clinical trial, it showed significant improvement in individuals with fragile nails.

Its combination with nettle tea could be more effective on the affected nails.

Horsetail Photos
Horsetail Photos
Horsetail Plant
Horsetail Plant

Safety and Precautions

Side effects– Horsetail does not usually cause any adverse effects. However, nausea, allergy, and constipation could be linked to overuse of the herb as well as the tea.

Use during pregnancy– It should be avoided by pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.

References:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/843.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equisetum

http://www.drugs.com/npp/horsetail.html

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/horsetail

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-horsetail.html

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/272428/horsetail