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What is horsetail? What is it used
Horsetail is a rather unique-looking herb found in the temperate
climate zones of Asia, North American and Europe. It contains
two distinct types of stems. One variety of stem grows early
in the spring and looks like an asparagus stalk, except that
it is brown and has a cone that contains spores. The mature
form of the herb, which appears in the summer, has thin, green,
sterile stems that look like a tail, helping to give the plant
Horsetail contains large amounts of silicic acid and silicates,
which provide the body with silicon. It also contains copious
amounts of potassium, aluminum and manganese, along with 15
different bioflavonoids. The bioflavanoids are believed to
act as a diuretic, while the high silicon content is purported
to strengthen connective tissue and fight arthritis. Anecdotal
reports suggest horsetail can strengthen brittle nails; other
studies hint that it may be used topically to stop the bleeding
of wounds and facilitate healing.
How much horsetail should I take?
The German Commission E monographs recommend up to six grams
of horsetail daily for internal use, divided into two or three
doses. A tincture can also be taken (2-6ml TID).
What forms of horsetail are available?
Horsetail is available as a tincture or fluid extract. Fresh
and dried preparations are also available.
What can happen if I take too much
horsetail? Are there any interactions I should be aware of?
What precautions should I take?
Horsetail is generally considered safe, as long as the correct
species (equisetum arvense) is used. There is another species
of horsetail (equisetum palustre) which contains toxic alkaloids
and has been known to poison cattle.
Several types of drugs may interact with horsetail, including
loop diuretics, spironolactone, thiazide diuretics and triamterene.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Nutrition
- Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et
al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic
Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative
Medicine Communications, 1998, 1501.
- Castleman M. The Healing Herbs.
Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1991, 21921.
- Fabre B, Geay B, Beaufils P. Thiaminase
activity in equisetum arvense and its extracts.
Plant Med Phytother 1993;26:1907.
- Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of
Common Natural Ingredients Used in Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics,
2nd ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 3068.
- Seaborn CD, Nielsen FH. Silicon: a nutritional
beneficence for bones, brains and blood vessels? Nutr