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Bottle Brush (mu zei)
What is bottle brush?
Also known as horsetail because of its shape, bottle brush
is found throughout the temperate zones of Asia, North America
and Europe. There are two varieties of bottle brush: one grows
in the early spring and resembles asparagus (except for its
brown color); the other grows in the summer and has thin,
branched green stems.
Bottle brush is a rich source of essential nutrients; among
its constituents are silicon, potassium, selenium, aluminum
and manganese, along with 15 types of bioflavonoids. The stems
and leaves are used medicinally.
Why do we need bottle brush? What
is it used for?
Since it was first recommended by the Roman physician Galen,
bottle brush has been used as a folk remedy by several cultures
for a host of conditions, ranging from kidney ailments and
genitourinary infections to arthritis, bleeding ulcers and
tuberculosis. Traditionally, topical applications of bottle
brush were used to clean wounds and promote healing.
It is believed that silicon is a vital ingredient in the
formation of bone and cartilage tissue. As such, bottle brush
has been used by some practitioners to help strengthen bone
and prevent the onset of osteoporosis. The presence of flavonoids
has led some researchers to speculate that it can act as a
diuretic and be used to treat incontinence and bed-wetting.
Anecdotal reports suggest bottle brush may treat brittle nails.
How much bottle brush should I take?
The German Commission E monographs suggest up to six grams
of bottle brush per day for internal use. As a tea, many practitioners
recommend pouring 2-4 tablespoons of the herb in one cup of
water for five minutes, steeping the tea for 15 minutes, then
straining out the herb and drinking the tea two to three times
What forms of bottle brush are available?
Bottle brush is available as a tincture, extract or infusion.
Dried forms of the herb can also be found at specialty markets
or health food stores.
What can happen if I take too much
bottle brush? Are there any interactions I should be aware
of? What precautions should I take?
Bottle brush is generally considered safe; however, patients
should be sure that they are using the correct species. One
species of bottle brush, equisetum palustre, contains
toxic compounds and is a well-known livestock poison.
Bottle brush is also high in selenium, which may cause birth
defects. As such, it should not be used by pregnant women
or people with weak immune systems.
The Canadian Health Protection Branch requires manufacturers
to document that their bottle brush products do not contain
the enzyme thiaminase, found in crude bottle brush, which
destroys the B vitamin thiamin. Since alcohol, high temperatures
and alkalinity neutralize thiaminase, any tinctures, extracts
or preparations subjected to temperatures of 100 degrees Celsius
or higher during manufacturing should be the preferable form
of herb used.
Certain medications may interact with bottle brush. These
medications include loop diuretics, thiazide diuretics, triamterene
and spironolactone. Make sure to consult with a qualified
health care provider before taking bottle brush or any other
herbal remedy or dietary supplement.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Minerals
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, pp. 1501.
- Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and
Drug Interactions, 2nd ed. Sandy, Oregon: Eclectic Medical
Publications, 1998: 85.
- Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal
Herbs. Boca Raton, Fla: CRC Press; 1985:492.
- Fabre B, Geay B, Beaufils P. Thiaminase
activity in equisetum arvense and its extracts. Plant
Med Phytother 1993;26:1907.
- Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg,
Sweden: AB Arcanum, 1998:238239.