What if a common, so-called “weed” could improve Alzheimer’s, prevent cancer, strengthen bones and fingernails, and even double the number of hairs on your head?
We’ve talked about dandelion, plantain, and purslane before on REALfarmacy.com, but many readers likely haven’t heard of the medicinal benefits of horsetail herb (Equisetum arvense). That’s right, it’s another powerful healing herb, not a “weed” that we have been encouraged to spray with poison like Roundup.
Horsetail is a perennial. It grows in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Throughout history knights were said to shine their armor with horsetail herb. Native Americans also used it in their woodworking to create a silky finish. In fact, there are still many woodworkers today that continue to use it.
So what about this plant makes it so unique that it can be used for such tasks and can these benefits be applied to the human body? They absolutely can!
8 Solid Reasons Why You Should Never Kill Horsetail
1.Good Source of Silica To Boost Health and Beauty
Silica helps the body produce collagen which is a major building block in your joints, skin, hair, and nails. We’ve previously discussed the benefits of silica in great detail. Find that information here.
Looking for more volume in your hair? Horsetail herb is for you! This study found that women with thinning hair could literally double their hair growth and thickness.
Here is another study that determined horsetail can strengthen nails and prevent splitting, breaking, and cracking.
Suffice to say, horsetail has remarkable anti-aging and skin-toning properties.
- Wound and Burn Healing
Traditionally horsetail has been known to help stop bleeding, treat ulcers, wounds, and general inflammations on the skin.
This study suggested that 3% horsetail ointment promoted wound healing and relieved pain in women who were healing from episiotomy. Not only did the herb heal wounds faster but naturally occurring flavonoids helped prevent infection.
- Helps Prevent and Reverse Alzheimer’s
Horsetail can pull heavy metals from our bodies and the soil. Perhaps the high silica content of horsetail plays a major role in this.
Indeed silica can benefit aesthetic aspects of our health and beauty, but most importantly it can help get aluminum out of your brain which we believe is a major contributing factor to Alzheimer’s disease.
Silica in the form of silicic acid (which is basically oxygenated silica) becomes very bioavailable in the gut. It can then reach the blood, and furthermore head into the brain where it binds with aluminum molecules, finally leading them out of brain cell tissue safely through the urine.
Studies have found drinking water that contains silica removes aluminum from the brain and body.
- Anti-Inflammatory for Joints, Skin, and More
Kynurenic acid is found in horsetail which has anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving benefits. Those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis find relief from herbs such as horsetail that contain kynurenic acid.
It can also be used to rid of redness and irritation from eczema, acne, and other skin ailments.
- Treats Insomnia and Helps Relax the Body
Horsetail contains the flavonoid isoquercetin. Isoquercetin acts as a mild sedative so it can help people who have trouble relaxing and falling asleep. Calcium and magnesium are also abundant in horsetail herb which can help calm the body and mind. Thus horsetail can also help relieve irritability, depression, and hyperactivity.
- Builds Strong Bones
The plant’s actions in healing bones and strengthening connective tissue are thought to be due to silicic acid. Follow this link to read more about why silicic acid is incredibly important for bones and joints, yet commonly unknown or underrated by allopathic physicians.
In fact, studies have revealed that silica acts as a catalyst for bone-building cells. Essentially it is collagen that provides the framework for your bones, while magnesium, calcium, and other minerals fill in the structure of the bones. Furthermore this study from Italy found horsetail significantly improved bone density.
- Fights Cancer Cells
Studies show that horsetail can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Authors note in this study that,
“The results obtained suggest that the horsetail extracts could be used as an easily accessible source of natural antioxidants and as potential phytochemicals.”
Another study found an increase in survival rates of 33 percent using a blend of horsetail and chaga on lymphoma and leukemia tumors in mice. Read more about chaga here.
- Fights UTIs, Promotes Kidney and Bladder Health
Horsetail is also used to improve kidney and bladder health. For example, it can help increase resistance to urinary tract infections.
How to Use Horsetail Herb
Making a tea using horsetail is an effective way to reap the benefits and you might be surprised that it’s not just for drinking! That’s right, you can use it topically on skin and as a hair rinse too.
To make the tea, lightly boil approximately one half cup of dried horsetail (like this) in 2 cups of pure hot water for about 10 minutes. Let this concoction steep for an additional 1 to 6 hours. If you’re not set up for loose leaf a device like this will come in very handy.
As previously mentioned, this tea can be used to stimulate hair growth when used as a hair rinse. Simply pour the tea through your hair over a bowl to catch the runoff and then repeat the process. Your hair will be silky, shiny, and smooth!
It can also be used as an effective skin tonic. To use on the skin soak a paper face mask in the tea and wear it on the troubled area for up to 30 minutes.
If a sore throat is what ails you simply mix some quality sea salt into the tea and gargle with the mixture.
This same mixture can also be used to fight gingivitis. Simply gargle and swish with the tea several times daily.
If making tea sounds too complicated for you, capsules like these, and extract like this are also available.
Foraging Horsetail Yourself
Horsetail species tend to grow between one and five feet tall.
Horsetail tends to grow in marshy areas because it loves moisture but it can also be found in fields, forests, and you might even find it in the cracks of sidewalks.
The initial shoots can be picked and eaten raw when they are very young, but as horsetail continues to grow it becomes rather tough. This is the stage that horsetail is most commonly used for medicinal purposes and should not be consumed raw.
Horsetail should be harvested when the leaves are bright vibrant green and are turned upward. The longer you wait in the season to harvest, the more potency the horsetail herb will lose. When the leaves begin to droop the medicinal benefits have degraded. It is best to harvest horestail in early to late spring once sufficient growth has developed.
To dry the herb either use a food dehydrator on the low setting or hang upside down in small bundles in a room with good airflow and darkness. Use a fan, not directly blowing on the herb. 60F degrees and 60% humidity is a good target environment for slow drying. Any more humid and you risk mold development. Dried horsetail will keep for a year.