Common horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is plant native to various temperate and arctic regions of the northern hemisphere, including Asia, Europe, North America, and North Africa. Its name is derived from the Latin roots equus (“horse”) and seta (“bristle”). Though there are over 20 species of horsetail, common horsetail is most frequently featured in alternative medicines.
Horsetail contains notable quantities of silicon and other trace minerals, including manganese, aluminum, and manganese. It also contains various natural compounds which are believed to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, including alkaloids, tannins, phenolic acids, phytosterols, and bioflavonoids. Traditionally, horsetail has been used to treating kidney problems, urinary incontinence, wounds, bleeding, and related ailments. Thanks to modern technology, horsetail extract supplements and preparations are readily available.
Today, many of horsetail’s uses are in accordance with tradition; people still use it to treat kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and other urinary and kidney disturbances. Horsetail is also taken orally for balding, brittle nails, bronchitis, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, hepatitis, and tuberculosis. Horsetail preparations are also used as topical treatments for acne, rashes, eczema, or eye inflammation. Because of its high silicon content, horsetail has been suggested as a possible alternative treatment for osteoporosis.
But there is a lack of well-designed studies involving this use, so more research is needed before this mode of treatment can be considered effective. Consumers ought to make sure that horsetail they intend to ingest has been rigorously processed and is safe for consumption. As heavy reliance on horsetail can be dangerous and may cause kidney problems or thiamine deficiency, prospective horsetail users are exhorted to abstain from haphazard self-diagnosis and consult with a certified medical practitioner before routinely using any horsetail extract supplement or preparation.