A prehistoric botanical relic, horsetail is relative of trees that grew on earth 270 million years ago and are the source of out modern coal seams.

Horsetail’s brittle jointed stems are rich in healing Silica, and since Ancient Greek times has been used for wound healing.

The Horsetail species grow in damp soils and sand alongside swamps and bodies of water.  Its affinity for sandy conditions near water indicates it as a kidney herb (i.e. like urinary gravel).

Known as the “vegetable silica”.  A remedy for the kidney sphere; loss of nerve; nervousness to the point of the fingernail chewing, hair-pulling, picking at the body or objects; a slightly chilly constitution; issues with sheaths and hard tissues of the body, as it appears to strengthen the connective tissue, bones, cartilage, mucous membranes, arteries, skin and many other tissues.

Has been referred to as the “herbal scalpel” for its use as an old remedy for boils and abscesses.

Botanical name: Equisetum arvense

Common Name: Horsetail

Family: Equistaceae

Part Used: Aerial parts

Active Constituents:

  • Silicic acid (5-8%)-silica – balanced by other minerals.
  • Potassium and manganese salts (1.5%)
  • Flavonoids
  • Equisetolic acid
  • Saponins
  • Traces of alkaloid

Qualities: Cold, Pungent (Holmes); dry and slightly bitter (Ody)



“Old before their time”. Posture slumps, energy flags, bent and stooped. 

Thinning hair, brittle nails, bending nails, early dental caries.  Picks at spots and scabs and bites nails.  There may be signs of “weakness” and slow healing, also impatience – i.e. may not take the TIME needed to heal. 

There may be SOLIDIFICATION of tissues – e.g. calcium metabolism issues, kidney stones, osteoarthritis or osteoporosis.

May tire after talking a lot.  This can cause them to become weak and more accident prone. THEY ARE RAPID THINKERS.

Occasionally, the personality of those requiring Horsetail will be suffering a weakness or confidence.  These people may not have the confidence to take the plunge or leap into life, but instead hold back.  They may be nail chewers or hair-pullers or could fiddle with other objects nervously.

Physically, these people may have frizzy, weak hair and peeling nails that are slow to grow of develop hangnails.  They may have weak mucous membranes that are easily irritated (i.e. allergies and sinusitis).  Matthew Wood says that Horsetail is especially good for cases of “nonspecific hay fever”, when the person is allergic to all sorts of things, rather than one or a few.

“So wonderful is its nature, its mere touch staunches a patient’s bleeding” – Pliny, AD 77


  • Diuretic
  • Astringent
  • Styptic (hemostatic)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Tissue healer and strengthener
  • Tonic – for hair, nails, and can harden bones and teeth (Hall)
  • Nerve resilience 


  • Cystitis and other inflammation of the urinary tract – Horsetail can be useful in nonspecific chronic bladder infections where the condition results from connective tissue weakness in the bladder that is causing irritation and inflammation, rather than an infection with bacteria.
  • Cystitis with hematuria
  • Prostatitis
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Renal gravel
  • Nocturnal enuresis
  • Ulceration of the urinary tract
  • External application for poorly healing wounds conditions
  • Rhematic conditionsTISSUE STRENGTHENER: Can be used, in combination with other herbs, to help strengthen bone, cartilage, and muscles.  It can also help to strengthen arteries and veins.  Looking at the condition of visible tissues (hair, skin, and nails) will help to determine whether Horsetail may benefit patient’s internal structures.

Specific Indication: 

  • Inflammation or benign enlargement of the prostate gland
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Enuresis in children


2-6ml of 1:2 LE/day  or 15-40mls of 1:2 LE/week

Combinations: Combines well with Saw Palmetto for prostatic enlargement

Combine with Solomon’s seal for joint and connective tissue repair

Cautions and Interactions: None known

Contraindications: None known

  • DECOCTION: Use for heavy periods and skin conditions, such as acne and eczema (Ody) – simmer at least 3 hours to extract main constituents.

References & Links to Articles:

Ody, Penelope (1998). The Herb Society’s Complete Medicinal Herbal. Milan: Dorling Kindersley

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