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A descendant of ancient trees, horsetail is a natural skin cleanser and infection fighter used in many cultures and civilizations.
History of Horsetail
If you have never heard about this plant before, after these facts you will certainly remember it.
Horsetail is a plant that belongs to the Equisetaceae family, the only survivor of the family that reproduces with spores. This family was once very different and diversified, for instance, the plants looked like trees and could reach up to 30 meters tall.
Moreover, a genus of this family was dominating the forest three hundred million years ago during the carboniferous period. Finally, the members of this family gave rise to our coal deposits.
The entire group of the plant was named horsetail due to its resemblance to a horse’s tail. The scientific name is Equisetum, from the Latin word equus (horse) and seta (bristle). Common names for this group of the plant are also snake grass, Paddock pipes, Bottlebrush, puzzle grass, and Shave grass. The interesting names for this plant are also the Scouring rush due to its usage for scouring metal pots and Pewterwort because it was used for polishing pewter and wood.
This plant gain popularity when Roman physician Galen recommended it for medical usage emphasizing the health benefits one can have in the treatment of skin disorders.
Since that time, many cultures used horsetail as a folk remedy to treat skin infections, bleeding ulcers, arthritis and kidney stones.
People in China used horsetail for eye inflammations, flu, fevers and swellings. Horsetail was very popular for its green color when dyeing different materials. Indians used horsetail to polish wooden tools. In Japan, horsetail was present in shampoos and cosmetics.
You can find horsetail everywhere apart from Antarctica. It is interesting, however, that in New Zeeland all of the Equisetum plants are “unwanted organisms”. This thin perennial herb grows wild all over the planet, though it prefers wet sandy soils. The stems of the plant are green and photosynthetic which looks like a tail of a horse or bird.
Horsetail has no flowers, the leaves are usually non-photosynthetic and grow in whorls. The plant can reach up to 1.5 meters, but some plants known as giant horsetail can grow up to 2.5 meters.
Characteristics of Horsetail
Most of the people are familiar with horsetail‘s diuretic properties, but horsetail is also an astringent, anti-septic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and diaphoretic.
It is crucial for the minerals and other nutrients it posses. The dominant minerals are manganese, magnesium, potassium, iron, and calcium.
It also contains fatty acids, aconitic acid, glycosides, alkaloids, tannins, saponins and silica.
Health benefits and usage
Ancient Greek and Roman herbalists confirmed the health benefits of this plant and some of the treatments they suggested are still very popular. The people in Ancient Rome used to cook and eat horsetail regularly. Some Indian tribes used to eat this plant raw.
Today, horsetail is taken as a remedy in the form of powder, ointment, paste, or as tea.
The first known usage of horsetail as a remedy for skin problems was in the treatment of open wounds.
Studies show that antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of horsetail are beneficial for treating rashes, burns, skin lesions and wounds in general.
Due to its significant percentage of silica, that is responsible for creating collagen, horsetail has a high position as an herbal remedy for skin disorders. In other words, collagen is responsible for developing and maintaining connective tissue. Therefore, it is no surprise that many cosmetic anti-aging products contain horsetail.
Horsetail has been used throughout history in the form of a tea to treat the bacteria and sebum that produce acne blemishes.
Today, horsetail is present in many topical ointments and crème, but you can also boil it and use it as a daily skin remover.
Dried horsetail in combination with some thickening agents such as honey or clay is a powerful cleanser.
Once mixed with these agents and water, a healing face mask is ready to use.
Different researches show that horsetail extract can lower the level of blood glucose. This is especially recommended for patients diagnosed with type II Diabetes.
Respiratory Tract Infections
Horsetail tea is effective for treating bronchitis, nasal congestion, dry cough, fever, cold and flu.
You do not even have to drink the tea; just by inhaling vapors from boiling tea, it can help you relieve nasal congestion.
Herbalists in China used horsetail to treat various foot conditions such as frostbite, Athlete’s Foot, cracked feet, and chilblains.
To make a remedy for foot treatment all you need is dried horsetail and water. Mix 10 teaspoons of horsetail extract powder and 4 cups of water and you will have a foot soak.
Soak your feet every other day for 15 minutes and moisturize them with coconut or lavender oil.
Even the ancient Greeks knew how beneficial horsetail was for treating kidney problems.
Researches show that horsetail is very powerful for uric acid kidney stones. Due to its diuretic activity, horsetail can be taken as a tea two to three times a day to increase urine production and flush out kidney stones.
Silica in horsetail is very helpful for memory loss problems and cognitive functions. Due to its connective characteristics silica helps connect nerve cells and spinal cord. Moreover, nicotine in horsetail can stimulate the nervous system.
To improve your memory, you can take one capsule of horsetail a day. Horsetail tea is another possible solution.
Due to the significant amount of minerals and protein, horsetail is a natural immunity booster.
For improving your immunity, make horsetail powder and take half of the teaspoon every morning before breakfast.
The silica in horsetail can help in treating osteoporosis. Silica absorbs and uses calcium and enhances bone flexibility. It can heal fractured bones, dislocated joints and pulled hamstrings by raising the bone density.
Nowadays, horsetail tea is used to treat anemia, rheumatic conditions, and dandruff.
Possible side effects from the topical application of horsetail may produce a rash and mild skin irritation.
When used over a long period, especially when much alcohol is consumed, it may result in muscle weakness and nausea.
Image credit: DepositPhotos.com
Last article update: 9/30/2019