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 reproduce 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, 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 Latin word equus (horse) and seta (bristle). Common names for this group of plant are also snake grass, Paddock pipes, Bottlebrush, puzzle grass, and Shave grass. The interesting names for this plant are also 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 that 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.