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Nutritional Supplement

Horsetail

Parts Used & Where Grown

Horsetail is widely distributed throughout the temperate climate zones of the Northern Hemisphere, including Asia, North America, and Europe.1 Horsetail is a unique plant with two distinctive types of stems. One variety of stem grows early in spring and looks like asparagus, except for its brown color and spore-containing cones on top. The mature form of the herb, appearing in summer, has branched, thin, green, sterile stems and looks like a feathery tail.

How It Works

Horsetail is rich in silicic acid and silicates, which provide approximately 2–3% elemental silicon. Potassium, aluminum, and manganese, along with fifteen different types of flavonoids, are also found in this herb. The presence of these flavonoids, as well as saponins, is believed to cause the diuretic effect, while the silicon content is thought to exert a connective tissue-strengthening and anti-arthritic action.2 Some experts have suggested the element silicon in horsetail is also a vital component for bone and cartilage formation.3 Anecdotal reports suggest that horsetail may be of some use in the treatment of brittle nails.4

References

1. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2nd ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 306-8.

2. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum, 1988, 238-9.

3. Seaborn CD, Nielsen FH. Silicon: a nutritional beneficence for bones, brains and blood vessels? Nutr Today 1993;28:13-8.

4. Hamon NW, Awang DVC. Horsetail. Canadian Pharm J 1992;September:399-401.

5. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, Texas: American Botanical Council, 1998, 115-6.

6. Weiss R. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd, 1988, 342.

7. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, Texas: American Botanical Council, 1998, 231.

8. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 221.

9. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, Texas: American Botanical Council, 1998, 150-1.

10. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, Texas: American Botanical Council, 1998, 115-6.

11. Weiss R. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd, 1988, 342.

12. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, Texas: American Botanical Council, 1998, 231.

13. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 221.

14. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, Texas: American Botanical Council, 1998, 150-1.

15. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 428.

16. Tyler V. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 76-7 [review].

17. Hamon NW, Awang DVC. Horsetail. Canadian Pharm J 1992;September:399-401.

18. Castleman M. The Healing Herbs. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1991, 219-21.

19. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 150-1.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.