A Rich Source of Silica
Horsetail (equisetum arvense): has many uses as an herb with many benefits to the human family. As a forager, I was happy to find a batch of it this summer. An ancient plant, horsetail has been around since 100 million years before the dinosaurs appeared. It’s a survivor, and drastic measures are needed to get rid of it if it invades your fields or garden. If you search for information on horsetail on google, you’ll find lots of garden/cooperative articles on getting rid of it. You have to look harder to find information on its benefits.
Horsetail contains numerous mineral salts, especially silica, but also potassium, manganese, and magnesium, and many trace minerals.
Horsetail is judged to be particularly beneficial to people suffering from anemia or general debility. Its action is characterized as diuretic and astringent. It is prescribed in the treatment of kidney and bladder disorders, arthritis, gout, and skin afflictions. It is recommended for gastric complaints and inflammations of the respiratory tract. It is said to promote urination and stop bleeding, to reduce fevers, to calm an overactive liver, and to ease nervous tension. It has been used to clear heavy head colds and to sooth inflamed, swollen eyelids. And throughout history, it is been relied on to cleanse and heal wounds . . . . even modern studies indicate that fractured bones heal more quickly with the help of horsetail.
As a diuretic, it will increase urination, thus flushing the system of toxins. Its astringent property would make it good for wounds and to stop bleeding. It can be used both internally, as a weak tea, and externally, as a wash for wounds, or dip a towel in the tea and use as a poultice, a compress, or add to bath water.
No other herb in the entire plant kingdom is so rich in silicon as is horsetail. This trace element really helps to find protein molecules together in the blood vessels and connective tissues. Silison is the material of which collagen is made. Collagen is the “body glue” that holds our skin and muscle tissues together. Silicon also promotes the growth and stability of the skeletal structure.
A few European clinical studies have determined that fractured bones heal much more quickly when horsetail is taken. The incidence of osteoporosis is, likewise, more greatly reduced when some horsetail is added to the diet. A few folk healers I’m aware of have recommended this herb to athletes who’ve suffered sprains, dislocated joints, pulled hamstrings or torn ligaments.
Heinerman goes on to say that horsetail is an excellent internal cosmetic–drink the tea for improving your skin, hair, nails, teeth and bones. Other herbalists recommend it as a facial wash.
Edible parts of Field Horsetail:
Harvesting: Pick it in a clean area. Best time to harvest is midsummer when plants are large but still somewhat succulent. Contrary to modern herbal pseudo-factoid, the plant is safe to use internally when picked midsummer. Picking when plant is large lets us get more medicine while disturbing fewer plants than if picking when the plants are small and young. It is considerate of the plant and habitat to pick this way.
Makes an excellent healing tea and cooked horsetail can be added to soups, stews or cooked in a stir-fry.
Be creative and enjoy!
Strobil (the fertile shoots in spring) – cooked and used as an asparagus substitute. They should be used when young but even so it is probably best to change the water, perhaps 3 – 4 times, when cooking save the water to use as a spray on your roses if they have black spots, or as a liquid feed for your garden. The leaf sheaths can be peeled off and the stems eaten raw – they are said to be “nothing but juice”. Roots – Raw. The tuberous growths on the rhizomes are used in the spring. The black nodules attached to the roots are edible. It takes considerable effort to collect these nodules so it is normally only done in times of desperation.
Other uses of the herb:
The stems contain 10% silica and are used for scouring metal and as fine sandpaper. They can also be used as a polish for brass, hardwood etc. The infused stem is an effective fungicide against mildew, mint rust and blackspot on roses.
To Make Tea:
Pour eight ounces of boiling water over 4 level tsp. of dried horsetail or fresh. Cover and steep for 3 minutes.” A delicate person should drink no more than 1-1/2 cups a day, after meals, in divided doses.
I will be making this one for Rick as he has had a badly torn Rotator Cuff for a while now and has been taking a silica supplement and it helps him, but hey if I can harvest the horsetail from our own yard that is even better 🙂
1 part young fresh Horsetail shoots (chopped) to 3 parts warm raw honey (100-110). Keep at this temperature for several days, strain, and take 1 Tablespoon 2x/day.
A horsetail bath: For this, use 7 ounces of dried horsetail or 6 quarts of fresh horsetail. Soak the horsetail overnight in enough cold water to cover the plants. “In the morning, heat and strain off the liquid. Enjoy a 20-minute soak.” For athletes foot soak in a foot bath for 20 mins.
“A decoction is used to extract primarily the mineral salts and bitter principles of plants from hard materials such as roots, bark, seeds and wood. These hard materials generally require boiling for at least 10 minutes and then are allowed to steep for a number of hours. The tea is boiled down and concentrated so that water needs to be added before drinking. The word “decoct” means to concentrate by boiling. Essiac tea and taheebo bark tea are examples of a decoction.”
How to make horsetail:
skin and nails cocktail:
* You will need: horsetail, lemon juice, water and stevia.
* Throw the whole stalks into a blender with water, blend really well.
* Pour through a sieve to get rid of the hard fibres.
* Add lemon juice and stevia to taste.
* Drink up!
The taste of the raw horsetail cocktail is rather grassy, but not bitter. Actually most of the flavor comes from the stevia and lemon juice, and on the whole is quite refreshing.
Horsetail is also used to strengthen your finger and toenails. Use a strong infusion made by simmering the tea for at least 15 mins and letting it steep for at least 30 mins. Then use a paintbrush to paint your nails 3 times and let it absorb. Do this at least 3 times over the day before your manicure.
Creating a Tincture:
Once harvested, the vegetative stalks of horsetail can be dried and used to make a tea, but it is preferable to make a tincture from the fresh herb as it loses much of its potency when dried. Within one to two hours of harvesting, chop the herb very fine and fill some bottles to the top. Then fill them up with a mixture of 30-40% alcohol with water. This will make approximately a 1:5 fresh horsetail tincture. The bottles should be stored in the dark and shaken once or twice per day for about a month. Then they can be left to sit for at least another two months. This three month period is the minimum amount of time to produce a good quality tincture. However, as long as the bottles are well sealed and stored in the dark they will keep almost indefinitely.
When you are ready to use it, shake the bottles a few times a day for a couple of days then press and filter their contents and you have a fresh horsetail tincture. Once the tincture is pressed it begins to degrade and should be used within six months to a year. You can extend the shelf life by storing it in several smaller bottles filled to the top and only using one bottle at a time until finished.
The dosage is three to five milliliters, three to four times per day for chronic conditions, six to eight times per day for acute conditions. Always take it on an empty stomach. The best time is 10-15 min. before meals and 30-60 min. before bed.
Also horsetail’s silica/silicone is turned into natural calcium by the body when taken internally. Taken as a tea this is much better than calcium pills. The body accepts live and natural cells much more readily than artificial. That’s why the fresher the herb or plant or vegetable the better for the body and your health.
Horsetail tea can be used on other plants, spraying them with it to get rid of mildew and other fungus infections on roses, fruit trees, vegetables, etc.
If you’re camping, or in a survival situation, you can also scrub your pots and pans with horsetail plants–among horsetail’s common names are bottlebrush, scouring rush, shavegrass and pewterwort.
You must experience the Earth and its plants with your heart, not just your mind.
Disclaimer: Although herbs have been used medicinally since the beginning of time, please seek the advice of your doctor, naturopath or osteopath before using any herbal products. Do not use Horsetail if you are pregnant and are breastfeeding, have heart or kidney disorders. It is advisable to consult your doctor/herbalist before consumption of Horsetail.