Imagine going back in time to 400 million years ago, over 100 million years before dinosaurs roamed the earth. You might find yourself amid a stand of 300-foot-tall trees growing out of a primordial swamp. Resting in these gigantic trees, you’d see enormous dragonflies with a two-foot wingspan eating fresh shoots from the trees. These trees would be the ancestors of the plant we know today as horsetail.
It’s hard to imagine that plants could withstand the Ice Age, but horsetail did, which is a testament to its strength and resilience. While today’s versions of the plants are much shorter, they are arguably just as powerful. Here are some of the herb’s many benefits:
1. Nail, Teeth and Hair Builder
Silica is essential to building strong nails, hair and teeth. Because horsetail is such a high source of this mineral, replenishing your silica levels by using horsetail may bring an improvement in any of these symptoms, although it can take up to two months of regular use to see results.
2. Osteoporosis Preventer
Researchers studied the effectiveness of horsetail in building bone and preventing infections that can be linked to fractures and osteoporosis. Published in the journal Cell Proliferation, the study showed that horsetail improved the bone-building of osteoblasts—cells that make bone by laying down a matrix to which mineral bind to form bone—while reducing the likelihood of infection. The scientists concluded that using horsetail extract may be a good bone-regeneration strategy. Another study published in the same journal a few months later showed that horsetail inhibited the action of cells that break down bone, a process that contributes to conditions like osteoporosis.
3. Anticancer Aid
Multiple studies suggest that horsetail may be helpful in treating cancer. In a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, scientists found that horsetail not only exhibited strong antioxidant properties but also showed the ability to halt the proliferation of cancer cells. A study published in the Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine found that a combination of horsetail, greater celandine, elecampane and the mushroom chaga, had the most potent anti-tumor effect of those substances tested on breast cancer. Still another study found that the same blend of herbs and mushroom had reduced the growth of lymphoma and leukemia tumors and increased survival rates by 33 percent in animals tested.
4. Wound Healer
Scientists assessed horsetail’s reputation as a traditional wound healer by applying an ointment made with horsetail extract to diabetic wounds in animals. They found that the horsetail ointment exhibited significant wound-healing ability.
5. Demonstrates Antibacterial Action
Horsetail shows antibacterial action against the superbug S. aureus, which is no longer responding well to many drug-based antibiotics.
If you are able to obtain fresh horsetail (make sure you are working with an experienced herbal guide), you can hang it upside down to dry or lay it in a thin layer on baking sheets and allow it to air-dry for a couple of days. Then use the dried plant to make tea. Use one teaspoon of dried herb per cup of boiled water. Pour the water over the herb and let steep for about ten minutes. Strain. Drink 3 cups daily.
Follow package instructions for the alcohol extract you choose. A typical dose is 30 drops three times daily.
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news World’s Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include the upcoming book: : Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty & Cooking.