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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wild Harvesting - Horsetail

Horsetail (equisetum arvense, scouring rush, shavegrass)

Okay ignore the dandelions that are in the middle of the nice horsetail stand I found in this photo :) - you get the idea.... Most people use horsetail as a tea (how to at the end of this posting also a shampoo recipe...)

Horsetail contains high concentrations of silicic acid and other silicates. Horsetail also contains potassium, aluminum, and manganese, along with variety of flavonoids. These flavonoids, as well as other substances found in horsetail, are what appear to provide this herb with strong diuretic effects that promote the loss of water from the body. A few herbal specialists believe that the organic silicon concentrations found in horsetail may also promote bone and cartilage formation and are useful for treating brittle nails and related conditions.

Interesting point...

Because horsetail can absorb minerals better than most other plants, it is used by agronomists to check for mercury and other pollutants in the soil. One of the benefits of horsetail is its ability to detoxify heavy metals from the body. The minerals from horsetail act as a kind of chelator, passing the waste out through the kidneys. Horsetail can restore vitality to the kidneys by helping relieve these most precious organs of acid buildup.

Suggested Uses
Taken internally, horsetail is may be useful in connection with the following conditions and symptoms:
  • Inflammation or mild infections of the genitourinary tract
  • Kidney stones
  • Urinary Tract Infection
Horsetail also can be applied externally to treat the following:
  • Wounds (especially poorly healing ones)
  • Burns
  • Rheumatic conditions
  • Fractures
  • Sprains
  • Horsetail remedies prepared from Equisetum arvense are generally considered safe. Another species of horsetail, however, called Equisetum palustre is poisonous to horses.
  • Prolonged use of even the safe form of horsetail (E. arvense) is also not advised only take for two weeks at a time internally (can be hard on your kidneys).
  • Taking horsetail by mouth may cause levels of vitamin B1 (thiamin) in the body to drop. If you take horsetail on a regular basis, you should also take a quality multivitamin or at least a B complex supplement daily.
  • People with heart or kidney disorders, diabetes, or gout should not use horsetail.
  • Do not drink alcohol regularly while taking horsetail, because horsetail may cause levels of thiamin to drop.
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take horsetail.
  • Nicotine patches or gum -- Horsetail contains some nicotine, and should not be used if you are also using nicotine replacement patches or chewing gum.
  • Digoxin (Lanoxin) -- Horsetail may cause low levels of potassium (hypokalemia) in the body. People with heart arrhythmias and those taking digoxin should not use horsetail.
  • Diuretics (water pills) -- Horsetail may have weak diuretic properties, meaning it helps rid the body of excess fluid. People who take diuretics should not take horsetail due to the risk of dehydration or low potassium (hypokalemia).
A few more points
  • Horsetail has a variety of anti-fungal uses. As a garden spray, a small handful of dried herb simmered in a quart of water for 10 minutes will eliminate molds. Biodynamic farmers provide their animals with horsetail tea when they get hoof rot. They make it by the barrel and splay it on their fields with a whiskbroom.
  • some people believe Brandy not Vodka works best to make a horsetail tonic with.
  • Horsetail tincture is effective against sweaty feet. Just massage the clean feet with horsetail every night. It is also a good treatment for athlete's foot. Just boil the plant in water and when cold enough soak your feet for 20 minutes.
  • Horsetail has not been commonly used in modern American mainstream herbal medicine for asthma. Tea and juice are used for asthma in German herbal medicine. The tea is used as a remedy for pediatric asthma in Japan.
To make tea:
Pour eight ounces of boiling water over 4 level tsp. of dried herb 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. Sometimes a horsetail bath helps. For this, use 7 ounces of dried herbs or 6 quarts of fresh herb. 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.

Fresh Juice:
Difficult unless you have a good quality juicer or blend with a little water in a vitamix. Juicing horsetail shortens their life. . Preserve each four parts of horsetail juice with one part of 95% grain alcohol. Dose: 1-3 tablespoons, practically, take a large mouth full.
** Unlike the dry tea, the fresh juice of horsetail can break down riboflavin, and should not be used long term, or short term by pregnant or nursing women.
Horsetail Soapwort Shampoo:
7 T. snipped fresh horsetail stems * 7 T. grated dried soapwort root * 1 gallon water
Soak grated soapwort root in water overnight, then drain. Boil water, add the horsetails and grated soapwort root that sat in it overnight, and boil for 15 minutes. Take off of heat, and let sit for one hour. Strain, bottle and refrigerate. Use 1 cup of shampoo to wash hair.

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 millilitres, 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.



evergreen said...

Thanks for posting about horsetail. So interesting...I will be on the lookout for some.

Dezire said...

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. 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.