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Horsetail, also known by Rough Horsetail, Scouring Rush, Bottle Brush, Shavegrass and Equisetaceae, is a non-flowering evergreen perennial that dates back some 350 million years ago. Horsetail is the only surviving member of the Equisetales family or Horsetail family, with one surviving genus, Equisetum, which comprises about twenty species. The Equisetales family in the Paleozoic times was once large tree-like plants that possessed ribbed stems similar to modern Horsetail strains. Pseudobornia, known only from fossils found, is the oldest known relative of Equisetum; it grew in the late Devonian, about 375 million years ago.
Horsetail prefers wet conditions even standing water and is a common road and streamside plant found throughout parts of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America. Because it sometimes likes to live in drainage areas, which is great for finding and identifying, it is not so great for the uptake of potential toxins such as heavy metals and PCBs.
Horsetail–a close relative of the fern reproducing through spores (not seed),–like ferns spreads via rhizomes and is an aggressive spreader. It would likely be considered invasive if it weren’t native to North America. Horsetail has vertical green stems with horizontal bands similar to bamboo, but the stems are skinny like a tall grass. Tiny ridges that run vertically along the stems contain silica. Early Americans used this plant for scouring pots and pans giving it some of its common names such as scouring rush.
Equisetum species have 2 forms of plants; fertile or reproductive stems that are pale brown due to lack of chlorophyll. They appear earlier in the spring and are followed by sterile stems which vegetative and green. The pinecone-like structure formed at the end of the fertile stem produces thousands of minute, pale green to yellowish spores. The genus name, Equisetum, translates to “horse-bristle” or “tail”, describing the appearance of the sterile stems.
The North American native peoples used Horsetail to treat several kidney and bladder ailments and some Indigenous people cooked and ate the young shoots of Horsetail. The green stems of Horsetail are having been traditionally used for their mineral content, including being one of the plants highest in silica. Horsetail was traditionally used to remineralize the body including hair, nails, teeth, bones, joints and skin. Horsetail used traditionally in ancient Roman and Greek times to stop bleeding, heal ulcers and wounds, and treat tuberculosis and kidney problems.
Silica is not easily water soluble and for this reason has to be boiled, made into a herbal vinegar or alcohol extract.
The taste and energetics of Horsetail are earthy, bitter, sweet, pungent, cooling and astringent. Horsetail has an affinity to nervous system, respiratory system, kidneys, bladder, prostate, musculoskeletal system, skin, digestive system and pancreas. Combine Horsetail with Oat Seed, Nettle Leaf and Alfalfa to support bones and joint. To support the kidneys and bladder combine Horsetail with Corn Silk, Marshmallow Root, Plantain Leaf, Couch Grass and a small amount of Yarrow.
How to use:
1 teaspoon of Horsetail to one cup of boiling water. Simmer for 15 minutes, strain and drink up to three cups a day.
Or make an herbal vinegar to use as culinary on food, or take a teaspoon or two a day as a mineral supplement.
Herbal Vinegar Recipe:
1 part dried Horsetail to 15 parts vinegar, or 75g of dried herb and 750ml of apple cider vinegar.
Directions: Pour in enough vinegar to fill jar to about 1/2 inch from the top. Wipe any liquid off the rim and then cover opening with a plastic lid, or parchment (no metal as it may corrode during the process) and secure with a rubber band.
Label and date your jar. Store your jar in a cool, dark place and let extract for 2-4 weeks. However, during the infusing period, (remove the parchment paper, cover with a lid) shake the jar every few days to assist in the extraction.
When the allotted time is up, strain your vinegar through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Push down on the herbal waste to extract as much of the vinegar as possible into a clean container. Pour your finished product into small bottles, label and date.
Cautions & contraindications:
Large amounts of this herb can cause a vitamin B1 deficiency, it is best to take B vitamins when you are taking Horsetail.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or illness. Please consult your healthcare provider prior to the use of this product if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medications or have a medical condition. Individual results may vary.