The horsetail, whose scientific name is Equisetum arvense, is a plant native to several countries in Asia, Europe, and North America. It is currently cultivated in various areas of the world to take advantage of its medicinal and pharmacological properties. Horsetail is sold dried or in the form of tablets, capsules, extracts, or tinctures.
Used orally, horsetail is a potent natural diuretic. It also acts as an antioxidant, antimicrobial, astringent (antidiarrheal), hepatoprotective, and remineralizing (at the bone level) agent. Are you eager to learn more about this vascular plant? We have designed this guide to solve all your doubts.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our Selection: The Best Horsetail Supplements
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Horsetail
- 4.1 What is horsetail exactly?
- 4.2 What are the medicinal properties of horsetail?
- 4.3 What are the active ingredients of horsetail?
- 4.4 When are horsetail supplements indicated?
- 4.5 What types of ponytail supplements are there?
- 4.6 Can horsetail treat cellulite?
- 4.7 How can I consume horsetail responsibly?
- 4.8 Does horsetail help lose weight?
- 4.9 What are the side effects of Equisetum arvense?
- 4.10 What are the contraindications of Equisetum arvense?
- 5 Buyer's Guide
- 6 Summary
- Horsetail has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. It can contribute to the health of the kidneys, liver, urinary tract, bones, and nervous system.
- The sterile stem of the Equisetum arvense is marketed dried or in different types of dietary supplements.
- You should evaluate various critical factors in order to purchase a horsetail product that is both effective and safe for health. These include the dosage form and taste of the supplement, as well as its suitability with your diet or the potential presence of allergens.
Our Selection: The Best Horsetail Supplements
This vascular plant isn't only consumed orally; you can also find products that are applied to the skin, hair, or nails. We want to delve deeper into oral horsetail supplements, which is why we have selected some of the most popular ones currently available on the market. Have a look at the following section, and you might just find the right products for you!
Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Horsetail
While horsetail is a natural product, you have to consume it responsibly to avoid any unwanted effects. To do so, you need to be more familiar with its medicinal properties, the types of supplements available on the market, the recommended daily doses, and its few contraindications and side effects. In the section below, we have answered the most frequently asked questions regarding horsetail.
What is horsetail exactly?
What are the medicinal properties of horsetail?
- It acts as a natural diuretic and can cure fluid retention. While researchers are still trying to understand the mechanisms by which horsetail increases urine production and elimination, its diuretic effects resemble those of the drug hydrochlorothiazide (1, 2, 3).
- It provides antioxidants. The Equisetum arvense plant contains phenolic and flavonoid compounds that perform an antioxidant function and block oxidizing free radicals. Oxidative damage is linked to premature aging, cardiovascular conditions, type II diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's and Parkinson's) (1, 4).
- It has a remineralizing effect on nails, hair, teeth, and bones. Horsetail is very rich in silica, which means that it can strengthen bones and teeth. In addition, people take it to treat brittle nails and capillary fragility (1, 5).
- It prevents and helps to treat osteoporosis. This is due to its high content in silica and flavonoids. The first compound increases calcium absorption and promotes collagen synthesis, while flavonoids reduce bone loss and stimulate bone formation in osteoblasts (5).
- It has astringent (antidiarrheal) properties. Horsetail contains tannins, which are astringent substances capable of reducing the duration and/or intensity of diarrhea episodes (2).
- It regulates inflammation. The Equisetum arvense plant may be useful to complement the treatment of inflammatory disorders, such as arthritis. That being said, further studies are required to confirm this (1, 6).
- It protects the liver from toxins (hepatoprotective action). This is linked to the high levels of antioxidant compounds (flavonoids and phenolic compounds) present in these supplements (7).
- It prevents platelet aggregation and the formation of blood clots. Horsetail can contribute to preventing cardiovascular and cerebral complications induced by the presence of clots that obstruct or break blood vessels (1).
- It is a natural sedative and anticonvulsant. Equisetum arvense extract extends sleeping time while decreasing seizure episodes (1, 8).
- It improves glycemic control. Horsetail lowers blood glucose levels (glycemia) in diabetic rats. Human studies are needed to confirm this potential antidiabetic effect (1, 9).
- It has antimicrobial properties. Equisetum arvense supplements are effective in inhibiting the development of certain bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Proteus mirabilis, and Staphylococcus saprophyticus (1, 10).
What are the active ingredients of horsetail?
- Flavonoids: kaempferol, apigenin, luteolin.
- Phenolic glycosides: Equisetumoside A, Equisetumoside B, Equisetumoside C.
- Phytosterols: campesterol, beta-sitosterol, epicolestanol.
- Alkaloids: nicotine.
- Minerals: silicic acid, silicates, calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium.
When are horsetail supplements indicated?
What types of ponytail supplements are there?
- Dried herb: The sterile stems and small leaves are dried and finely cut until obtaining a fiber-looking appearance. This can be used to make infusions and decoctions. For a single cup of beverage, boil 1 to 2 teaspoons in 250 milliliters of water for 5 minutes.
- Capsules/tablets: Horsetail powder (crushed sterile stems) is mixed with magnesium carbonate to produce tablets or wrapped in a hydroxypropyl methylcellulose coating for capsules. The recommended daily dose is 1 to 3 units per day. Each capsule or tablet provides between 200 and 500 milligrams of Equisetum arvense.
- Liquid extract: The active ingredients of horsetail are extracted from the stems and leaves before being concentrated to obtain this liquid. You are advised to consume is 1 to 2 milliliters per day, which is equivalent to 28-40 drops. Each milliliter of liquid extract provides 560 milligrams of Equisetum arvense. You must dissolve it in water before drinking it.
|Dried herb||Capsules/tablets||Liquid extract|
|Form of consumption||As an infusion by leaving the horsetail to stand in water at approximately 195°F, or in a decoction by boiling the horsetail in water for at least 5 minutes). You can also make mother tinctures (highly concentrated decoctions) to apply to the skin, scalp, or nails.||Alone with water||You should dilute the drops in a bit of water.|
|Taste||Intense and bitter, but your palate gets used to it over time.||Soft, almost neutral||Bitter, but softened by diluting it in water|
|Recommended daily dose||3 to 6 grams||1 to 3 units||1 to 2 milliliters, equivalent to 20 or 40 drops, respectively|
Can horsetail treat cellulite?
How can I consume horsetail responsibly?
- When consuming horsetail, you must increase your water intake to compensate for the enhanced production and elimination of urine. Otherwise, you will become dehydrated.
- Always stick to the dosage indicated by the manufacturer or your physician. Excessive consumption of Equisetum arvense can lead to unwanted side effects.
- Horsetail contains tannins, substances that can inhibit the absorption of iron from food. For this reason, you should take these supplements between meals and without food (13).
Does horsetail help lose weight?
What are the side effects of Equisetum arvense?
What are the contraindications of Equisetum arvense?
|Indications for horsetail||Contraindications for horsetail|
|Edema (fluid retention)||Children under the age of five|
|High blood pressure||Hypersensitivity (allergy) to horsetail|
|Urinary tract infections||Severe kidney, liver, or heart condition|
|Gout||People following a nicotine replacement therapy|
|Brittle nails||Individuals with vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency|
There are so many Equisetum arvense supplements on the market that making a shopping decision can be daunting at times. If you are looking to take horsetail to make the most of its benefits and improve your overall health, you should pay attention to a series of key aspects. We have detailed them in the following section to help you make the best possible purchase:
Horsetail is sold in the form of dried herb, capsules, tablets, and liquid extract. Dried herb is ideal for people looking to consume a 100% natural product, while capsules and tablets are slightly more processed but easier to take. As we briefly explained earlier, liquid extracts offer the highest concentration of Equisetum arvense.
The dried herb and the liquid extract are recommended for people who can tolerate the natural taste of horsetail, which is particularly intense and bitter. If you have any trouble adapting to this peculiar flavor, you should turn to capsules and tablets. These supplements have a mild, almost neutral taste that you can barely feel as you swallow them.
Suitability for Vegan Diets
Equisetum arvense dried grass and liquid extract are suitable for vegan and vegetarian individuals as these products are 100% of plant origin. The capsules rarely contain animal-based ingredients, and the coating is generally made from hydroxypropyl methylcellulose. However, you should always check the ingredient list if you follow a vegan diet.
Presence of Allergens
Horsetail is naturally gluten-free but can become contaminated during processing – especially in the case of capsules and tablets. This is why people with celiac disease should look for the gluten-free seal of approval on the product. In addition, cross-contamination can lead to the presence of other allergens, such as soy, milk, or nuts.
Value for Money
Liquid horsetail extract is very effective, but it tends to be fairly expensive. Dried horsetail herb or tea bags are cheaper products but require time to brew. In that regard, capsules and tablets are often seen as the supplements that offer the best value for money. They are ready to be consumed, effective, and reasonably priced.
Horsetail, or Equisetum arvense, is a natural product that acts as a diuretic, remineralizer, antioxidant, hepatoprotector, astringent (antidiarrheal), and antimicrobial when taken orally. It is particularly beneficial in cases of edema (fluid retention), osteoporosis, brittle nails, and high blood pressure.
Horsetail supplements are sold in the form of capsules, dried herb, tablets, and liquid extract on the market. The sterile stems and leaves are used to create these products. Remember to increase your water intake when supplementing with Equisetum arvense, as this plant stimulates the production and excretion of urine.
Did you find our shopping guide on horsetail helpful and interesting? We'd love to hear your opinion, so feel free to leave us a comment in the section below. You can also share the power of this superfood with your friends and family on your social media!
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Al-Snafi A. The pharmacology of Equisetum arvense- A review [Internet]. Journal Of Pharmacy. 2017.
Cáceres M, Machaín M. Manual de Uso de Hierbas Medicinales del Paraguay [Internet]. 2001.
Carneiro D et al. Randomized, Double-Blind Clinical Trial to Assess the Acute Diuretic Effect of Equisetum arvense (Field Horsetail) in Healthy Volunteers [Internet]. 2014.
Carneiro D et al. Equisetum arvense: New Evidences Supports Medical use in Daily Clinic [Internet]. 2019.
Badole S, Kotwal S. Equisetum arvense: Ethanopharmacological and Phytochemical
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Grundemann C et al. Equisetum arvense (common horsetail) modulates the function of inflammatory immunocompetent cells [Internet]. 2014.
Oh H, Kim D, Cho J, Kim Y. Hepatoprotective and free radical scavenging activities of phenolic petrosins and flavonoids isolated from Equisetum arvense [Internet]. 2004.
Dos Santos J et al. Sedative and anticonvulsant effects of hydroalcoholic extract of Equisetum arvense [Internet]. 2005.
Safiyeh S et al. Antidiabetic effect of Equisetum arvense L. (Equisetaceae) in streptozotocin-induced diabetes in male rats [Internet]. 2007.
Pallag A et al. Equisetum arvense L. Extract Induces Antibacterial Activity and Modulates Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Apoptosis in Endothelial Vascular Cells Exposed to Hyperosmotic Stress [Internet]. 2018.
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