There are many benefits of horsetail. One of its nicknames is scouring rush because its high silica content makes the horsetail plant abrasive. People used horsetail to scrub pots and pans in the days before steel wool and other types of scouring pads were invented. Some people today use horsetail in place of sandpaper, and it is also used to polish wood and pewter. Its leaves can be used to make a green dye, but its medicinal qualities are the best-known benefits of horsetail.
Horsetail’s medical effectiveness is due to the plant’s ability to absorb a wide variety of minerals from the soil. It is rare for a plant to absorb silica, and its high silica content is responsible for the benefits of horsetail for skin, bones, hair, and nails. Horsetail can be taken internally to strengthen brittle nails and eliminate white spots on nails. Supplements sold for the hair and nails receive their effectiveness from the benefits of horsetail, the principal component in many formulas.
Scouring rush contains a high concentration of many nutrients, including vitamin C and the minerals calcium, potassium, iron, and manganese. Its silica and calcium content make horsetail an effective treatment for damaged bones and tendons. Silica is necessary for the formation of collagen, so horsetail is a common ingredient in many products that target aging and wrinkles.
People with urinary tract disorders can also enjoy the benefits of horsetail. It is one of the most powerful herbal diuretics and can reduce the swelling of edema. Horsetail is a popular remedy for kidney stones since it can help flush them from the body. It is also effective in the treatment of cystitis and other kidney and bladder disorders.
Horsetail is an astringent that contracts bodily tissues and passages and can help stem diarrhea, bleeding ulcers, excessive menstrual flow, and other types of bleeding. When used topically, horsetail can speed the healing of sprains, burns, and other kinds of wounds. A compress or poultice made with horsetail can draw out infection and pus from boils and sores.
The benefits of horsetail include antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that make the herb an effective treatment for arthritis and respiratory disorders such as colds and bronchitis. Horsetail is sold at many health food stores in the form of leaves to make tea, capsules, and tinctures, which contain a concentrated form of the herb. The herb should only be taken on a temporary basis, however, since continued use can result in a thiamine deficiency. Horsetail contains nicotine and should be avoided by anyone using a nicotine patch.