Horsetail, also commonly referred to as bottlebrush or scouring brush, is a plant that grows primarily in wet regions. Its name originated from its history of the plant being attached to horse’s tails to help keep flies away. Herbalists claim the plant has a variety of medicinal uses. For easier consumption, the plant is boiled with water to make horsetail tea. Dried horsetail is generally available commercially and sold loosely or packed in teabags so it can be prepared at home.
One of the most traditional uses for horsetail tea has been as a diuretic. A diuretic refers to a substance that causes more urination than normal. Increased urination may be promoted as a possible treatment for kidney diseases, heart failure, liver disease, and high blood pressure. The process may help rid the body of excessive fats, salt, and other toxins. Other historical uses include consuming the tea as a sedative or as a possible aid to help prevent seizures and convulsions.
Supporters of horsetail tea for medicinal purposes also claim it has even more health benefits. The plant contains silica, a naturally occurring chemical compound that is thought to help strengthen internal organs, bones, and joints. The tea is often marketed as a treatment for fractured or weakened bones, hair loss, brittle or peeling fingernails, and swelling. Although there is no conclusive proof, some manufacturers of the tea promote it as helping naturally destroy tumors and parasites, and fight tuberculosis.
If horsetail tea is purchased already packaged into teabags, it is prepared into tea simply by soaking it in hot water, a process known as steeping. The loose version of the tea will generally require a tea infuser, a small device with holes in it that holds the tea leaves, while allowing them to still flavor the water. Once the teabag or infuser is inserted into hot water, it is usually left for about five minutes to flavor the water. It is then recommended to then be served immediately while still hot for the best results.
The exact dosage instructions for the tea can vary depending on the manufacturer who produces the commercial version or the herbalist who recommends it. Hot horsetail tea is generally recommended to be consumed between meals, approximately twice per day. When being used for a specific treatment, it is often suggested to be consumed regularly for at least two weeks to reap the maximum benefits.
There are no widely reported side effects that occur after drinking the tea, but the product is generally recommended for adults only. Since the effects of the tea have not been studied in children, it is not recommended that pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding consume it. Since the tea can cause increased urine output, it may be dangerous for those who have kidney disorders.