Horsetail is a perennial plant used as an herbal remedy. There are over 20 species of horsetail. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), horsetail is primarily used to stop bleeding, heal ulcers and treat kidney issues. Horsetail contains silica, an abundant mineral that helps promote strong bones and healthy skin, hair and nails.
Horsetail supplementation should not replace traditional medical care; consult your physician before taking horsetail.
Horsetail is a close relative of the fern and is a non-flowering plant found throughout North America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. According to UMMC, its use dates back to at least Roman and Greek medicine. Horsetail has hollow stems and shoots that resemble asparagus. When horsetail dries, silica crystals form in the stems and resemble feathery tails.
In osteoporosis bone density is decreased, resulting in thin, often brittle bones. It is associated with calcium deficiency and common in the elderly. According to UMMC, horsetail has been suggested for the treatment of osteoporosis, since silica is needed for bone health. Though more studies are needed, UMMC says horsetail appears to improve bone density.
Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in your body. It connects and supports your bones, tendons, skin, cartilage and muscle. Silica is a major constituent of collagen and helps support healthy tissues. Silica is marketed by itself as a general health supplement in several forms, including liquid and powder.
Silica helps your body absorb calcium. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body. It is needed for bone health and the proper function of your muscles and nerves. It is also needed for proper cell signaling -- a communication system that directs cellular activity.
You can use horsetail internally and externally. Because of its ability to reduce bleeding, it is used to stop nose bleeds and to treat cuts and wounds, bleeding hemorrhoids and heavy menstrual bleeding. You can place horsetail juice directly on a wound to stop blood flow.
Though horsetail is a natural supplement, it can trigger side effects. Oral horsetail supplements can reduce vitamin B-1 levels. If you are taking horsetail supplements, it is helpful to take a B-complex supplement as well, to prevent deficiency. According to UMMC, it is not recommended that you take horsetail long term. You should not use horsetail if you have diabetes, kidney disease, gout or heart disease. You are advised not to drink alcohol regularly if you are supplementing with horsetail.