Does the Hair Vitamin Horsetail Really Work?

Horsetail is an ancient herbal remedy used to treat a variety of conditions, from healing ulcers and wounds to combating kidney problems. Because of certain minerals it contains, this herb may also improve the health of your hair. However, because herbs can interact with certain medications and conditions, check with your doctor before you begin taking it, and discuss the risks and benefits of using horsetail as part of your hair health regimen.

Woman brushing her hair (Image: David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Minerals in Horsetail

Horsetail, or Equisetum arvense, contains the mineral silica or silicon, which works to strengthen your bones, as well as your nails and hair. Not only can this mineral make your hair strong, but it can also improve the sheen and texture of it as well. Horsetail also contains selenium, a mineral that is essential for the proper growth of your hair, as it helps your body process iodine, which regulates hair growth as well. A deficiency in selenium can lead to slow hair growth, and consuming horsetail can help you get enough of these minerals in your diet.

Ways to Use It

Because horsetail is an herb, there is no RDA for it. There is more than one way to consume or use it. It is available in the form of a dried herb, which you can use to make a tea, a shampoo, or a drinkable liquid, which you can consume on its own. A standardized dose of horsetail is 300 mg taken three times a day, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. You can also steep 2 to 3 tsp. of the dried herb in hot water and make a tea up to three times a day. To make a shampoo out of horsetail, steep 2 tbsp. in 4 oz. of hot water, and then add this mixture to a baby shampoo to use daily.

Considerations and Precautions

Few studies have been conducted to determine the effects of horsetail on humans, so the extent to which it will improve your hair health is uncertain. Also, be aware that long-term use of this herb is not recommended, and consuming it may result in a dangerous drop in your thiamin or vitamin B-1 levels. To prevent this, ask your doctor about also taking a B-complex supplement while you are using horsetail.

Potential Interactions

If you have gout, diabetes or a heart or kidney disorder, you should not consume horsetail. Women who are pregnant, people who drink alcohol chronically or those who are using nicotine patches or gum should avoid this herb as well. It can also interact with diuretics and medications used to treat heart arrhythmias. If you have a condition or are on medications that prevent you from using horsetail, ask your doctor about alternative herbs that can improve the health of your hair.

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