A natural treatment for osteoporosis and urinary tract infections is Horsetail. (Equisetum arvense), the field horsetail or common horsetail is a herbaceous perennial plant, native throughout the arctic and temperate regions of the northern hemisphere.
It has separate sterile, non-reproductive and fertile spore-bearing stems, growing from a perennial underground rhizomatous stem system. The fertile stems are produced in early spring and are non-photosynthetic, while the green sterile stems start to grow after the fertile stems have wilted, and persist through the summer until the first autumn frosts.
The above ground parts of horsetail (fresh or dried) are used for medicinal purposes. The plant contains several substances which can be used medicinally. It is rich in the minerals silicon (10%), potassium, and calcium. The chemicals in horsetail may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Plants related to horsetail contain chemicals that work like diuretics and increase urine output.
The buds are eaten as a vegetable in Japan and Korea in spring time. All other Equisetum species are toxic.
E. arvense herb has been used in traditional Austrian medicine internally as a tea, or externally as baths or compresses, for treatment of disorders of the skin, locomotor system, kidneys and urinary tract, rheumatism and gout.
Externally it was traditionally used for burns and wounds as applications to the skin.
Medicinal benefits of Horsetail
Osteoporosis – Early research suggests that taking the dry horsetail extract or a specific product containing horsetail extract plus calcium (Osteosil Calcium) by mouth can increase bone density in post-menopausal women with osteoporosis. Horsetail, has been suggested as a treatment for osteoporosis (thinning bones), because it contains silicon, a mineral needed for bone health.
Urinary tract infections, gout, fluid retention, kidney stones (Kidney stones can be as small as a grain of sand or larger than a pearl. They form as a result of an excess of minerals or other deposits in the kidneys, and they can become lodged in the ureters, the bladder or the urethra. They’re notorious for being painful to pass, especially when they block the flow of urine). – Horsetail, has traditionally been used as a diuretic (helps rid the body of excess fluid by increasing urine output). One study examined the use of horsetail by people who had a history of uric acid kidney stones. The people who took horsetail experienced an increase in diuresis (urine output). Other studies suggest horsetail has antioxidant properties and may inhibit cancer cell growth.
Nowadays, external treatment with horsetail is recommended as compresses in: abscesses, eczema, nosebleed, profuse sweating of the feet.
Horsetail – Methods of Preparation
Horsetail powder is obtained by grinding the dried plant. Take the powder, 3 to 4 times a day, one teaspoon; it is well tolerated by the body in long-term treatment and it is effective in: treating bleeding, anemia post-hemorrhagic, strengthen bones and teeth. Don’t take the treatment longer than 6 weeks.
Tea obtained by cold maceration: mix 1 liter of cold water and 4 – 6 tablespoons of horsetail powder in the evening. Let the mixture soak over the night. In the morning strain the liquid and drink it throughout the day. Horsetail tea prepared as cold macerated has a diuretic effect, removes the excess of water from tissues, and detoxifies the body.
Herbal Infusion – pour one cup of boiling water onto one teaspoon of dried plant; steep for 10 – 15 minutes, drink 2 – 3 cups of tea each day.
External (compresses): For external treatment with compresses, use decoction tea, which is more concentrated. Preparation: add 1 heaping tablespoon of herb to a cup of water, boil the mixture for 10 minutes, then strain and use the liquid for external treatment.
The effects of horsetail may enhance the effects of certain medications. For this reason, people taking prescription medications should not take horsetail without first consulting a health care provider.
Special Precautions & Warnings
Horsetail remedies prepared from Equisetum arvense are generally considered safe when used properly. Another species of horsetail, however, called Equisetum palustre is poisonous to horses. To be safe, never take that form of horsetail.
Be sure to buy products made by an established company with a good reputation. When possible, select products with guaranteed potency or standardized extracts.
Prolonged use of even the safe form of horsetail (E. arvense) is also not advised.
Taking horsetail by mouth may cause levels of vitamin B1 (thiamin) in the body to drop. If you take horsetail on a regular basis, you should also take a quality multivitamin, or at least a B complex supplement daily.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking horsetail if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Alcoholism: People who are alcoholics are generally also thiamine deficient. Taking horsetail might make thiamine deficiency worse.
Diabetes: Horsetail might lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and check your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use horsetail.
Low potassium levels (hypokalemia): Horsetail might flush potassium out of the body, possibly leading to potassium levels that are too low. Until more is known, use horsetail with caution if you are at risk for potassium deficiency.