Wonderful, Magical Horsetail Herb

Horsetail, in its clusters, growing wild
in its clusters, growing wild

My new love…

I call this herb the wonderful, magical horsetail herb simply because it is. It’s been a rather understated herb for me over the years. That is, until I needed to heal something and discovered this was the herb to help.

As a California girl, I’m pretty certain we don’t have this herb anywhere in the state of California. Perhaps you might find the herb in the Pacific North West, but I know it’s a water loving herb. Most herbs are. Most of the herbs tend to grow along river beds, streams, or where there might be higher levels of ground water. This of course makes the hunt and collection of these particular herbs easier than those who don’t tend to grow along water ways.

I’ve been more of an observer when it comes to this herb, and have tended to walk by it countless times, over many years. It’s certainly a site when you do stumble upon it. Usually, where one grows, many grow and they tend to grow in large groups or clusters. Equisetum is the botanical name, and it’s history is almost as old as the earth itself. It’s said to be a living fossil, and that over a 100 million years ago during the Paleozoic times, this spore-species was actually a towering forest tree. It was said that the earth was largely covered in forests of Equisetum. For some reason, today, it’s heights only reach about 4′. But if you happen to find them in a cluster in the forest, you can almost imagine what it must have looked like a hundred million years ago here on planet earth!

Judge the book by the cover in this instance…

I was looking for a therapeutic to help treat a fungus on a family member’s toe nail. I looked on my website, typed in the symptom and horsetail came up. Like I said, I’ve basically ignored this incredible healer, so I didn’t know much about it. They say the basic appearance can tell a lot about the herbs healing qualities. This herb as you can see is a long jointed stem with long fine hairs growing out of it. It’s hair appears to have a slick shine to it, yet the hair itself is rather rough to the feel. In the winter months, it remains a long slender green stem that can withstand the cold frigid months, only to blossom spiky hairs in the spring, or to reemerge from the ground in small shoot-formation, kind of like that of a fern. These are also spore species, not seed species. So, spores indicates fungus?

plant showing stem

The healing properties of this herb are quite impressive, and this herb is to be given in 2 week increments, and not to exceed 2 months of regular use. Horsetail is great for healing tonsillitis, for improving weak brittle hair or thinning hair. It’s great for skin conditions such as acne, redness or irritation. High in antioxidant phytochemicals and silica, this makes the herb great for skin, hair and nails. It’s also said to be quite effective in treating fungus in nails or in the body. As the stem demonstrates many ‘joint’ formations, you can conclude that horsetail is a great anti-inflammatory and is useful in treating arthritis and joint issues.

How this works…

I dove into this horsetail project head first, and couldn’t wait to start using it. My first step is to dry the herb out. Like any other herb, lay the fresh cuttings flat on a clean tray and put it in a nice quiet corner. Give it a few weeks to completely dry out. Next, decide which direction you want to go with this. If you want to make a skin tonic, I learned that it’s quite effective to soak the herbs in apple cider vinegar. This can also be an oral option if treating tonsillitis for example, or be applied to the skin with a cotton pad.

dried horsetail sitting in apple cider vinegar

Making your tonics

3 options for using horsetail

I went with 3 options. I dried the herb and kept it stored in my ‘tea’ jars. It’s labeled, and in the tea cabinet to use whenever the need arises. Next I made an alcohol soak. Using a 40% alcohol grade (like vodka for example), I can use this orally, or I can rub it on a sore joint or fungal area of the body such as a toenail. Lastly, I made the apple cider vinegar tincture to cover the other areas. To us it topically on the skin, rub it directly into the scalp to help with hair loss, or to take a spoonful a day without the alcohol side-effects.

As with any herb, do your own research. I’m by no means a trained botanist, or herbalist. I’ve just read a few books that have given me insight. As always, investigate the healing options thoroughly before you use it. Understand the dangers (if any exist), long-term side effects (if any exist), and never over use herbs. Never use herbs when pregnant or lactating unless you are sure it has no side-effects for the fetus or baby. Be sure as I always mention, that your herbs are gently plucked from a rather clean location, a place that is hopefully free from pesticides, herbicides and car pollution. These are only suggestions based on my learning.

  • 3 options for using horsetail
  • clearly label your tinctures with name and date
  • dried and ready for tea cabinet
  • dried horsetail sitting in apple cider vinegar
  • horsetail in alcohol

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