Horsetail Extract Guide
Horsetail is a thin perennial plant that has a distinctive stem that looks like the tail of a horse – hence the name. Here’s our horsetail extract guide.
What is Horsetail Extract?
Horsetail Extract is a concentrated extract that comes from a plant whose distinctive shape resembles the tail of a bird or horse.
The horsetail plant itself is a thin, sterile, perennial plant rhizomatous stem. The stem of the plant is the part that looks like a horsetail.
The plant also has the unique distinction of reproducing by its spores instead of its seeds.
If you haven’t heard of horsetail extract, then you may know the plant by some of its other names – like pewterwort. The plant was traditionally used to polish pewter and wood, hence the name.
Horsetail actually goes by many other names as well. It is sometimes called Scouring Rush, for example, due to the abrasive coating of silicates on its stems that were once used to scour metal pots.
Other names include Giant Horsetail, Bottle Brush, Shavegrass, Candock, Paddock Pipes, Field Horsetail, and Common Horsetail.
History of Horsetail Extract
The reason horsetail extract is known by so many names is that it has been used by many different civilizations over the years. We have evidence that the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Chinese all used horsetail for its therapeutic benefits.
These ancient civilizations would use all parts of the plant for different purposes.
They would use the extract of the plant for various health benefits, for example. As you’ll learn below, the plant has powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Meanwhile, the leaves of the plant were used to dye clothing a soft green color. Some civilizations also use horsetail stalks to make whistles to call spirits. Indians used the extract to polish wooden tools. The Japanese used it as a fine sand paper to sand the final layer of wood before varnishing.
Today, however, horsetail extract is primarily prized for its rich blend of vitamins and minerals – including manganese, calcium, iron, and flavonoids.
Benefits of Horsetail Extract
Horsetail extract is one of those general remedies that has been purported to treat a wide range of conditions and ailments. This is because horsetail extract is known for all of the following effects:
— Antibacterial and antimicrobial
For the reasons listed above, horsetail extract is traditionally used to treat health conditions where you experience breakdown of hair, teeth, nails, and bone.
It’s also used to treat inflammation of mucous membranes in the mouth or conditions like tonsillitis.
Over the years, however, horsetail extract has been used to treat just about everything – including diabetes, acne, skin wounds, bladder problems, gastrointestinal diseases, sprains, fractures, prostate problems, bronchitis, malaria, and many more. Once again, it’s one of those general treatments that has been linked to a wide variety of treatments.
In the scientific world, however, horsetail extract has not been definitively linked to any condition treatments.
On WebMD.com, for example, the site states that although the plant is used to make medicine, there is no evidence that it can be used to treat any specific condition.
However, WebMD.com does admit that:
“early research suggests that taking dry horsetail extract or a specific product containing horsetail extract plus calcium (Osteosil Calcium) by mouth can increase bone density in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.”
The problem with that study is that it involved taking a calcium supplement as well as dry horsetail extract. Did the calcium supplement have a larger effect on the increased bone density – or was it more related to the horsetail extract? Further studies are required before we can definitively answer that question.
How to Use Horsetail Extract
If you don’t have a horsetail plant near your house (you probably don’t), then your best option is to buy horsetail extract online.
The extract isn’t extremely popular, so you don’t have a lot of purchasing options.
Mountain Rose Herbs, however, does sell a horsetail extract. That extract has an herb:alcohol ratio of 1:2 and is extracted from fresh horsetail shoots.
The manufacturer recommends using that extract in tea, tinctures, and encapsulations.
You can also sometimes found horsetail extract in cosmetic products, where it’s prized for its anti-inflammatory properties.
On MountainRoseHerbs.com, the 4 ounce container of horsetail extract retails for $30.50.
You can also buy a 1 ounce container for $9.25
Ultimately, horsetail extract is a popular herbal extract that has been used throughout history in everything from teas to scouring products. Today, you’re more likely to find it in topical skin creams and bottled extracts. Although the extract hasn’t been definitively linked to any major health benefits, there’s some small evidence that the extract can be used to increase bone density – particularly in those who are predisposed to reduced bone density (like post-menopausal women).