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Horsetail, Equisetum arvense
Habitat: Common on wet ground and waste places.
Collection: Take care to ensure the plants being picked are E. arvense or other common species, as some other species are rare but locally abundant. Collect in early summer. Cut the plant just above the ground, hang in bundles and dry in an airy place.
Part Used: Dried aerial stems.
- Alkaloids, including nicotine, palustrine and palustrinine
- Flavonoids such as isoquercitrin and equicetrin
- Sterols including cholesterol, isofucosterol, campesterol.
- Silicic acid.
- Misc: a saponin equisitonin, dimethylsulphone, thiaminase & aconitic acid.
Actions: Astringent, diuretic, vulnerary.
Indications: Horsetail is an excellent astringent for the genito-urinary system, reducing hemorrhage and healing wounds thanks to the high silica content. Whilst it acts as a mild diuretic, its toning and astringent actions make it invaluable in the treatment of incontinence and bed wetting in children. It is considered a specific in cases of inflammation or benign enlargement of the prostate gland. Externally it is a vulnerary. In some cases it has been found to ease the pain of rheumatism and stimulate the healing of chilblains.
Ellingwood suggests the following uses: dropsy, lithaemia, haematuria, gonorrhoea, gleet, irritable bladder, enuresis in children, prostatitis, and the ashes for acid dyspepsia.
Combinations: Horsetail is often combined with Hydrangea in the treatment of prostate troubles.
Preparations & Dosage: Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 2 teaspoonfuls of the dried plant and let infuse for 15-20 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day. Bath: a useful bath can be made to help in rheumatic pain and chilblains. Allow l00 grams (3 1/2 ounces of the herb to steep in hot water for an hour. Add this to the bath. Tincture: take 2-4 ml of the tincture three times a day.