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What is Horsetail?

This plant is native to Europe, North America, North Africa, and northern Asia. Horsetail is more closely related to ferns than to flowering plants and produces spore sacs. This rush-like perennial has hollow, pointed stems, scale-like leaves, and no flowers. Horsetail grows best in moist and shady areas.

Scientific Name(s)

Equisetum arvense

Common Name(s)

Horsetail also is known as bottle brush, scouring rush, shave grass, Dutch rush, and pewterwort.

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Traditionally, the plant has been used as a diuretic, an antitubercular drug, and in the treatment of genitourinary and respiratory disorders, arthritis, and bleeding ulcers. Owing to the abrasive nature of its high silica content, horsetail has been used to clean dishes, sand wood, and polish metal. Externally, it has been used in cosmetics and as an astringent to stop bleeding and stimulate wound healing.

Miscellaneous uses

Horsetail may exert slight diuretic activity, although studies are needed to prove this. The historical data reporting the use of horsetail in the treatment of urological disorders, tuberculosis, or to enhance wound healing lacks clinical evidence.

What is the recommended dosage?

A water extract of horsetail was used in a clinical study as a hypoglycemic in type 2 diabetes at 0.33 g/kg via the oral route.


No longer considered safe for use.


Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Avoid use.


None well documented.

Side Effects

No data.


Horsetail is of undefined safety and may be toxic, especially to children. Avoid use during pregnancy.


1. Horsetail. Review of Natural Products. factsandcomparisons4.0 [online]. 2004. Available from Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Accessed April 17, 2007.

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