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Horsetail – Pocket Herbal

Horsetail – Pocket Herbal

Equisetum arvense – Equisetaceae family

To call Horsetail a dinosaur plant is not entirely accurate. The horsetail family emerged from boggy, primordial swamps over a hundred million years before dinosaurs walked the Earth. At the time, giant dragonflies with 2 foot wingspan rested in horsetail forests grown over 300 feet tall.

Today, herbalists still find tiny dragonflies resting on horsetail stems as they collect spring shoots for medicine. Horsetail is popular as a diuretic to ease water retention due to heart disease or infections. Horsetail also has antibacterial and antispasmodic properties that work wonders on urinary tract infections.

One of the advantages to horsetail is how simple this little plant is to use. It dries nicely into a tea with a reasonable shelf life. Horsetail’s bland taste makes it easy to give to children with bed wetting problems. It can be sweetened with raspberry leaf and licorice root, which eliminates much of the challenge of persuading a taste-sensitive child to drink his or her nightly medicine.

Herbalists visit the dragonflies to collect horsetail for its high silica content as well. This mineral is essential to reducing hemorrhages and healing wounds. Soaking in the bath with dried horsetail tied into a washrag speeds healing to a scratched and bruised body. If you close your eyes while absorbing horsetail healing energy, you can imagine this plant’s murky ancestry – with or without the dinosaurs.

Sue Sierralupe

Sue Sierralupé is a Certified Master Herbalist, Master Gardener and Sustainable Landscape Specialist. She is the clinic manager and lead herbalist at Occupy Medical clinic. Sue is author of The Pocket Herbal: Medicinal Plants that Changed the World and co-author of The Practical Herbalist Herbal Folios series. Follow her blog at Herbalism Manifesto for commentary on herbs, parenting, nutrition and a whole lot more.


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