Horsetail Characteristics & Uses


The Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) belongs to a family of plants some 400 million years old, some of which grew to over 30 feet during prehistoric times. For centuries, it has been used for medicinal purposes to heal eye infections and kidney disorders, and, more recently, as a treatment for osteoporosis.


Horsetail is a nonflowering perennial weed. The shoot of this plant is a brownish stem with a cone-like structure at the top. When the plant dries out, silica crystals form within the stems, resulting in a type of "bottle brush."

Historical Uses

As a folk remedy, horsetail was often used to stop bleeding wounds and cuts, as mouth rinse, and to alleviate kidney problems. Because of the abrasiveness of the dried weed, it was often used to scrub pots and to polish metal, especially pewter.

Women's Benefits

Horsetail extract contains silica, which forms collagen and helps to heal broken bones. It is being used today as a treatment for osteoporosis. Horsetail has also been used to treat those with overly heavy menstrual flow.

Other Benefits

Horsetail extract is also a diuretic and can help with kidney disorders, urinary tract infections, incontinence, prostate problems and even bed-wetting. Topically, horsetail has been shown to treat burns, rheumatism and sprains. It's also been helpful for those suffering from emphysema.


As an extract, horsetail is usually given three times per day at 1 to 4 ml. A tea can also be made of the dried herb by using 2 to 3 teaspoons in a cup of boiling water and letting steep for 10 minutes. This can be taken up to three times daily as well.


Horsetail extract should not be taken over an extended period of time. There may be drug interactions, so make sure you consult with your doctor before beginning any horsetail treatment.


  • The Magic & Medicine of Plants; Reader's Digest, 1986.
  • Horsetail
  • Horsetail Benefits
Keywords: horsetail benefits, horsetail uses, horestail extract

About this Author

Sonia Acone is a full-time freelance writer in northeast Pennsylvania. She has been published by The Wild Rose Press and is currently writing children's picture books, as well as online content. Acone writes articles for eHow and She has been freelance writing since 2008. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and professional writing from Elizabethtown College.