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Field horsetail: medicinal plant with many fields of application
When it comes to teas for detoxification, detoxification or treatment of urinary tract disorders, field horsetail (Equisetum arvense) always a special recommendation due to its diuretic and diuretic properties. The medicinal plant, also known as the herb, can do much more. Field horsetail can be used in a variety of ways, especially in the area of joint and vascular complaints. And Equisetum arvense is also highly valued by connoisseurs as a medicinal herb. Find out here what the herb is all about and how it can best be used.
Profile for field horsetail
Scientific name: Equisetum arvense
Plant family: Horsetail Family (Equisetaceae)
Popular names: Field horsetail, sweeping herb, craft herb, Heermos, Hippuris, candelabra, pot weed, cat helmet, cat frond, ponytail, pan user, horse frond, box hay, shaft hay, scouring herb, tin herb
Plant parts used: Leaf shoots
Origin: America, Asia, Europe
Most important ingredients: Flavonoids, silica, minerals, phenolic acids, phytosterols
- Urinary tract diseases,
- Women suffering,
- Vascular diseases
- and joint diseases.
Plant portrait: gentle healing from the arable land
In addition to the field horsetail there are among the horsetail plants (Equisetaceae) still other species, whereby primarily Equisetum arvense is used medicinally. Its undemanding nature ensured a quite large distribution area in the northern hemisphere, which extends from America to Europe to Asia. Even in some regions of the southern hemisphere, such as South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, the field horsetail is naturalized. The growth habit of many horsetail is strongly reminiscent of bamboo.
In the case of field horsetail, on the other hand, in the case of green leaf shoots, one might rather be reminded of the branches of a coniferous tree, and again of a mushroom when looking at the spore shoots. Indeed, Equisetum does not form flowers, but rather like spore heads, over which the plant reproduces. The type of propagation was one of the first to emerge on Earth. It is therefore not surprising that horsetail plants with a history of over 300 million years represent one of the oldest plant families in our world.
By the way: The name of the horsetail stems from the fact that the individual sections of the hollow stem of this plant are quasi nested and you can literally pull them out and put them back together. Also nicknames such as cat fronds, horse fronds or ponytails are due to the special appearance of the field horsetail.
As the name suggests, horsetail grows preferentially on loamy fields or at least on clear meadow edges and embankments. However, farmers do not like this at all. Because with its deep rhizomes, the plant displaces crops and cereals relatively easily. In addition, the roots are difficult to remove, which is also a thorn in the side of farmers and farmers. Equisetum arvense is therefore often defined as a weed despite its medicinal effects. The field horsetail shares its dubious reputation with the nettle, which is also cried as a weed. And in terms of healing properties, both plants are similar in parts. This applies in particular to the diuretic effects of field horsetail and nettle, which is why both plants are often used as diuretics or for the treatment of urinary tract diseases such as cystitis. Sometimes both medicinal plants can even be found together in herbal mixtures, for example in the case of bladder and kidney tea.
Ackerschachtelhalm is therefore an insider tip, especially in the field of gynecology, because women suffer from an inflamed bladder due to their shortened urinary tract. The healing effects of Equisetum arvense but goes further. For example, even very weak menstrual bleeding should be remedied thanks to the field-promoting effect of field horsetail. Menopausal symptoms, such as changes in the vessels and tissues, also respond well to the use of the herb.
“[…] The root is woody, hard; the herb is astringent, so its juice soothes blood flows from the uterus […]. " - Wrote Dioskurides, ancient Greek doctor.
It is not difficult to guess that the use of horsetail has a long tradition. Dioskurides recommended the plant that bore the name Hippuris to him, for example for heavy uterine bleeding, coughing and wounds. The hemostatic effect was later praised by numerous other doctors and herbalists, including Paracelsus and Matthiolus. Sebastian Kneipp, German naturopath and inventor of the famous Kneipp cure for the treatment of vascular problems and tissue damage, also kept large pieces on the field horsetail and recommended it
- Vascular disease,
- Kidney semolina,
- Stone suffering,
- Urinary retention,
- and vomiting blood.
In folk medicine, horsetail was mostly known as the tin herb. The name, similar to the nickname "Pfannebutzer", comes from the fact that the green shoots of the field horsetail were used to clean metal in the past. The traditional fields of application of the tin herb included complaints such as
- Gum decline,
- Skin inflammation,
- Inflammation of the mucous membranes,
- and bone or joint problems.
Field horsetail was often combined with nettle or ribwort for this purpose.
Fields of application of field horsetail
Overall, naturopathy knows the following areas of application of the Equisetum arvense:
- Urinary disorders - For example, cystitis, bladder weakness, semolina, weak kidneys or dropsy.
- Inflammation - For example, inflammation of the intestines, inflammation of the skin and mucous membranes or inflammation of the gums.
- Vascular discomfort - For example, circulatory disorders, vascular bleeding, varicose veins or weak menstrual bleeding.
- Bone and joint problems - For example broken bones, osteoporosis or rheumatism.
- other complaints - For example, shortness of breath, brittle fingernails, gout, hair loss, tuberculosis or wounds.
"Drunk with wine, it helps [the field horsetail] for dysentery [dysentery / bacterial inflammation of the intestine], also drives the urine. The leaves stick to bloody sores when sprinkled on finely rubbed; the root and the herb are beneficial for coughs, orthopnea [shortness of breath] and internal ruptures. It is also said that the leaves, drunk with water, will correct a bowel division, a tear in the bladder and a broken bowel. ” - Dioscurals
Ingredients and effects
Plant dyes are commonly referred to as flavonoids, the word deriving from Latin flavus for 'yellow' and thus derived from yellow dyes of a vegetable nature. They were the first, scientifically more precisely determined flavonoids and are now grouped together in the flavonoid subgroup of flavones. Some of them are also represented in the field horsetail, for example quercetin. The name comes from the Latin word quercus for "oak" because the dyed oak (Quercus tinctoria) was once considered one of the first natural dye suppliers to yellow textiles. Accordingly, quercetin was one of the first flavonoids ever discovered and used.
It is now known that quercetin, in addition to its properties as a dye, also has an antioxidative and anticarcinogenic effect. Accordingly, it is highly valued on the one hand in the area of detoxification measures, and on the other hand also used in the treatment of heart, vascular and cancer diseases. The situation is similar with apigenin and luteolin. These are two other flavones that are also known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Luteolin also counteracts an increased uric acid level (hyperuricaemia), which is why it is particularly relevant for the treatment of gout. The metabolic disease is based on an increased loss of uric acid crystals in the blood, which in the long term does not only lead to severe joint pain and joint inflammation due to the storage of the crystals in the joints, but also means an enormous additional burden on the kidneys, which ultimately provokes kidney damage and even kidney failure. Drinking field horsetail tea is therefore recommended as an accompanying measure in the treatment of gout.
The strongest flavon in field horsetail is certainly Kaempferol. The dye is used in a variety of medicinal ways, for example as a plant estrogen (phytoestrogen), since it is very similar in its effect to the female estrogen hormone. Accordingly, Kaempferol can also be used to treat typical women's ailments that are based on a fluctuating estrogen level in the female hormone balance. These include cycle disorders or menopausal symptoms such as postmenopausal osteoporosis. The latter is due to a falling estrogen level during menopause, which causes serious changes in the female skin, conjunctiva, hair and bone tissue. All in all, the Kaempferol in Ackerschachtelhalm has one
- heart strengthening,
- hormone regulating,
- and analgesic effect.
Many flavonoids consist of glycosidic compounds. This is understood to mean plant substances that are composed of an alcohol and a sugar. This also applies to saponins, which also belong to the glycosides and the field horsetail one
- cholesterol lowering,
- hormone stimulating
- and give expectorant properties.
The diuretic and at the same time anti-inflammatory effect is largely due to the plant's own saponins. In the field of gynecology, the hormone-stimulating effects of saponins are also valued.
As a derivative of silicon, silica has its immune-boosting effect. This comes from silicon cell-stimulating effect, which of course also affects the immune cells and thus ensures an improved immune response in the event of illness. The anti-inflammatory and disinfectant effect of silica can also be explained by a function that supports the immune system. However, they are much better known
- connective tissue tightening,
- vascular strengthening,
- hair strengthening,
- skin protecting,
- bone strengthening,
- nail strengthening
- and tooth-strengthening
Properties of silica. The function of silica or silicon as a structural component of body tissue is almost always important. For example, the plant substance provides more elasticity in the vascular and connective tissue structures. In this way, it not only protects the blood vessels from narrowing and associated diseases such as arteriosclerosis, varicose veins or circulatory disorders. Due to the increased elasticity of the connective tissue, typical signs of aging of the skin such as cellulite or wrinkles can be reduced. Especially menopausal women are increasingly suffering from connective tissue weakness.
In the hair, silica also ensures a healthier and stronger hair structure, which protects against hair loss and split ends. It also makes the fingernails stronger, which helps prevent brittle nails. The situation is very similar for the bones and teeth, which also depend on a healthy supply of silicon or silica.
Speaking of teeth and bones. The minerals in the field horsetail also contribute to dental and bone health. Classic minerals like
- and magnesium
have long been known for their effect on tooth and bone density. And hair, skin and fingernails also require a regular supply of the minerals mentioned, since they mainly consist of horny layers, which are particularly dependent on magnesium. Overall, the effect of potassium, calcium and magnesium on the body structures mentioned is explained by their ability to regulate cell growth, cell health and hormone balance. All three bodily processes play an important role in maintaining tooth, bone, skin, hair and nail tissue. In addition, the three minerals work
- regulating blood pressure,
- immune boosting,
- heart strengthening,
- strengthening muscles and nerves,
- stimulates the metabolism
- and soothing.
Not only the dyes in the field horsetail have a healing effect. Some aromatic substances from the group of phenolic acids also contribute to the medicinal properties of the plant. A Spanish study from 2013, for example, points to the antifungal potential of phenolic acids in Equisetum arvense. Thanks to a field horsetail extract, the researchers were able to successfully combat the Aspergillus flavus mold. This is also discussed as the cause of the so-called "Curse of the Pharaoh", a mysterious series of deaths that occurred in the archaeological teams responsible in the late 19th to early 20th centuries after the first opening of pharaoh tombs in the Egyptian Valley of the Kings occurred.
One assumes today a fatal mold poisoning of the affected team members by the mold Aspergillus, which spread over the millennia in the stagnant air of the burial chambers. The fungus secretes toxic toxins, especially aflatoxins, which can cause heart failure, bleeding from the kidneys and even cancer. Of course, a plant like the horsetail, which is so efficient against deadly fungal infections, is of particular interest to medicine.
To speak again about the health of blood and vessels, the phytosterols in the field horsetail make an important contribution here again. Because they resemble the body's own cholesterol, they are able to lower the cholesterol level in the blood. This in turn keeps the vessel walls in good condition and protects them from blood lipid deposits that can later lead to circulatory disorders or even arterial calcification. Certain phytosterols are also used therapeutically to treat skin irritation and itching.
Caution, risk of confusion: If you collect wild specimens of the plant, you should always pay close attention to really harvesting the field horsetail and not mistakenly harvesting the marsh horsetail. In contrast to its counterpart, which is used as a medicinal herb, the latter is poisonous and must therefore never be consumed! A distinction can be made between the two types of horsetail on the edge coloring of their nested hollow stem sections. In the field horsetail, these serrated edges are colored green, in the marsh horsetail more brown to black.
Application and dosage
You can either buy the field horsetail as a finished herb or collect it yourself from May to July. Only the young leaf shoots (not the mushroom-like spore shoots) of the plant are collected. The classic form of application is then that of the dried herb as tea. However, there are a number of other possible uses that we would also like to briefly introduce to you.
Field horsetail tea
Field horsetail can be used internally as a tea in a variety of ways. In addition to the best-known use for existing urinary tract infections, tea can also be used to purify the body or for existing menstrual or menopausal symptoms. Indeed, thanks to its high content of hormone-stimulating ingredients such as silica, field horsetail is a very important medicinal herb that, when used regularly, can regulate the female hormone balance.
The basic recipe
The following applies to the dosage of a basic recipe for field horsetail tea:
- Two tablespoons of horsetail come up
- 500 milliliters of tea water.
Boil the herbs together with the water and then let the whole thing steep for about 20 to 30 minutes. The herbs are then sieved and the tea is drunk throughout the day.
Tip: To reach specific areas of the skin in an external application, for example in the event of a wound or with existing skin complaints, the field horsetail is also often used for healing wraps. You can easily use the lukewarm tea and put the wraps in it. The pads are then placed on the affected skin for about 30 minutes. Incidentally, it should also be possible to treat bloating or kidney problems from the outside.
Kidney and bladder tea with horsetail
There are still some special tea blends with field horsetail for special occasions. This includes, for example, use in the case of very persistent kidney or bladder infections. Field horsetail can be combined very well with other, highly effective kidney herbs such as bearberry or nettle. You need one tablespoon of each for the herb mixture
- Field horsetail,
- Nettle leaves,
- and nasturtium.
Put the herb mixture in one and a half to two liters of cold water and let the tea boil well once. After a steeping period of ten minutes, strain the herbs and drink the tea in small sips throughout the day.
Field horsetail purifying tea
In addition to field horsetail, this tea contains other detoxifying herbs and is highly recommended during the implementation of a diet. Simply mix one teaspoon of each
- Field horsetail,
- Shepherd's purse,
- and ribwort
together and take one teaspoon per cup from the herbal mixture. Then pour 250 milliliters of water over the herbs. The brewing time for the tea is ten minutes before the herbs are filtered off and the tea is consumed in small sips. In total, you can drink three cups of this detoxification test per day.
Field horsetail tea for coughing up blood
The hemostatic and anti-irritant properties of field horsetail can also be used in tea form. An old prescription for coughing up blood proves this. To make this tea, take:
- 20 grams of horsetail,
- 20 grams of lungwort,
- and 20 grams of plantain.
Put a tablespoon of this herbal mixture in a cup of boiling water. Let the tea steep for ten minutes before filtering off the herbs. Three to four cups of this tea a day should alleviate the coughing up blood soon.
Hip bath with field horsetail
Equisetum arvense is often used for hip baths for venereal diseases, but also for bladder infections, prostate problems, rheumatism or varicose veins. For this purpose, add 50 grams of dried field horsetail to one liter of cold water.
Leave the herb base to stand overnight before filtering off the herbs the next day and adding the cold extract to the bath water. After a 45-minute hip bath, the symptoms usually subside quickly.
Field horsetail tinctures
Field horsetail tincture is also suitable for external use (for example in the case of circulatory disorders). However, the tincture can also be used internally, for example for inflammation of the urinary tract or other bacterial diseases. For this purpose, take about 30 drops of the tincture a day.
The basic recipe
- 50 grams of dried horsetail herb,
- 500 milliliters of vodka,
- a large screw jar
- and a dark bottle.
Put the dried herbs in the screw-top jar and then fill it up with the vodka. Let the tincture base ripen for four weeks on a bright window sill before filtering off the herbs. The tincture is then transferred to a dark bottle for further storage. The dark glass is important so that the sensitive active ingredients of the tincture are not destroyed by sunlight. It is best to store the bottle in a cool, dark place in the refrigerator.
This special recipe is said to have a particularly strengthening and vitalizing effect on weakened immune systems and infectious diseases. For this you need:
- 50 grams of horsetail,
- 50 grams of taiga root,
- 30 grams of barberry,
- 30 grams of marigold,
- 20 grams of nettle,
- 20 grams of pansies
- and a liter of vodka.
Pour the herbs into a screw-top jar as usual and then pour the vodka over them. The tincture base must be closed well for six weeks for maturation on the warm windowsill and shaken daily. After the herbs have been sieved and the tincture transferred to a dark bottle, it has a shelf life of around two years. If necessary, one to two teaspoons of the tincture are taken for strengthening each day.
Side effects and contraindications
It should be noted that horsetail should not be used due to its strong diuretic properties if there is excessive water retention due to heart or kidney failure. Here, the water build-up would only increase and thus provoke health-threatening complications. Also, the use of diuretic herbs should never take longer than six weeks, otherwise there will be an immense flushing out of nutrients in the body. Above all, a deficiency of vitamin B1 was frequently observed when the field horsetail was used intensively. This is particularly important for pregnant women, which is why they should refrain from using the field horsetail. (ma)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Miriam Adam, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
- Ramos, Antonio Javier; Marin, Sonia et al. "Equisetum arvense hydro-alcoholic extract: phenolic composition and antifungal and antimycotoxigenic effect against Aspergillus flavus and Fusarium verticillioides in stored maize."; in: Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Volume93, Issue9, July 2013, Pages 2248-2253, wiley.com
- Gerhard Madaus: "Textbook of Biological Remedies", Leipzig 1938
- Pallag, Annamaria et al. "Equisetum arvense L. Extract Induces Antibacterial Activity and Modulates Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Apoptosis in Endothelial Vascular Cells Exposed to Hyperosmotic Stress."; in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity Volume 2018, hindawi.com