Horsetail tea is made from the medicinal plant from the Equisetum arvense species. It is very commonly used as a home remedy to treat fluid retention, for weight loss, and to strengthen the bones. Due to its anti-inflammatory and diuretic effects, horsetail can also be used to help with treatment of kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
Horsetail tea prepared with the dry stem of the plant is the method most used to consume the plant. It can be found in natural health stores and in some compound pharmacies. Horsetail can also be found in capsule form.
Although it has several diverse health benefits, horsetail use can also cause side effects, especially if it is used in high doses or for over a week. It can lead to a strong headache or pancreatitis. Therefore, use should always be guided by a doctor or a health professional with experience in medicinal plants.
Horsetail contains diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, healing and re-mineralizing properties. Therefore it can be used to achieve many health benefits.
The main used of horsetail are:
1. Improve the appearance of hair, nails and skin
The silica present in horsetail can reduce fragility and the appearance of waves in the fingernails. It also increases the hydration and strengthens fingernails, which helps to improve their overall appearance.
In addition, horsetail also as astringent, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which contribute to the improvement of skin quality. It fights off free radicals that cause cellular damage and cause early aging, and also helps to reduce oil in the skin and prevent the appearance of acne.
2. Treat fluid retention
Horsetail possess diuretic effects due to its high amounts of flavonoids, like quercetin e apigenin, phenolic compounds and mineral salts, all which help to increase the production and elimination of fluid through the urine. This treats swelling and fluid retention.
One study shows that taking one daily dose of 900mg of horsetail in capsule form has a diuretic effect that is actually more potent than a pharmaceutic diuretic, like hydrochlorothiazide. Nonetheless, more studies are needed to support this effect.
Check out other natural diuretics that you can prepare at home to manage water retention.
3. Help with weight loss
Horsetail helps with weight loss due to its composition of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, detox substances and diuretics, like flavonoids and caffeic acid. These substances help to burn localized fat and help with the elimination of fluids that can cause weight gain.
In addition, caffeic acid found in horsetail has a thermogenic effect, which helps to boost metabolism and burn fat, ultimately leading to weight loss.
Learn about other weight loss teas that can help boost metabolism and increase fat burning naturally, when used as part of a healthy, active lifestyle.
4. Treat urinary infections
Due to its diuretic effect, horsetail can be useful for treating urinary infections and other renal or urinary problems, like cystitis or nephritis. This is because by stimulating the elimination of urine, this plan will also promote the elimination of bacteria that are causing these illnesses through the urinary tract.
See the other teas for UTIs that you can use as a compliment to your medical treatment.
5. Decrease blood pressure
Horsetail helps to decrease blood pressure due to its diuretic effect, which increases the elimination of fluid from the body. This results in a reduction is fluid in the blood vessels, which also decreases the force at which the heart has to against to pump blood, decreasing blood pressure.
6. Maintain bone health
Horsetail is rich in minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, which are minerals that are fundamental for strengthening the bones and maintaining their health.
In addition, some lab studies show that horsetail can prevent the breakdown of bones and actually stimulate their growth and regeneration. This prevents the development of illnesses like osteoporosis, osteopenia and Ricketts, for example.
Other studies show that due to its high levels of silica, horsetail can also improve the formation, density and consistency of bones and cartilage, as well as increase the synthesis of collagen and improve the absorption of calcium in the bones.
Nonetheless, more studies are needed to support these benefits.
7. Eliminate fungi and bacteria
Some studies show that horsetail contains essential oils like thymol and cineole, which are able to eliminate fungi (especially skin fungus, like Candida sp.) and bacteria like:
- Escherichia coli which causes urinary infections, and
- Staphylococcus aureus which causes lung, skin and bone infections.
More studies are necessary to support this benefit, however.
How to make horsetail tea
Horsetail tea is the main way to consume this plant. It is made with a dry stem, and can be used as a diuretic to complement the treatment of urinary infections, to lose weight, or to treat high blood pressure.
- 1 tablespoon of dried horsetail stem
- 1 cup of boiling water
How to prepare
Place the dried stem in the boiling water and allow it to soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain the infusion and drink up to 2 cups per day, ideally after the first meals of the day.
This tea should not be used for more than 1 week in a row to prevent dehydration and the elimination of essential minerals in the body.
Other ways to use horsetail
In addition to tea, horsetail can also be found in 100mg capsules. They can be taken after breakfast and lunch, but they should only be taken under medical supervision or with guidance from a health care professional with experience in medicinal plants.
Another way to use horsetail is to use it in a sitz bath for the treatment of urinary infections. To make a sitz bath, place 3 handfuls of dried horsetail stems in bathwater and sit in the water for 5 to 10 minutes. Learn about other home remedies and sitz baths you can try to treat vaginal infections.
Possible side effects
Horsetail is safe for use in the majority of adults when it is consumed for short periods of time (up to one week), or if it is consumed as directed by a doctor, registered dietitian or medicinal plant specialist.
Nonetheless, when it is taken in high doses for a long time, it can lead to the loss of important minerals in the body, which can result in diarrhea, strong headaches, dehydration, weight loss, pancreatitis, changes in cardiac conductivity and muscular weakness.
Contraindications for use
Horsetail is not recommended for use by pregnant women or breastfeeding women, nor by people with a history of cardiac failure, low blood pressure and kidney disease. Horsetail can decrease the body's ability to decrease blood pressure and has a strong diuretic effect.