Equisetum arvense

A creeping, perenial with hairy rhizomes, with both sterile and fertile hollow, jointed stems that are impregnated with silica in the longitudinal groves. The fertile stems are brown and shorter than the sterile stems and die off after spore dispersal. the cones are 10-40mm long. The sterile stems are green with between 6-19 sheaths. The branches arrange themselves in whorls. The whole plant dies back in winter.

Family: Equisetaceae

Which probiotic is it in?: Horsetail is a key herb in Fitness

Habit and cultivation: Native to Europe, found growing in damp, wet regions and sometimes referred to as ‘cosmopolitan weeds’. Recorded as a noxious weed, it spreads quickly, is difficult to irradicate and due to the high silica content in the stems, it destroys the teeth of the stock that eat it.

Actions (known for): Astringent, Anti-haemorrhagic, Diuretic


This herb is the only living example (living fossil), which formed the major part of the understory of the great Paleozoic forests, that covered the land for 100 million years, roughly 542-541 million years ago. Historically used to ease the bowels, chilblains, rheumatic, arthritic and skin problems and in Germany used to stop gastric bleeding. Whistles made from the stems were known to call snakes to the musician. Used in fertility mixes, or placed in the bedroom for this purpose. In Ayurvedic medicine it is used to clear Pitta and fiery emotions from the nerves and mind.

Parts used:

The sterile aerial parts, harvested mid to late summer.

Constituents (bio available chemicals):

Saponin – equisetonin, Alkaloids, Flavonoids, Phytosterols, Silicic acid 5-8% Silicon.

Nutritional constituents:


Provides strength and flexibility to the connective tissues of the body including cartilage, tendons, skin, joints, bone, teeth, and blood vessels. Silica is essential in the formation of collagen. It has been used for centuries to support the repair of the body. Also used to strengthen weak nails and hair. Commonly used to assist in urinary tract disorders including chronic cystitis, incontinence and bedwetting. Can be used externally on wounds to stop bleeding and reduce recovery and repair time. Reduces swelling in swollen eyelids.


Dried herb: 3-12 grams daily. Liquid extract (1-2): 20-40ml per week

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia

Cautions for therapeutic doses

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