When was the last time you went for a walk in the forest to unravel its therapeutic mysteries? Amongst a myriad of medicinal wild plants, one of the most ancient sage plants has been growing wild on earth, long before the human race existed. As archeological evidence suggests, the tenacious Horsetail, or Equisetum, is considered a living fossil, one that gives us more benefits than we might imagine. Let’s take a closer look at our old friend.
Horsetail likes to grow where there is a stream nearby, so if you’re in a damp, low line area, you might be lucky to meet one of these wisdom teachers of the natural world. You’ll see that the shape and structure in which they grow makes them very unique and different from any other plants in the world. Horsetails don’t produce any flowers, it is a gymnosperm plant – and therefore has a very unique way of reproducing. Indeed, this miracle of Mother Nature has flowering heads which then produce spores in spring. According to renowned herbalist Matthew Woods, the doctrine of signatures suggests that the shape of the plant always has a little something to say about how it works in the body. With regards to Horsetail, if you break it apart, it comes off in little segments which suggest that it helps with our joints. But this is only one of the many ways you can know the magnificent herb.
With an amazing skeletal structure and jointed segments we know that horsetail can be used in strengthening and healing joints, bones and the connective tissue. If you observe the plant, its very physical quality brings up the idea of the human cartilage in our minds. It is famous for having a high content of silica that not only aids in the musculoskeletal system but it also strengthens weak nails and hair.
Herbalists like to make tinctures and oils from horsetail, as it can indeed be applied externally or internally to help in strengthening our arteries and veins. One can see how the strong stems of horsetail relate to the various channels of the body.
About five hundred million years ago, known in history as the carboniferous period, horsetail used to grow well below and above the ground. It could grow down to thousands of feet into the seabed and up to 30 meters tall above the ground. It was a giant dominator back then. And today is it still with us, with an incredible amount of nutrients that can benefit the human body.
As culinary foragers find many wonders in the wild, our ancient herbalists even chewed on raw horsetail freshly picked from the forest. If you want to try this, you can chew on a tiny bit of the herb and spit it out. This will change the ecology of the mouth and helps to strengthen the tissues. Don’t eat too much as any herb that tastes strong can tell you that it should only be eaten in small amounts.
Now, one shouldn’t forget that the medicine of horsetail has been used throughout the days of medieval medicine practitioners, from the ancient Chinese, into Greece and all the way into most of Europe and North America. There is a lot of essential chi in this herb and it is therefore advised not to be consumed for prolonged periods of time.
Being “the only living examples of the Equisetopsida class which formed the major part of the understory of the great Paleozoic forests”, it is wonder that a plant like this has survived only to remind us of Mother Nature’s gifts to humanity.
Preparing Horsetail medicinal tea
Now let’s get to the tasting part. You can prepare a horsetail tea, as an infusion or decoction. It is recommended by herbalists to consume horsetail for no more than two months for cleansing, strengthening and rebuilding of tissues.
You may even use the silica in horsetail as a bath. It can be taken internally or externally as silica is water soluble.
Helpful Horsetail Potions
Horsetail vinegar is easy to make by steeping the herb in apple cider vinegar for a month to six weeks. After straining the mixture you can enjoy the horsetail vinegar with salads. This is a particularly useful method for extracting minerals from a wide variety of herbs.
Herbalists like to use horsetail in the form of poultice and essential oil too, in which case it they say, it can even help us our communications and relationships.
1.Wood, Matthew. The book of herbal wisdom: using plants as medicine. North Atlantic Books, 1998.
2.“Horsetail – Ancient Wonder, Modern Medicine.” Whispering Earth, 12 June 2010.
3.Vanneste, Kevin, et al. “Horsetails Are Ancient Polyploids: Evidence from Equisetum giganteum.” The Plant Cell, American Society of Plant Biologists, June 2015.