I've known about Horsetail for quite some time. I've given it to dozens of clients in my practice, read about it in numerous books, and used it to help rebuild my skin and hair that had become damaged during a severe bout of eczema when I lived in New York City.
You can read about herbs all day long, but you never really get to know them the same way as you do when you find them growing in the wild. This was my experience with Horsetail. Yesterday, on the way to a Nettles festival, we were rained out and, instead, drove to the charming town of New Paltz to visit the independent bookstore and organic chocolate shop. It was next to the chocolate shop that we found a fantastic trail that herbalists call the "Green Treasure Chest" - an old railroad track!
Oh, how it glowed bright green against the grey, wet Spring sky! It first appeared to us as a small patch of tiny Pine trees until we looked closer and noticed it was more of a succulent than the hard and sharp needles of Pine. It stood about one foot tall and broke quite easily from the ground. Its stem is hard, and reseembles a bamboo - with a significantly smaller circumference than bamboo (less than 1/4"). It's hair-like shoots grow in circles around the stem and look like spider legs as they wilt. These circles grow an inch apart up the stem. The entire plants glows a beautiful, bright green and looks like wispy hair blowing in the breeze.
Horsetail is a prehistoric plant dating back to the dinosaur era. During that time, the plant was said to be the size of modern day giant Pine trees, however, in today's world, these plants only reach four feet in height. Horsetail is a renowned herb for hair growth, bone health, and skin health. This is because Silica, a collagen generating mineral, makes up over 35% of the plant's biochemistry. This means that Horsetail is a great herb for stengthening the hard structures in our body like connective tissues, bones, cartilage, nails, and even the soft places like bone collagen, mucus membranes, and our skin.
According to Matthew Wood, the connective tissues in the bladder can become inflammed and irritated due to silica depletion. This makes Horsetail a fantastic remedy for bladder infections and the like. Gail Faith Edwards also says that Horsetail's collagen generating properties are only effective when the herb is dried and infused in water rather than in tincture form. Based on my experience with the herb I would agree with her. It's also important to understand that minerals are released when great amounts of heat are applied to them. Tincturing an herb in alcohol can effectively heal by capturing the plant's spirit, essence, chemical continuents, and some nutrients but an infusion is far more saturated in minerals than a tincture is going to be. If you're looking to build your bones, revitalize your hair and skin, or simply increase your mineral intake I would mix 2 tablespoons each of Horsetail, Nettles, Comfrey, and Peppermint into a 4C jar and top it with boiling water, allowing to steep overnight and strain in the morning. Drink 2-4 cups of that infusion each day for, at least, six weeks.
When harvesting Horsetail, one must be sure to catch it within the first six weeks of growth in early Spring. Horsetail is saturated in Silica and, as it matures, it becomes more and more concentrated in this mineral. Though Silica is responsible for this herb's healing properties, too much Silica can be toxic to the body. It is because of this that the young shoots are the most effective and safest to ingest. Hang Horsetail from the ceiling out of direct sunlight, or dry on screens. Store in an air-tight glass mason jar once its dried.
Go outside and see if this beautiful, ancient plant is growing near your home. If not, be sure to look around roadsides, landscaped parking lots, and railroad tracks. It loves to grow in all of these areas. Pick it up, inspect it, and hold it to feel its prehistoric energy. Imagine the forests, once made up mostly of this beautiful plant. See what it has to offer you and drink it into your body. Watch it transform your blood, hair, skin, and bones. Feel it strengthening your skeleton while adding flexibility to your joints and bones.
Aemen and I will be leading herb walks and showing those interested how to find and harvest Nettles, Burdock, Dandelion, Chicory, Red Clover, Yarrow, Horsetail, Motherwort, and many other local herbs and medicinal plants.
Have a wonderful day!