Horsetail grows from a multi-annual rhizome that is very branched and up to 50 cm deep. In the spring, subterranean buds of the past year develop, with up to 100, 000 spores per trunk, non-photosynthetic plant stems.
Only after these fertile stems have withered do the characteristic spore-free shoots of the horsetail grow. The 10 - 90 cm long sterile stems, with 3 - 5 mm diameter and about 2 - 5 cm long movable segments, reach a stature height of up to 50 cm. Horsetail prefers moist soil on arable and grassland.
Once established, however, the plant is resistant to drought and prone to invasive growth, which is why it is also treated as a weed. At the same time horsetail is an indicator of poor soil tillage.
Except for field horsetail, all other horsetail species are poisonous. Field horsetail contains several substances that are treated with medication.
The plant is rich in the minerals silicon (10%), potassium and calcium as well as flavonoids, vegetable acids, saponoids and glycosides. In particular, these ingredients have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action. Horsetail has the ability to accumulate gold as well as cadmium, copper, lead and zinc in its tissue.
The accumulation of silicic acid deposits in the stems gives the horsetail its rough and rough texture. Historically, horsetail has therefore been used to polish metal, especially tin. Therefore, the name horsetail derived. European horsetail contains the anti-allergy compound quercetin, which is generally not included in North America and Asia. In addition, the plant has low levels of nicotine.
For processing in teas, tinctures and wrappings as well as in cosmetics (active substance collagen), the upper 2/3 of the infertile plant shoots are dried, cut and pulverized. In order to produce a horsetail extract, the herb is boiled and cooked to dissolve the silica. The cooled essence is filtered and can be mixed, for example, to make a healing ointment with a wool-based alcohol-based cream.
Horsetail preparations are available as capsules or in medicinal plant combinations as tablets, dragees or drops. In Asia, the buds prepared as vegetables are considered a delicacy. Extracts from field horsetail provide an effective fungicide to combat starry soot and rust on roses and mint. In biodynamic farming, horsetail is used to enrich the soil with silicon, which reduces the effects of waterlogging on the plants.
Horsetail is known as one of the most valuable vegetable sources of silica. Already Roman and Greek medicine knew the effectiveness of the prehistoric plant and traditionally used horsetail to stop bleeding, heal ulcers and wounds and treat tuberculosis and kidney disease. The natural silicon strengthens the bones and protects the skin from wrinkling.
It has a strengthening effect on the connective tissue, is anti-inflammatory, skin-tightening, circulation-promoting and astringent. A horsetail rinse is also suitable for the care of greasy hair. The improvement in bone density demonstrated by a medical study is due to the fact that the silica in the body converts to calcium. Horsetail is traditionally used as a diuretic to rid the body of excess urine excretion from excess fluid.
Applications relate to the treatment of kidney and bladder stones, urinary tract infections, incontinence and general kidney or bladder disorders. Almost every herbal preparation for dehydration now contains components of horsetail. Horsetail is a clinically proven antioxidant used in the treatment of edema, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
A clinical study conducted in 2010 showed that horsetail extract can suppress free radicals and cancer cell growth. In home medicine, horsetail is used for the treatment of chronic coughing as well as direct application of cooked herbs for the healing of arthritis and rheumatism.