Horsetail, otherwise known as equisetum, snake grass, or puzzle grass, is an ancient medicinal plant with wellness properties that have been utilized since the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans. It’s known as a “living fossil” for how long it’s survived on this planet. Believe it or not, this plant even precedes dinosaurs!
In modern times, this plant is used in a surprising variety of ways, ranging from medicine to skincare, to nail strengthening. Among the many benefits of horsetail, here are the top five to know—some of which are the main reasons it’s an ingredient in different products.
1. Helps Hair Growth
Horsetail has been observed to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss in both men and women. The high silicon content in the plant is a common additive in hair growth and strengthening products. It’s also a great source of selenium, a mineral that is known to promote hair growth.
In a study on thinning hair, horsetail helped improve hair growth, thickness, and volume in participants. Its effects look very promising, and it’s included in many natural hair remedies.
2. Strengthens Nails
Horsetail is a common ingredient in nail strengtheners, whether applied directly on the nails or taken in an oral supplement. The high content of silicon in this plant is what makes it so effective for strong nails, skin, and hair. In fact, horsetail is one of the plants with the highest silicon content on earth.
Silicon is not to be confused with silicone. The latter is an artificial substance used for medical purposes such as plastic surgery, while the former is a naturally occurring substance. It’s 100% natural, so don’t get scared off by the chemical-sounding name.
To reduce grooves in your nails and prevent splitting, consider trying a horsetail ointment or supplement.
3. Nourishes Skin
If you’re always checking ingredient labels, you’ve probably encountered horsetail in many cosmetics and skincare products. That’s because horsetail has been observed to have antibacterial properties that help calm inflammation. Horsetail also contains antioxidants, which help to boost the body’s immune system, thereby potentially reducing your risk for bacterial infections that lead to acne.
Because horsetail is high in silicon, which is a component of collagen, it is also thought to help keep your skin firm and smooth. It’s commonly used in anti-aging creams, to keep the skin looking bright, smooth, and youthful while reducing the appearance of wrinkles. It’s not a proven remedy for acne, but it holds promise when promoting collagen growth and soothing inflamed skin.
4. Heals and Relieves Burns
Horsetail’s historic use in the time of the ancient Romans was for wound care and pain treatment. While the effectiveness of these ancient remedies is, of course, unknown, horsetail is still known as a promising additive in many burn ointments and healing creams.
One related, interesting medical purpose of horsetail involves using horsetail for treating osteoporosis in menopausal women. The high silicon content helps to strengthen bones and tissues.
5. Promotes Diuresis
Horsetail acts as a diuretic, which is a substance that rids your body of sodium and water, usually by promoting urine production. Common diuretics are coffee, hibiscus tea, and caffeinated drinks. People trying to flush chemicals or toxins out of their body, such as marijuana before a drug test, opt for a horsetail detox. The diuretic properties are helpful to flush out excess fluids, while the antioxidant properties help to decrease inflammation.
Additionally, many people have tried horsetail in weight loss supplements. The antioxidants and diuretic properties support a weight loss program by reducing liquids in the body, decreasing inflammation, and helping to eliminate bloating.
This list barely scratches the surface. Horsetail may be an ancient plant, but its uses still are being studied and discovered all the time.