(Equisetum arvense L.)
Common horsetail is a perennial plant found worldwide except in Australia. It belongs to the horsetail family (Equisetaceae), and its name probably comes from the fact that, when rubbed, a characteristic crunching (grinding) sound can be heard due to its silica content. What has made common horsetail, considered a weed, gain our appreciation?
Chwoszcz, chwoszczka, jedlinka polna, skrzypka, sprzęstka, krzemionka, jodełka, kostka bądź koński ogon – yes, these are all the names for common horsetail known in Poland.
Until recently, in Poland, common horsetail was a very widespread, troublesome weed found in fields, meadows, riverbanks and roadsides. However, in recent years, due to the increased use of herbicides, soil deacidification and improvement of its physical properties and meliorative work, it is found somewhat less frequently. During its growth, common horsetail produces two types of shoots: in early spring, infertile shoots that, after producing the spores, die, and fertile shoots which emerge somewhat later. The latter can reach up to 40 cm tall in good soil conditions. Common horsetail is easy to recognise because it differs greatly from the common plant; summer horsetail shoots resemble miniature Christmas trees.
The raw material used for phytotherapy is common horsetail herb.
During the whole summer, the tops of fertile shoots with their delightful light green colour are harvested as herbaceous material, and this is the so-called common horsetail herb. Common horsetail shoots are cut above the ground, discarding those with brown rust spots, and then dried under natural conditions, in shady and ventilated areas. The major role common horsetail plays in treatments and cosmetics is associated with its high content of silica compounds that are important to the body.It also contains flavonoids, saponins, organic acids, phytosterols, mineral compounds and vitamins.
So much power in one tiny plant – that is how it has gained our recognition!
Common horsetail herb, thanks to its flavonoids, increases the volume of urine and removes the excess of urates from the body, and it is therefore used as a diuretic agent in mild renal and urinary tract diseases. In addition, it purifies the body from harmful metabolic by-products. It also has a mild spasmolytic effect on the bile ducts and urinary tract, counteracts oedema and improves cardiac function, and water-soluble silica found in the herb affects many metabolic processes in the body. Common horsetail preserves also demonstrate a beneficial effect on the metabolism and compensate for the deficiency of other elements, such as potassium and magnesium.
The beneficial effects of common horsetail on the skin, hair and nails have been known for a very long time.
Soluble silica is easily absorbed and assimilated in the body. Silicon compounds maintain optimum elasticity of the epidermis, mucous membranes and connective tissue and seal the blood vessel walls.Silicon is also involved in collagen synthesis. For this reason, common horsetail preserves are particularly recommended for firming and regenerating beauty products. Common horsetail preparations, as a natural source of silica, are also ideal for hair and nail strengthening treatments.
Four things about common horsetail to interest your friends.
- Common horsetail is closely related to trees that grew on the earth some 250 to 300 million years ago during the Precambrian period and contributed to the development of today’s coal deposits!
- The healing properties of common horsetail were already known in ancient times, and Pedanius Dioscorides and Pliny the Elder described its ability to stop bleeding.
- Worldwide there are 50 species of horsetail, and in Poland there are only nine, but only one, namely common horsetail, is considered medicinal.
Common horsetail has played an important role in phytotherapy, and its pro-health impact on the body has been known for centuries: already in the sixteenth century, common horsetail was described in detail by Paracelsus and Matthias.