Horsetail: Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

Horsetail: Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects


Horsetail, once just a popular fern plant, has been used for its medicinal purposes as an herbal remedy for centuries. It’s believed to have multiple health and beauty boosting properties that improve hair, skin, immune and bone health.

This article will dive into the benefits, uses, and side effects of horsetail. 

What is Horsetail?

Horsetail is a plant commonly known as equisetum arvense or puzzlegrass, It’s a fern that belongs to a specific family of plants called equisetaceae. Grown wildly in moist and temperate climates such as Northern Europe and America, it looks similar to asparagus or a mane’s tail.

Horsetail contains a number of health boosting compounds such as antioxidants and a concentrated amount of silica.

These antioxidants are molecules in the body that fight free radicals such as stress to prevent cell damage, which give its health boosting benefits. Also found in the body is silica, a compound made of silicon and oxygen, which gives horsetail its beauty boosting benefits for skin, nails, and hair. 

Horsetail can be dried into a tea and ingested when steeped with hot water. Horsetail can also be found in supplements like Wholy Dose – taken to prevent aging skin, bone deterioration, hair loss, balding, and weak nails.


Horsetail is an herb that contains many benefitting properties, such as antioxidants and silica, for health and beauty boosting benefits. It can be found in tea and supplement forms. 

Benefits of Horsetail 

Horsetail has been used as an herbal remedy for centuries, with current scientific research and studies supporting its health and beauty benefits. 

1. Bone Health

Recent studies and research show that horsetail aids in the healing of bones. 

Like your body, bone cells called osteoclasts and osteoblasts are continuously remodeling themselves to avoid imbalances that could cause brittle bones – especially with age. 

Several studies show that horsetail supplements may inhibit osteoclasts and stimulate osteoblasts – proving its benefits as a use for bone diseases like osteoporosis (a condition with overly active osteoclasts that result in fragile bones). 

Horsetail is the richest source of silica, with up to 25% of its dry weight being silica. No other plant includes such a high concentration of silica. Further, scientists believe that horsetail’s bone boosting benefits are due to its high silica content.

Silica, which is also present in bones, pairs with collagen in the body to improve the formation, density, and consistency of bone and cartilage tissue through the production of collagen – increasing the body’s ability to absorb calcium.

2. A Natural Diuretic

A diuretic is a substance that increases your body’s ability to pee. 

The natural diuretic found in horsetail is one that has been sought after for years, especially in folk medicine. In fact, one study of 36 health men found that taking a daily 900 mg capsule of dried horsetail extract had a greater diuretic effect than a classic diuretic drug due to the high antioxidant and mineral salt concentrations found in horsetail. 

3. Wound Healing & Nail Health

When applied topically, horsetail ointment has been shown to promote wound healing. 

A ten day study of 108 postpartum women who had experienced a surgical cut during labor (also known as an episiotomy) revealed that applying an ointment containing 3% horsetail extract aidied in wound healing and the relief of pain, while also significantly reducing wound redness, swelling and discharge. From this study, scientists concluded that these positive effects were due to horsetail’s high silica content.

In addition to wound healing, horsetail extract can also be used in nail polish as a treatment for nail psoriasis – a skin condition causing nail deformities.In a study using nail polish mixed with horsetail extract and other nail-hardening agents, a decrease in nail psoriasis was also found. 

When taken in the form of a supplement, horsetail helps nail growth, reduces brittle nails and nail breakage, and improves overall nail health.

4. Hair Growth

Studies also show that horsetail can benefit your hair due to its high silica and antioxidant contents.

The antioxidants work to help reduce aging hair fibers and micro-inflammation caused by free radicals in the body, while the increase in silica throughout hair fibers result in lower levels of hair loss, and increased brightness and shine. 

One 3-month study in women with hair thinning found that taking two dried horsetail capsules daily resulted in increased hair growth and strength when compared to the control group. Other studies that also tested the effect of different blends of horsetail-derived silica found similar results.

Other Potential Benefits

Horsetail is also known for providing many other benefits, such as:

– Anti-inflammatory: Studies show that horsetail extract inhibits lymphocytes, the main type of cells involved in inflammatory immune diseases.

– Antimicrobial, Reducing Bacteria: Horsetail, when used as essential oil, works against bacteria and fungi, including Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Aspergillus niger, and Candida albicans.

– Antioxidant: Studies also show that horsetail is rich in phenolic compounds, a group of powerful antioxidants that cause oxidative damage to cell membranes.  

– Antidiabetic: Studies found that horsetail extract can lower blood sugar levels and recreate damaged pancreatic tissue. 


Horsetail has many benefits including improved bone, hair, skin, and nail health.

Dosage and Uses 

Most horsetail products are used for skin, hair, and nail results like Wholy Dose’s horsetail supplement powders that are combined with collagen and biotin.

There is no official claim for horsetail dosage, however one study prescribed taking 900 mg of horsetail supplements as the daily dose, which is also the maximum dosage recommended per the European Medicines Agency. 


Horsetail is used for it’s skin, hair, nail, and health benefits. Dosage can be determined per supplement serving size or from your doctor.

Side Effects And Precautions

Horsetail is deemed safe to take by the FDA.

Talk with your doctor if you are taking another medication, are pregnant, nursing, or have a medical condition before taking horsetail. Because there aren’t enough studies on horsetail usage while pregnant or breastfeeding women, always consult your doctor before taking it.

As for it’s side effects, horsetail may cause drug-herb interactions when taken alongside an antiretroviral drug, such as those prescribed for HIV. Horsetail also contains natural sources of nicotine, and should be avoided if you have an allergy or are trying to quit smoking.

Lastly, an excess of horsetail can be found to have thiaminase enzymes, which break down thiamine or vitamin B1. Those who are suffering from low levels of thiamine (commonly experienced in alcohol abuse disorders) may lead to lower levels of vitamin B1. 


Horsetail is an herbal remedy and you should consult your doctor before using it if you are on medication, have a medical condition, are pregnant or breastfeeding, have low levels of vitamin B1, or take antiretroviral drugs. 

Horsetail: In Conclusion

Horsetail has been used as an herbal remedy for centuries.

It is used for its skin, hair, nail, bone, and immune benefits and can be taken in the form of tea, supplements, and tinctures. 

Horsetail is deemed safe to consume but always consult your doctor before using if you are on medication, have a medical condition, are pregnant or breastfeeding, have low levels of vitamin B1, or take antiretroviral drugs. 

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