Monday, February 23, 2009

Equisetum arvense L.

English Name : Common Horsetail. Shave-grass. Bottle-brush. Paddock-pipes. Dutch Rushes and Pewterwort

Family : Equisetaceae

The stems spring from a creeping rhizome, or root-stock, which produces at its joints a number of roots, they are erect, jointed, brittle and grooved, hollow except at the joints and with air-cells in their walls under the grooves. There are no leaves, the joints terminating in toothed sheathes, the teeth corresponding with the ridges and representing leaves. Branches, if present, arise from the sheathbases and are solid. It bears a terminal cone-like catkin, consisting of numerous closely-packed peltae, upon the under margins of which are the sporanges, containing microscopic spores, attached to elastic threads, which are coiled round the spore when moist and uncoil when dry.

Wet areas of many parts of the globe including Great Britain, the Arctic, Sicily, Iran and China.

Parts Used : Barren, summer stems

Herb Effects
The plant is anodyne, antihaemorrhagic, antiseptic, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, galactogogue, haemostatic, vulnerary, improves elasticity of and strengthens ligaments, antiiaging and promotes blood coagulation.

Active Ingredients
Ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, bita-sitosterol, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, gallic acid, isoquercitrin, kaempferol, luteolin, mallic acid, naringenin, niacin, nicotine, p-coumaric acid, silicic acid, silicone, saponins and flavonoids.

Medicinal Use
Lower back problems (related to the musculoskeleton) and rheumatism. Horsetail is found beneficial in dropsy, gravel and kidney affections. The ashes of the plant are considered very valuable in acidity of the stomach, dyspepsia, etc. Besides being useful in kidney and bladder trouble, a strong decoction acts as an emmenagogue; being cooling and astringent, it is of efficacy for haemorrhage, cystic ulceration and ulcers in the urinary passages. The decoction applied externally will stop the bleeding of wounds and quickly heal them, and will also reduce the swelling of eyelids. Horsetails have an unusual chemistry compared to most other plants.

Contraindicated in cardiac or renal dysfunction. The herb in powdered form is not recommended for children or for prolonged use due to the inorganic silica content though decoctions contain mainly organic silica in colloidal form so are not problematic in this reaged. Toxicity is reported to be similar to nicotene poisoning in children who have chewed the stem.

Infusion of 1 tsp of crushed drug/cup boiling water consumed 3 times per day (by itself or with other herbs (below)) (as a diuretic); infusion (up to a few hours) of 2 tbsp of drug/liter waters consumed as 4 to 5 cups per day (for musculoskeletal maladies).
Dried Herb: 1 – 4 gm tds.
Liquid Extract: 1:1 25 % 1 – 4 ml.
Tincture: 1:5 25% 2 – 6 ml.


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