Benefits of Horsetail Extract for Hair, Skin, and Nails
By: Emily Mahler
August 8, 2018
- Horsetail is the most abundant plant source of silica, and has been used since ancient times as an herbal remedy to treat inflammation, edema, ulcers, bleeding, kidney stones, and more.
- Horsetail is a rich source of flavonoids, potassium, and silicon, which are all necessary for growing tissues for the skin, hair, and nails.
- Read on to learn about the benefits of horsetail, and how this herb can support your hair, skin, and nails.
Much to the frustration of gardeners, horsetail (Equisetum arvensis) takes over anywhere it grows. But, turns out, the benefits of horsetail extract may be worth the struggle because of its many uses — especially for hair, skin, and nails. It provides the most abundant plant source of the mineral silica, and has been used since ancient times to treat inflammation, edema, ulcers, bleeding, kidney stones, and more.
Because of its high silica content, horsetail helps promote the formation of collagen, which improves skin, hair, and nails. In other words, horsetail can help keep hair full, lustrous, and strong, and skin supple.
Warning: Make sure you use Equisetum arvense when choosing a species. Other species of horsetail like (E. palusture) can be poisonous.
Read on to learn how to use horsetail extract for stronger nails, fuller hair and more youthful skin.
What is horsetail?
Horsetail is a perennial plant that grows wild in swamps, marshes, and other wet areas throughout North America and other continents in the northern hemisphere. It resembles — you guessed it — a horse’s tail when it grows, which is how it got its name. Other names for horsetail include Bottle Brush and Scouring Rush, because it was used to scour metal pots in ancient times. It’s a sterile plant and reproduces with spores instead of seeds.
What are the benefits of horsetail extract?
A number of studies support the use of horsetail extract for its benefits to the liver, as well as for its diuretic, antibacterial, and antioxidant effects.
Anti-inflammatory: Horsetail contains many beneficial nutrients and minerals, including silica, calcium, potassium, and flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Several of these components have been reported for anti-inflammatory activity. Controlling inflammation helps reduce muscle and joint pain, and protects against diseases like heart disease, gum disease, and even certain types of cancer.
Supports collagen and hair growth: Horsetail contains 5-8% silica, which is crucial for the formation of collagen. Collagen is the connective tissue that keeps skin strong and bouncy. Silica helps regenerate the connective tissue in your bones, skin, hair, and nails. It also stimulates the absorption of calcium in your bones, so you can store more as you age, allowing your body to regenerate and heal more quickly.
Horsetail extract for hair, skin, and nails
Our skin is unique in that it can tell us what’s happening in our bodies. A vitamin deficiency or illness, for instance, shows up in the appearance of our hair, skin, and nails. Dry hair, skin rashes, and brittle nails are all signs that something needs attention inside. Silica bonds with minerals and brings them to the areas of the body that need support.
Strengthens nails: As we age, the level of silica in your body decreases and causes brittle hair and nails. Silica supports the biosynthesis of collagen, which is the main component of connective tissue.
Promotes hair growth: In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study (basically, the gold standard of studies), women with thinning hair used a horsetail product for 180 days and saw positive results. Their hair volume, scalp coverage, and hair thickness improved, as well as hair shine.
Keeps skin youthful: In the same double-blind study above, those using horsetail also reported skin moisture retention and skin smoothness — science speak for plumper, stronger skin — with fewer noticeable wrinkles.
Read on to find out how to make your own at-home horsetail tinctures, teas, and hair rinses.
Horsetail for wounds and bleeding
Horsetail was traditionally used to stop bleeding and to support wound healing. In this double-blind clinical trial, 108 first-time moms were assessed for healing and pain reduction after having an episiotomy. With 54 women in each group, an assessment of the baseline showed no significant difference in the amount of pain and wound healing five days after the procedure. They were assessed again at the ten-day mark and saw a significant reduction in pain and increased healing in the group using horsetail.
How to use horsetail extract
Use horsetail as a tea: Steep 2-3 tsp. of dried horsetail in a cup of boiled water for 10 minutes to make a tea. You can consume this up to three times a day, but make sure not to consume long-term.
Make a compress for wounds: Use a strong horsetail tea or extract with warm water and soak a washcloth. Then apply to the area of concern for 10 minutes.
Make horsetail extract for your nails: Fill a jar 2/3 of the way full with dried horsetail and then fill to the top with an organic glycerin. Store in a cool, dark place for 6 weeks, then strain. Soak your nails for 5 minutes a day to strengthen and repair damaged and brittle nails.
Strengthen your hair with a hair rinse: Brew a strong herbal tea with 1/2 cup of dried horsetail to 1 cup of boiled water. Steep the herb for one hour, strain, and use the hair rinse in the shower. (Recipe via wellnessmama)
Take a horsetail supplement: As a supplement, the German E Commission recommends 6g daily.
Horsetail warnings and precautions
While horsetail is an effective way to support the body, there are precautions to consider.
- Make sure to purchase the correct species of Horsetail, equisetum arvense, when choosing a species. Other species of horsetail like E. palusture can be poisonous.
- Horsetail should not be used for extended periods of time and should be cycled on and off.
- If you have a thiamine deficiency or consume too much alcohol, this may not be the herb for you.
- If you are using nicotine patches or are sensitive to nicotine, use caution as horsetail contains slight amounts of nicotine which can lead to symptoms of nicotine overdose.
- The nicotine content is also a reason you should avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- While horsetail contains potassium, it can also flush potassium out of the body because of its diuretic effects.
- As with any supplement, it is best to work with your doctor to see if there could be any interactions. Consult your physician before taking, and do not use this article in place of medical advice.
Read Next: Best Supplements for Hair, Skin, and Nails
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