Like all herbs, there are some precautions you should take before using horsetail medicinally.
Horsetail Preparations and Dosage
The young shoots are gathered early in the spring and eaten like asparagus, or they are dried and tinctured. Don't gather horsetail late in the season because its silica levels will be too high. Silica then acts like sand in the body and is particularly irritating to the kidneys. For such chronic conditions as osteoporosis and other bone-thinning diseases, take horsetail for a week, then abstain for a week or two before resuming use.
Tincture: Most people can tolerate 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of horsetail tincture, two to five times a day. But don't take horsetail for longer than a month.
Horsetail Precautions and Warnings
Avoid horsetail if you have high blood pressure. Some cases of high blood pressure are due to kidney abnormalities (a condition called renal hypertension), and horsetail can irritate the kidneys. Those who have a family history of silica kidney stones also should avoid horsetail. Horsetail may make breast milk less palatable to nursing infants. Ask herb suppliers where they gathered their horsetail. Make sure it doesn't come from roadsides or other possibly polluted environments. Horsetail is known to concentrate heavy metals and other toxins in its leaves.
Side Effects of Horsetail
There are no reported serious side effects or toxicities. Kidney irritation could occur with long-term, repetitive, and frequent use. Limit its use to one month at a time, or stop for one week every three weeks when taking this herb. Prolonged intake can interfere with normal vitamin B1 (thiamin) metabolism. A related plant, marsh horsetail (E. palustre), contains a poisonous ingredient and should be avoided. There are reports that some batches of horsetail (E. arvense) have been contaminated with E. palustre.
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- For an overview of all of our herbal remedies, go to the main Herbal Remedies page.
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Jennifer Brett, N.D. is director of the Acupuncture Institute for the University of Bridgeport, where she also serves on the faculty for the College of Naturopathic Medicine. A recognized leader in her field with an extensive background in treating a wide variety of disorders utilizing nutritional and botanical remedies, Dr. Brett has appeared on WABC TV (NYC) and on Good Morning America to discuss utilizing herbs for health.This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.