Horsetail Is a traditional medicinal herb that contains chemicals that might have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. It is used as a remedy for osteoporosis, tuberculosis, and kidney problems. Aside from these, the perennial plant is also used as a diuretic (for relief of fluid retention) and to stop bleeding and heal wounds (1,2).
According to test-tube studies, horsetail may inhibit osteoclasts (the bone cells that break down bone through resorption) and stimulate osteoblasts (the bone cells that handle bone synthesis). With the results, experts suggest that the herb may possibly be useful when it comes to bone diseases like osteoporosis, a condition characterized by overly active osteoclasts that result in fragile bones. Furthermore, the herb’s positive effect on bones is also attributed to its silica content which is up to 25% of its dry weight. It is literally filled with silicon which enhances collagen synthesis and improves the absorption and use of calcium thereby improving the formation, density, and consistency of bone and cartilage tissue (3,4,5). This is the reason that horsetail has been used to treat osteoporosis in menopausal women.
In the body, silica also converts to calcium. Remember that when we are not getting calcium from our diet, our body pulls it from our bones to sustain other functions that are more important for immediate survival (6,7).
In one study published by The University of Maryland Medical Center in 1999, a total of 122 Italian women took either horsetail dry extract or Osteosil calcium 270 mg twice daily (a horsetail/calcium combination used in Italy for osteoporosis and fractures). All the participants of the study experienced improved bone density. However, researchers suggest that more research is needed to determine whether horsetail has any effect on bone density as the study was not performed to current scientific standards (8).
Horsetail is commonly consumed in tea form, which is made by steeping the dried herb in hot water. It is also available in capsule and tincture form.
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