Horsetail is a silica rich herb used to support connective tissues in the body. It is probably most popular for strengthening hair and nails, but it can be used for other connective tissues in the body including skin, cartilage, and bones. Silica is found in trace amounts in the skeletal system and may help stabilize the collagen framework of bones that helps to make them strong. Recent studies have found a correlation between dietary silica intake and increased bone mineral density. Also, many herbalists recommend horsetail when people are healing from broken bones. Likewise, a folk use of horsetail is for people who lack confidence and need more backbone metaphorically.
Horsetail has lesser-known uses for the urinary tract. It is a mild diuretic that increases urinary output. As a diuretic, it is used for both urinary tract issues and edema, particularly when there is swelling due to trauma. Horsetail also helps reduce inflammation and contains antimicrobial essential oils. Therefore, it is used for conditions where there is irritation of the bladder, especially if there is increased urge to urinate. Horsetail is occasionally used for incontinence that is due to irritation. Also, it is thought that its ability to support connective tissues is most pronounced in the pelvis area. Therefore, it is sometimes considered as part of a protocol for urinary prolapse. Because of its high silica content and possible resulting tissue irritation, horsetail isn’t used for more than a month at a time. People wishing to use horsetail longer term need to take frequent breaks from using it. Finally, because of horsetail’s high silica content, people with impaired heart or kidney function should avoid using horsetail.