Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is an ancient plant dating back at least three hundred million years. It can be classed as a living fossil as it is the only remaining member of its family. During the Carboniferous period members of this family grew as tall as trees and are responsible for many of our modern day coal deposits.
This non flowering plant reproduces by means of spores rather than seeds and spreads out underground through a deep rhizome system. It can be seen as a pervasive weed as it’s almost impossible to dig out the rhizome. It is one of my favourite plants and I always think they look a bit like miniature trees with their ridged stems and rings from which the delicate needle- like leaves arise.
Horsetail has good amounts of silica which is associated with strong hair and nails. This mineral helps fix calcium which in turn builds strong bones and collagen in the tissues. The herb also has a powerful diuretic action is traditionally used for urinary tract infections as it can help remove infection, heal damaged tissue whilst possessing anti inflammatory and soothing properties. It is also an antihaemorraghic and can be used to treat slow healing wounds and mouth ulcers when used topically and as a mouth rinse.
For mouth ulcers and as a gargle for sore throats make a strong infusion from the stems and leaves, one part herb to two parts hot water. Steep for thirty minutes and allow to cool before using.