Herb Feature

Herb Feature

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, “Beauty is only skin-deep”, “Beauty comes from the inside”. There has been much written about what is beautiful and what is not. And it’s a very subjective thing: what I find exquisitely lovely maybe very different from you. But most of us would agree that a clear-eyed person with strong bones, good muscle tone and clear healthy skin is more likely to be considered “beautiful”, which brings us to our wonderful herb of the month, Horsetail or Equisetum Arvense. Horsetail is described as a living fossil because it is the only living example of the botanical class Equisetopsida which ruled the lower layers of forests for more than 100 million years. Equisetum literally means “horse bristle” and the leaves are coated in rough silica compounds which made it useful for scrubbing pots and as a sandpaper in Japan! The long stems have tiny branches with leaves and are thought to resemble the tail of a horse, hence the common name. So, what makes Horsetail so interesting?

Horsetail contains phenolic compounds such as caffeic acid esters and flavonoids such as quercetin which may contribute to its diuretic and healing properties. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals, most notably high amounts of Silica. The mineral silica has a reputation for strengthening tissues, including skin, bones, nails and hair. It is also called the “naturopathic scalpel’, as it is reputed to promote the expulsion of foreign objects from the body including splinters, boils and abscesses, and even pins, plates and screws from joint repair operations! Medicinally it is most well-known for bladder and prostate problems, including poor bladder control and bed-wetting in children. It is also recommended for fluid retention (oedema) following physical trauma as it promotes healing. It is also reputed to reduce bleeding from the bladder, stomach and wounds. Of course, these need to be investigated firstly by a medical practitioner as they are potentially serious conditions.

Equisetum is recommended for benign enlarged prostate and prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland), and can help men with difficult urination. It is also recommended for inflammatory conditions of the urinary tract in both men and women, and urinary gravel. The formation of kidney stones is thought by some in Naturopathic practice to be a loss of minerals through the kidneys due to imbalances in diet and lifestyle, in conjunction with genetic predisposing factors. The silica and other healing compounds in Horsetail may help to prevent stone formation, especially when combined with other herbs like Gravelroot, Crataeva etc. Talk to your Qualified Naturopath/ Herbalist about preventing and eliminating kidney stones.

This herbal extract has also been used for skin conditions: topical applications may assist slow healing wounds and prevent scarring. But many people find Horsetail’s reputation as “The Beauty Herb” to be its most interesting indication. Regular uses of Equisetum report improved skin tone, reduced wrinkles, stronger and faster growing hair and fingernails (although this is subjective and very difficult to prove with scientific trials). The use of quality extracts is vitally important because levels of minerals and other active compounds require proper methods of extraction, the original plant material has to be authentic and healthy, and needs to be grown in as close to ideal conditions as possible. More is not better: always remember high doses will not get you faster results, and may potentially be harmful. It is more important to be consistent rather than excessive. Some sources recommend taking “holidays” from the Herb: for example, take it for 4 weeks, followed by 1 week off.

Having a healthy body and skin requires a combination of many things: a healthy diet that suits you, the individual; appropriate and consistent exercise/ activity for whatever your current level of fitness; a healthy mind that can manage stress and enjoy the wonders and pleasures in your life; and optimal levels of nutritional and herbal medicines when they are needed. Our Naturopathic philosophy is always about wholeness, how the totality of who we are is much more than the sum of our parts. It’s about how we interact with the world around us, and how Nature can support and nurture us, including our external appearance.  Beauty is about much more than having smooth skin and healthy hair, however Horsetail may help you to feel more beautiful along with its many other health benefits!  So, look after your amazing body and let your inner beauty shine through.

David Peirce is a practicing Naturopath/ Herbalist.

Bachelor of Health Science - Complementary Medicine

Contact: 07 4032 0038

Comments are closed.