Horsetail. Horsetail herb
Specification & Spread
Horsetail herb — herba equiseti arvensis
Horsetail — equisetum arvense l.
Horsetail family — equisetaceae
Other names: scouring rush, equisetum, shavegrass, mare's-tail, marsh spruce, horse tail, Dutch Rushes.
It is a perennial spore plant with a long creeping rhizome and articulate stems.
The shoots are of two types. In early spring, sporiferous shoots appear. It is juicy, thick, unbranched, 7–25 cm tall, light brown or pinkish in colour, bearing one apical strobilus (spore-bearing spikelet) with spores. After sporulation, it quickly dies. The spores on spore-bearing shoots ripen in April - May. In the summer, fruitless, vegetative thin shoots 10-50 cm high, green in colour, with leafless numerous branches arranged in whorls grow from the same rhizome. The reduced leaves are closed vagina, located in the nodes of the stem and branches.
The whole plant is hard and rough to the touch, as the walls of the epidermal cells are saturated with silicic acid.
Spreading. It has an almost cosmopolitan type of range, it is found in the temperate zone of all continents. The whole territory of the country, except for deserts and semi-deserts; it is found even in the Arctic.
Habitat. It grows in meadows, river banks, among the thickets of shrubs. As weed is found in fields and gardens, it is common on the roadsides, on the slopes of railway embankments, near ditches, in sand and clay pits. It often forms large thickets, convenient for harvesting. Horsetail is an indicator of acidic soils.
The chemical composition of horsetail
The main active ingredients of horsetail herb are:
- flavonoids are derivatives of apigenin, luteolin, kaempferol and quercetin.
There are also found:
- phenolic acids,
- triterpene saponins,
- some alkaloids,
- a significant amount of silicic acid derivatives (about 10% of them in the form of water-soluble silicates).
Harvesting and storage of raw materials
Harvesting. The green vegetative shoots are harvested in the summer, cutting them off with a sickle or knife at a height of 5-10 cm from the soil surface. It is possible to harvest the raw materials throughout the summer in dry weather, as the raw materials harvested in wet weather are blacken.
Before drying, the yellowed branches are cut off, non-medicinal types of horsetails are separated, which, after drying, are difficult to distinguish.
Security measures. Since the horsetail grows vegetatively and the above-ground part serves as raw material, the same thickets can be used for several years in a row, then giving «rest» for 1-2 years in order to avoid depletion of the rhizomes.
Drying. The raw materials are dried in the open air in the shade or in dryers with artificial heating at a temperature of 40-50 ºС, spreading a loose layer with a thickness of not more than 5 cm on paper or fabric. When drying in air, the raw material is covered with a tarpaulin at night.
Storage. The compressed herb is packed in bales or piles weighing 50 kg each. It is stored in a dry, well-ventilated area. When the humidity increases to 15-16%, the raw material is self-heating and acquires an unnatural odour.
External signs of raw materials
Whole raw materials
Solid or partially crushed stems up to 30 cm long, rigid, jointed, furrowed, with 6-18 longitudinal ribs, almost from the base, whitish-branched, with hollow internodes and thickening at the nodes. The branches are unbranched, segmented, obliquely upward directed, 4-5-sided, without a cavity. The axils of stems are cylindrical, 4-8 mm long, with triangular-lanceolate, dark-brown, white-limbed teeth along the edge, 2-3 welded together. Theaxils of the branches are green with 4-5 brownish long-drawn teeth. When the branches are broken, only the first short segments are retained on the stem. The colour is greyish green. The smell is weak. The taste is slightly sour.
Milled raw materials.
The pieces of stems and branches, partly with nodes and sheaths, passing through a sieve with 7 mm diameter holes. The colour is greyish green. The smell is weak. The taste is slightly sour.
A mixture of particles passing through a sieve with holes of 2 mm diameter. The colour is greyish green with brown and whitish patches. The smell is weak. The taste is slightly sour.
As impurities, the shoots of other types of horsetails can be found (Fig. 8.19), which are not used in medicine and grow in areas of harvesting of horsetail. The distinctive features of horsetail and other species that are impurities are shown in the table.
Distinctive features of various types of horsetails
Horsetail — Equisetum arvense L. slanting upwards, usually unbranched, sometimes the lowermost branches are branching out; 4-5-sided, without cavity; It is triangular-lanceolate, sharp, black-brown, grows together by 2-3. It grows in fields, railway embankments, meadows, roadsides, banks of reservoirs.
Marsh horsetail – Equisetum palustre L. slanting upwards, branchless, hard, 4-6-faced, with a cavity. Meadow horsetail — Equisetum pratense Ehrh. horizontal or deflected to the bottom, unbranched, soft, 3-sided awl, ungrown, small, on the edge with a narrow black border. It grows on meadows, thickets of bushes, forests, forest glades and edges.
Wood horsetail — Equisetum sylvaticum L. horizontal or drooping, strongly branched, soft, long, 4-sided, large, thin (usually break off as raw materials), light brown or brown, accreted in 2-5. It grows in wet forests, meadows, fringe of marshes, forest glades and forest edges.
Water horsetail — Equisetum fluviatile L. slanting up. branchless, soft, 6-sided, often completely absent. It is lanceolate-styloid, black, non-conglomerate, pressed against the stalk. It grows swamp, shores of water bodies, mostly growing in water.
Winter horsetail - Equisetum hyemale L. The stem is unbranched, rarely branched, thick, rigid, hibernating. The teeth are present only in the axil in the upper node of the stem, brownish-black. It grows inoniferous and mixed forests.
Rough horsetail – Equisetum hyemale L. Absent Stalks are unbranched, rarely branched, thick, rigid, hibernating. Teeth are present only in the vagina in the upper node of the stem, brownish-black.
Properties and application
The pharmacological properties of horsetail
- improves urination,
- has hemostatic and anti-inflammatory properties,
- promotes lead removal from the body.
The galenic forms of horsetail, as well as the isolated luteolin glycoside, isolated from the horsetail, have:
- anti-inflammatory and
- antimicrobial action.
Silicic acid and its salts are part of most tissues of living organisms, affect the formation of bone tissue, collagen.
Application of horsetail
The preparations of horsetail are used as:
- diuretic in inflammatory diseases of the urinary tract (cystitis, urethritis, urolithiasis).
Usually, horsetail herb is used in complex medical collections.
As a diuretic, horsetail is also used.
It is used in case of congestive heart disease,
- with pulmonary heart disease,
- microhematuria and hemoptysis, especially of tuberculous etiology.
The preparations of the horsetail is prescribed:
- in acute and chronic lead poisoning.
Horsetail is used in cosmetics.
It is applied with acne, to care for oily skin.
Horsetail herb infusion is used:
- to strengthen the hair.
The preparations from the horsetail are used strictly as prescribed by the doctor, since they can cause irritation of the kidneys.
The horsetail preparations are contraindicated in nephritis and nephrosonephritis.
- renal dysfunction,
- individual intolerance.
- Swelling of the heart and renal origin.
- Pregnancy and lactation period.
- Children's age up to 12 years.