In early spring the brown fertile stems with a terminal cone-like catkin containing the spores grow from the deep and creeping rhizomes. The green summer fronds grow later to a height of 40 cm. and resemble small, evenly built pine-trees. Horsetail grows in fields, on hedge banks and railway embankments. The ones growing on pure clay soil have the greatest healing qualities. Depending on the place it grows it has 3 to 16% of silicic acid which makes it so valuable. Of course the Horsetail growing on chemically fertilized ground should not be used. The Horsetail with the finest branches, the Wood Horsetail (Equisetum sylvaticum) which grows on edges of woods and copses, has medicinal properties too.
In popular medicine Horsetail was much esteemed in old times, especially for its blood staunching effect and its success in kidney and bladder trouble. But with time its values were forgotten.
It was no other than our great and popular herbalist Abbe Kneipp who put the Horsetail back to its important place. He declares it as "uniquely irreplaceable and invaluable" for bleeding, spitting of blood, bladder and kidney disorders, gravel and stones. "For old troubles", he says, "foul wounds, even cancer-like growths and ulcerated legs, Horsetail is of great value. It cleanses, clears up and burns away everything bad, so to speak. Often the moist, warm plant is placed into moist cloths and applied to the affected parts."
The Swiss Abbe Kuenzle says that all people from a certain age on should drink a cup of Horsetail tea every day all year round and all pain caused by rheumatism, gout and nerves would disappear and every person would have a healthy old age. He tells of an 86 year old man who was relieved from stones which had caused him a lot of pain, by taking Horsetail steam baths and who still lived for many years. He also states: "This plant, taken internally as a tea, will stop the strongest haemorrhaging and vomiting of blood in a short time, yes, almost immediately."
For painful bladder catarrh and cramp-like pains there is no better remedy than a decoction of Horsetail, if one wraps oneself in a bath robe and allows the hot steam of the decoction to work into the bladder for 10 minutes. Repeat several times and it soon will bring relief.
Old people who suddenly have trouble urinating, together with pain, because the urine is not expelled or does so only drop-wise, will find relief through the hot steam of Horsetail, rather than having the doctor use a catheter. For gravel and stones in the kidney and bladder hot Horsetail sitz baths are taken and at the same time warm Horsetail tea is sipped, the urine is held back and finally emptied under pressure. This way most stones will pass.
On the strength of this suggestion I have received letters which confirm the above: Through this treatment the kidney stones were passed, the persons concerned are well and without any pain.
In cases where other diuretic means failed, Horsetail helped, as for example in accumulation of water in the pericardium, pleura, or in kidney disorders, after scarlet fever and other bad infectious diseases with water retention. It is an excellent remedy, internally and externally, for the whole kidney and bladder system.
For pyelitis a bath alone can work wonders. For this can be taken - and only for external use - the Great or River Horsetail (Equisetum maximum) that grows in bogs, on banks of rivers and has finger thick stems.
An acquaintance of mine was in hospital with a bad case of pyelitis for weeks. Since there seemed no end in sight, she sent a letter to me. I advised her to take a Horsetail sitz bath. A few days later I received another letter: "You have saved my life. I am at home. The sitz bath took away all troubles and gave me new strength." The Great or River Horsetail is used for sitz baths only. The Field or Wood Horsetail is used for teas taken internally.
After a difficult birth young mothers sometimes experience visual defects, the reason, most likely, is an affected kidney. Sitz baths stimulate the kidney and take the pressure off the eyes, so that slowly the visual defects disappear. The German physician Dr. Bohn highly praises this plant: "On the one side Horsetail is a remedy for haemorrhaging and on the other - and even more so - a kidney remedy. After drinking the tea, a large quantity of dark coloured urine is easily passed. For dropsy it is a quick, effective remedy." If no other diuretic remedy works, all other herb teas are avoided and from 5 to 6 cups of Horsetail tea are sipped daily for 4 to 5 days (in persistent cases 6 days). Experience shows that in most cases the water passes.
For itching rashes, even if they are festering or scabby, washings and compresses of a decoction of Horsetail are helpful. Horsetail washings and baths are beneficial for inflammation of the nailbed, cracked feet, caries, old festering wounds, cancer-like growths, bony projections on the heal, fistulas, barber's itch and other herpes. The scalded herb, wrapped while warm in a cloth, can also be applied. For painful haemorrhoids and haemorrhoidal knots the pulp is used. For persistent nose bleeding a compress made from the cooled decoction of Horsetail is applied.
As a blood-staunching remedy it helps to stop bleeding of the lung, uterus, stomach and haemorrhoids. Of course stronger decoctions are required. Normally 1 heaped teaspoon per cup (1/4 litre) is used, but for bleedings 2 to 3 heaped teaspoons per cup are required.
Horsetail together with Speedwell is a good preventive remedy for hardening of the arteries and for amnesia through its blood cleansing action. One can call it the best cancer prophylactic.
Horsetail tincture (see "directions") is an excellent remedy for sweaty feet. This tincture is rubbed into the well washed and dried feet and a cup of Horsetail tea is drunk on an empty stomach half an hour before breakfast daily. Foot baths are also good for sweaty feet (see "directions"). For dandruff, the hair is washed with a decoction of Horsetail daily and then the scalp massaged with a good olive oil and the dandruff will soon clear up.
A tea of Horsetail and St. John's Wort - 2 cups daily and a nonliquid meal in the evening will relieve bedwetting. This tea can also be used as a gargle for tonsillitis, inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth, stomatitis, inflammation or bleeding of the gums, fistulas and adenoids in palate and throat. For white discharge in woman, sitz baths are used.
Don't forget, Horsetail is one of the best remedies for chronic bronchitis and tuberculosis of the lungs. Through its silica content, the tea, if drunk regularly, helps heal the lungs and removes the general weakness.
Results of the latest research, according to the Austrian biologist Richard Willfort, justify the assumption that tumours are inhibited in their growth and finally eliminated through the use of Horsetail tea for long periods.
This is also useful for polyps in the abdomen or anus. For greater benefit in both cases Horsetail steam poultices and sitz baths are used. These poultices are also useful for stomach pains, liver and gallbladder attacks, bursitis and for painful congestions which press upon the heart.
On December 19,1977 I received a call from a 49 year old farmer, who had a very painful, hard growth on the sole of his foot and was therefore unable to step on it. He spent a few days in hospital but was sent home again. I recommended Horsetail poultices which can even eliminate malignant tumours. I was quite surprised when on December 22, he called again telling me that the growth had disappeared. The skin still felt soft and flabby but the hard growth was gone. - A new miracle from God's pharmacy!
I have found through experience that the worst disc lesions insofar as they are not caused by a pinched nerve, often disappear very quickly through the use of Horsetail sitz baths. If X-rays show degenerated vertebrae caused by age, there is no reason to suffer pain. The pressure of a kidney disorder pushes upward and along the spine where it presses on the superficial nerves causing pain, as experience shows. Therefore it is the pressure of the kidneys and not the disc lesions which causes the pain. A Horsetail sitz bath because of its deep penetration relieves the pressure. A 38 year old woman was under treatment for disc lesions for 3 years, but her pains became worse, her shoulders and neck area were so stiff that she could only get out of bed in the morning with the help of a bar her husband had fixed over her bed. At this time I met her at a lecture I gave. You will be quite surprised to learn that this woman lost all her stiffness and pain after only one sitz bath. This applies also for disc lesions caused by driving a tractor. The rattling movements do not harm the discs but the kidneys and immediately there is a pressure upward which Horsetail sitz baths relieve.
A lady from Switzerland had a stiff neck for years. Every year she took a cure which gave her only limited relief. By chance I met her. Sceptically she promised to take Horsetail sitz baths. Soon I received a call and this happy lady told me that after 10 minutes in the bath all the stiffness had disappeared. As I know, it has not returned since.
The great neurologist Dr. Wagner-Jauregg said in his writings: "two thirds of all mentally ill would not go to a mental home had they healthy kidneys."
Up to now I have been able to advise many unhappy people who, through kidney disorders, suffered from depression, delusions and fits of rage and would have ended in a mental home but for Horsetail sitz baths. For these conditions besides Yarrow and Stinging Nettle teas, a cup of Horsetail tea mornings and evenings must be drunk. For serious kidney disorders with all the accompanying symptoms, fresh Horsetail sitz baths should be used, the best, as mentioned previously, being the Great or River Horsetail.
A 5 litre bucketful of herbs is needed for 1 bath (see "directions" and "sitz bath" under General Information). For the sitz bath the kidney region must be under water - the bath must last 20 minutes! Do not dry yourself, but, still wet, wrap yourself in a bath robe and remain perspiring in bed for one hour. Only then, dress in dry night attire. The sitz bath water can be re-warmed and used twice.
Infusion: 1/4 litre of boiling water is poured over 1 heaped teaspoon of Horsetail.
Poultice: A heaped double handful of Horsetail is placed in a sieve, which is hung over boiling water. When the herbs are hot and soft, they are wrapped in a piece of linen and applied to the affected part. Keep absolutely warm!
Sitz bath: 100 gm. of Horsetail are steeped in cold water overnight, the next day brought to the boil and added to the bath water. 20 minutes are required for a bath. Don't dry yourself. still wet, wrap up in a bath robe, remain perspiring in bed for 1 hour. The bath water must reach above the kidney region.
Tincture: 10 gm. of fresh Horsetail are macerated in 50 gm. of pure whisky. Keep in the sun or a warm place for 14 days. Shake daily!
Pulp compress: Fresh Horsetail is washed well and crushed to pulp on a wooden board.