Drugs A - Z

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense L.)

treats Osteoporosis and Diuresis

Generic Name: Horsetail


Herbs & Supplements


Bottle brush, cola de caballo (Spanish), common horsetail, common scouring rush, corn horsetail, corncob plant, couring rush, Dutch rush, Equisetaceae (family), Equisetum arvense, Equisetum myriochaetum, Equisetum ramosissimum, Equisetum telmateia, field horsetail, Herba Equiseti Hiemalis, hippuric acid, homovanillic acid, horse willow, horsetail grass, horsetail rush, mokuzoku (Japanese), mokchok, mokjeok (Korean), muzei (E. hymale), paddock pipes, pewterwort, prele, pribes des champs, running clubmoss, Schachtelhalm (German), scouring rush, shave grass, shenjincao (Chinese), toadpipe, Wenjing, Zinnkraut (German).

Crude drugs derived from Equisetum arvense include Wenjing, Jiejiecao, and Bitoucai.

Note: Equisetum arvense should not be confused with members of the genus Laminaria, kelp, or brown alga, for which "horsetail" has been used as a synonym.


Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) has traditionally been used in Europe as a diuretic for the treatment of edema (swelling/fluid retention). The German Commission E expert panel has approved horsetail for this indication. Horsetail is also occasionally used for osteoporosis, nephrolithiasis (kidney stones), urinary tract inflammation, and wound healing (topical). It is also used in cosmetics and shampoos. These uses have largely been based on anecdote and clinical tradition, rather than scientific evidence.

There is preliminary human evidence supporting the use of horsetail as a diuretic. One poorly designed human trial found horsetail to effectively raise bone density equally to calcium supplements.

In theory (based on mechanism of action), horsetail ingestion in large amounts may cause thiamine deficiency, hypokalemia (low potassium), or nicotine toxicity. Reported adverse effects include dermatitis.


DISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Diuresis (increased urine): Use of horsetail dates to ancient Roman and Greek medicine. The name Equisetum is derived from equus, "horse," and seta, "bristle." Preliminary human and laboratory research suggests that horsetail may increase the amount of urine produced by the body. More studies are needed to determine if horsetail is safe or useful for specific health conditions.
Grade: B

Osteoporosis (weakening of the bones): Silicon may be beneficial for bone strengthening. Because horsetail contains silicon, it has been suggested as a possible natural treatment for osteoporosis. Preliminary human study reports benefits, but more detailed research is needed before a firm recommendation can be made. People with osteoporosis should speak with a qualified healthcare provider about possible treatment with more proven therapies.
Grade: C


WARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Antibacterial, antioxidant, astringent, bedwetting, benign prostate hyperplasia (enlarged prostate), bladder disturbances, bleeding, brittle fingernails, cancer, cosmetic uses, cystic ulcers, diabetes, dropsy, dyspepsia, edema, fever, fluid in the lungs, frostbite, gonorrhea, gout, hair loss, hematuria (blood in the urine), hepatitis, itch, itching (chronic), kidney disease, kidney stones, leg swelling, liver protection, malaria, menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding), menstrual pain, nosebleeds, prostate inflammation, styptic (to stop bleeding cuts on the skin), Reiter's syndrome, rheumatism, sedative, stomach upset, thyroid disorders, tuberculosis, urinary incontinence, urinary tract infection (UTI), urinary tract inflammation, urolithiasis (urinary tract stones), vaginal discharge, wound healing.
Licensed from
The Healthline Site, its content, such as text, graphics, images, search results, HealthMaps, Trust Marks, and other material contained on the Healthline Site ("Content"), its services, and any information or material posted on the Healthline Site by third parties are provided for informational purposes only. None of the foregoing is a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Healthline Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Please read the Terms of Service for more information regarding use of the Healthline Site.