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Horsetail and Hair Loss - What You Should Know

Horsetail is a possible natural alternative to over-the-counter or prescription hair loss treatments.
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Introduction

Among the list of natural hair loss herbs, vitamins and supplements one can use to try to prevent hair loss and promote hair growth, horsetail is a common choice.

If you are someone who is looking for a more natural approach to balding and thinning hair, using horsetail for hair loss should be considered. 

What is Horsetail?

Horsetail is also called puzzle grass, snake grass, bottlebrush, pewterwort etc. Its botanical name is Equisetum arvense.

It is sometimes confused with Mare’s tail, another unrelated plant which looks like it. Rather than produce seeds, this plant only produces spores by which it reproduces.

Its use as a medicinal herb dates back to the times of the Greeks and Romans. These ancients used it to stop hemorrhage and external bleeding, to treat tuberculosis and kidney diseases. The American Indians used it to treat urinary tract infections.

Horsetail grows in hardy environments preferring wet soil especially swamps. It is poisonous to animals especially when large quantities of the leaves are consumed.

However, stems of the young plant are eaten as food in Japan. The young shoots of horsetail were also eaten by the Romans and Native Indians.

This herb is a perennial plant (has a yearly growth cycle) known for its erect, hollow stems which are leafless but covered in sheaths. Its rhizome is hairy and tuber-like.

Extracts of horsetail are used extensively in alternative medicine. These extracts are obtained from the stems of the plant preferably after drying them.

The active agent in horsetail extract is silica. This silica crystallizes out on the stems and branches as the plant dries.

Horsetail contains the following compounds: potassium, aluminum salts, alkaloids, bitters, saponins, flavonoids, aconitic acid and a form of silica, silicic acid. These are the compounds responsible for the medicinal properties of the herb.

Horsetail is known to possess the following medicinal activities: it is astringent, therefore, it shrinks tissues and in this way reduces inflammation and stops excessive secretion; it is diuretic, and so encourages the passage of urine, an important step in reducing blood pressure.

In addition, the herb is homeostatic and acts as a coagulant, which is how it stops bleeding by promoting blood clotting and equalizing blood volume; it is an antioxidant, therefore, it mops up free reactive radicals which can damage cells and accelerate the signs of aging.

Because of these properties horsetail is used to treat inflamed prostates, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, cysts, incontinence, arthritis, osteoporosis and internal bleeding.

Externally, horsetail is useful for treating wounds although it should never be applied to open wounds but rather applied with a compress.

The herb promotes skin health and is used to treat brittle nails, cracked feet, inflamed nails and itching scalps. 

Basic Horsetail Information

One of the first things to know about horsetail is that it contains a high level of silica which helps strengthen both nails and hair. Horsetail plant is known to improve blood circulation which leads to healthier hair follicles and is known to help both men and women struggling with hair loss. 

The information pertaining to horsetail is:

  • Horsetail is a plant that grows naturally in the wild. The long, leafy branches that stem from the plant are what is used for various herbal medicines.
  • There are many common uses for horsetail, but the most common include kidney and bladder issues, weight loss, heavy menstrual bleeding and to prevent or reverse balding.
  • Horsetail can also be applied to wounds, burns and other skin irritations, which is why some hair loss sufferers prefer to use a topical solution containing horsetail as opposed to taking horsetail orally.

Horsetail and Hair Loss

The reason horsetail is believed to be able to stimulate hair growth is that it may contain antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory effects.

Using this approach to treatment causes better circulation. In turn better circulation leads to the improved health of hair follicles. The end result is the prevention of continued hair loss and the stimulation of hair growth. 

Because horsetail is also known for its ability to increase urine output by acting as a diuretic, the system is continually cleansing itself and detoxing.

Helping your body be cleansed results in better overall health and improved blood circulation. Blood circulation improves upon the condition of both the scalp and the individual hair follicles.

With these improvements comes the ability for hair follicles to produce new hair and ultimately avoid further hair loss.

Because of its silica content, horsetail is useful in treating hair loss.

The herb rejuvenates the hair, adding sheen to the appearance and strength to the hair shafts. It is often found formulated with other herbs in herbal hair loss remedies.

Horsetail also contains appreciable amounts of selenium and cysteine which are known to prevent hair loss and promote hair regrowth. Both of these active agents contribute to health hair follicle cells and prevent free radicals from damaging these cells.

Supplementation, Concerns and Interactions

Horsetail is available both as a dried herb and liquid preparations.

The usual dose for both dosage forms is 300 mg of the extract 3 times daily. In standardized formulations this 300 mg of herbal horsetail should contain 10% to 15% silica.

Horsetail preparations should be stored in sealed containers away from sunlight.

The dried, powdery form can be taken as herbal tea. 2 – 3 teaspoonfuls of the tea should be infused in hot water for 5 – 10 minutes. This should be taken three times daily.

For liquid preparations of the herb such as horsetail tincture (1:5), the recommended dosage is 1 – 4 ml 3 times daily.

Horsetail supplements should not be used for prolonged periods. This is because it is an irritant which can have adverse effects on the gastrointestinal tract and also because it inhibits the absorption of Vitamin B1.

To prevent Vitamin B1 deficiency, it is advised that people using horsetail should also take multivitamins or Vitamin B complex supplements.

Similarly, horsetail can cause the blood level of potassium to drop. This also includes the risk of dehydration.

Since horsetail is a known diuretic, potassium is flushed away with water. Therefore, potassium supplementation may be advised in healthy people. Those with congestive heart disease should avoid horsetail.

Lastly, horsetail extract contains appreciable amount of nicotine, and should be avoided in people trying to kick their smoking habits with nicotine patches or gums.

Hair loss herbs, and other homeopathic supplements and treatments are often a preferred choice for those who like to use something more natural.

There are however things to be cautious of when it comes to horsetail for hair loss remedies.

  • Reports indicate that there is the possibility that long term oral ingestion may lead to complications. Using horsetail products that are thiaminase free is a better option, but you should still be careful of taking horsetail by mouth for a long time.
  • Also if you are taking lithium you should avoid interaction with horsetail for hair loss.
  • Other herbs you may want to avoid taking or using while you are taking horsetail include thiamine, areca and any supplements that contain chromium.
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