Also called bottlebrush, mare's tail, scouring rush, and shave grass, horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is a perennial herb that contains bioavailable “silicon,” a trace mineral required by the body for flexible joints, glowing skin and stronger bones.
A Little Bit About the Plant Itself
Horsetail likes moist and sandy soil found in temperate climates in much of North America, as well as in similar climates in Europe and Asia. It's been around a long time—living for more than one hundred million years, once dominating the late Paleozoic forests. In spring, the stem resembles asparagus, which then withers and turns brown in early summer, giving way to green stems that are thin and look like the tail of a horse.
This herb has long been used to cure a variety of ailments, once recommended by a Roman physician and mentioned in scriptures of Chinese traditional medicine. The Greek physician Claudius Galenus first recorded its use, and the seventeenth century English herbalist, Nicholas Culpepper, used it in a variety of treatments, including those for ulcers.
Historically, horsetail was used internally as a diuretic, to increase blood circulation, infections, arthritis, and respiratory disorders. Native Americans and even today's campers have been known to use it to scrub cooking utensils.
Horsetail's Benefits to the Skin
What makes horsetail stand out in the cosmetic world is that it's reported to contain more silicon in the form of silica and silica acids than any other herb, in a form that's highly absorbable by the body. Silicon is a trace mineral essential to human health that's also the second most abundant element (after oxygen) in the earth's crust. (Don't confuse this with “silicone,” which is a man-made substance derived from silicon and other chemicals, and used in industrial applications.)
Inside the human body, silicon is important to the strength of the blood vessels, organs, skin, hair, and bones, contributing to the form, resilience, and flexibility of all connective tissues.
Now for the skin, here's just a quick look at some of the other benefits of horsetail:
- Promotes a tighter and firmer look
- Cleansing properties help minimize the appearance of large poress and tone the look of skin
- Improves skin texture with a moisturizing effect
- Good for sensitive skin
- Natural source of nutrients like calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin C
- Antioxidant activity protects from environmental stressors
- Contains a variety of bioflavonoids
Horsetail has so many benefits for skin we included it in our Anti-Aging Eye Cream, our Ayurvedic Facial Scrub, our Beauty Blend Tea, our Herbal Facial Oil for Normal and Combination Skin, and for Oily Skin.
Richard A. Passwater, “Exciting New Studies Verify Health Benefits of Silicon,” Whole Foods Magazine December 2004. http://www.drpasswater.com/nutrition_library/Dirk_Vanden_Berghe.html
Photo courtesy Beedle Um Bum via Flickr.com.
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