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Horsetail: The Herb That Supports Hair Health

So, I just trimmed my hair twice in the past week. I missed my official trim last month and thought a light dusting would suffice. However, when I washed my hair last weekend, I felt I needed a little more taken off. However, this second trim I went a little scissor happy and cut my hair wet. While my hair feels great, it is definitely shorter. Subsequently, I reached into my herb closet to find some herbs that help speed up hair growth. There I found sitting in the back was my bag of horsetail, one of my favorite herbs for hair growth.

What is Horsetail?

By H. Zell - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9873093

By H. Zell - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9873093

Despite its common name, horsetail or Equisetum Arvense is one of at least 15 species of Equisetum. Horsetail received its name because of its resemblance to the tail of a horse. It is one of the oldest living plants dating back millions of years and reproduces by spores rather than seeds. It is native to North America, Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. Horsetail been used for centuries in ayurvedic and tradition medicine to treat rheumatoid arthritis, wound healing, decrease inflammation, urinary tract infections, alleviate anxiety, fight cancer, HIV and herpes, and strengthen hair and nails. So, what makes horsetail so great, especially for our hair?

Beneficial Components

One of the most abundant compounds in horsetail is silica, it is said to have the highest concentration of silica in the plant kingdom. Silica is important because it forms collagen, a protein found in our hair, skin, and bones. Silica helps strengthen weak and damaged hair, providing shine and body.

Other beneficial compounds found in horsetail are:

  •   Phenolic compounds- flavonoids that contain antioxidant and antimicrobial activity

  •  Vitamins- Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B, niacin, Vitamin B5, folate- help increase scalp circulation and encourage hair growth

  •  Potassium

  •  Calcium-assists in remineralizers bone and teeth and regenerating tissue

  •   Iron-iron helps produce the hemoglobin in blood which carries oxygen to the scalp which aids in hair growth

  •  Selenium- helps produce iodine which regulates hair growth

  •  Zinc- low zinc levels are linked to hair loss and poor hair growth. Zinc is shown to improve damage hair follicles

  • Copper

  •  Inositol- penentrates the hair shaft and repairs it from the inside out and protects it from future damage.

  • Kynurenic acid-reduces inflammation and pain

Does it increase hair growth?

There is limited research on the actual effects of horsetail for increased hair growth. In one double blind study, women with thinning hair received a nutritional supplement containing silica derived from horsetail, after 90 and 180 days, they noticed significant hair growth. Future research studies are still being conducted as some studies have noted that hair strands with higher silicon content tend to have lower rate of hair loss and increased brightness.

Considerations and Precautions

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There have been few studies conducted on the long-term consumption of the herb horsetail. It is not recommended for those with diabetes, heart or kidney disorder, and women who are pregnant. As always before starting an herbal supplement or tea, please consult with your doctor.

How to Use

For internal use, brew a tea using:

2 teaspoons dried horsetail

1 cup of hot water

Add the horsetail to a cup of boiled water, steep for 15 minutes, strain and drink.

For external use in a tea rinse see the following tutorial: