Equisetum arvense L.

Last updated: 18 Apr 2016

Scientific Name

Equisetum arvense L.


Equisetum arvense var. arvense, Equisetum arvense f. arvense, Equisetum arvense subsp. boreale Á. Löve, Equisetum boreale Bong., Equisetum caldera B. Boivin, Equisetum saxicola Suksd. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Common horsetail, field horsetail, horse’s tail, horsetail, mare’s tail, scouring rushes [2]
China Chieh hsu ts’ao, wen ching, wen jing [2]
India Harjor, sarsyot [2]
Japan Tsukushi. [2]

Geographical Distributions

Equisetum arvense is a plant found throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere in Asia, Europe, and North America. [3]

Botanical Description

No documentation.


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

E. arvense extract has been reported to contain sterol compounds (e.g. β-sitosterol (60.0%), campesterol (32.9%), isofucosterol (5.9%) and cholesterol (trace amounts). [4]

E. arvense has been reported to contain 10-20% mineral content (5-8% silicic acid); flavonoids (e.g. quercetin); phenolic acids; and alkaloids. [5]

Plant Part Used

Whole plant, stem, shoot [3][6][7]

Traditional Use

E. arvense therapeutic uses date back to the ancient Romans and Greeks, where it was used as a remedy to stop bleeding, to treat ulcers, wounds, and inflammation of the skin. [3] E. arvense was used extensively by the early Eclectic Medicine physicians for gonorrhea, prostatitis, enuresis, and other disorders of the urinary tract, based on traditional Native American uses. Currently, E. arvense is used in strengthening and supporting connective tissues including bones, as a mild diuretic, and externally in skin care preparations. [6] E. arvense contains silicon, silica, and silicic acid, of which a portion is elemental silicon, a vital element for healthy tissues and organs of the body including the skin, hair, nails, teeth, bones, tendons, and ligaments. [7]

Preclinical Data


Bone support activity

E. arvense has a reported effect on bone and connective tissue, strengthening and aiding in regeneration due to the silicic acid content (including elemental silicon). [8]

Silicon performs an important role in connective tissue, especially in bone and cartilage. It is primary effect in bone and cartilage appears to be on formation of the organic matrix. Bone and cartilage abnormalities are associated with a reduction in matrix components, resulting in the establishment of a requirement for silicon in collagen and glycosaminoglycan formation. Additional support for silicon's metabolic role in connective tissue is provided by the finding that silicon is a major ion of osteogenic cells, especially high in the metabolically active state of the cell. Further studies also indicate that silicon participates in the biochemistry of subcellular enzyme-containing structures. [9]

Silicon also forms important relationships with other elements. Although it is clear from the body of recent work that silicon performs a specific metabolic function, a structural role has been proposed for silicon in connective tissue. A relationship established between silicon and aging probably relates to glycosaminoglycan changes. [10]

In a laboratory study, a greater amount of glycosaminoglycans was reported to be found in the articular cartilage and connective tissue of silicon-supplemented laboratory animals. [11]

Antioxidant activity

Phosphate buffer (pH 7) extract of E. arvense aerial part has been demonstrated NO inhibition and radical scavenging activity. This result indicated that E. arvense has a positive antioxidant activity. [12]

The n-butanol, methanol, ethyl acetate, and water extracts of E. arvense has been demonstrated a significant peroxyl radical scavenging activity in dose-dependent manner. [13]

Antiproliferative activity

Ethyl acetate extract of E. arvense has been studied to exhibit the most prominent antiproliferative effect, without inducing any cell growth stimulation on human tumor cell lines. [13]

Hepatotoxicity activity

Oral treatment of E. arvense did not show any significant toxicity on the liver of rats. However, further studies are needed to confirm the chronic hepatotoxicity of horsetail [14]

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Equisetum arvense L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Apr 18; cited 2016 Apr 18]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/tro-26602003.
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume III E-L. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 81.
  3. Blumenthal M. Herbal medicine: Expanded commission E monographs: Integrative Medicine Communications. Massachusetts, Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 2000; p. 208-211.
  4. D’Agostino M, Dini A, Pizza C, Senatore F, Aguino R. Sterols from Equisetum arvense. Boll Soc Ital Biol Sper. 1984;60(12):2241-2245.
  5. Frank Bakke IL, Kringstad R, Nordal A. Water-soluble acids from Equisetum arvense L. Acta Pharm Suec. 1978;15(2):141-147.
  6. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of common natural ingredients: Used in food, drugs, and cosmetics. New York: Wiley-Interscience Publication, 2003; p. 306-308.
  7. Fortitech Premixes Strategic Nutrition. Horsetail. [homepage on the Internet]. c2016 [cited 2016 Aug 08]. Available from: https://www.fortitechpremixes.com/research/nutrients/horsetail/.
  8. Harmon NW. Equisetum arvense. Pharm J. 1992;399:413-415.
  9. Carlisle EM. Silicon as a trace nutrient. Sci Total Environ. 1988;73(1-2):95-106.
  10. Carlisle EM. The nutritional essentiality of silicon. Nutr Rev. 1982;40(7):193-198.
  11. Carlisle EM.In vivo requirement for ailicon in articular cartilage and connective tissue formation in the chick. J Nutr. 1976;106(4):478-484.
  12. Štajner D, Popović BM, Čanadanović-Brunet J, Boža P. Free radical scavenging activity of three Equisetum species from Fruška gora Mountain. Fitoterapia. 2006;77(7-8):601-604.
  13. Cetojević-Simin DD, Canadanović-Brunet JM, Boqdanović GM, et al. Antioxidative and antiproliferative activities of different Horsetail (Equisetum arvense L.) extracts. J Med Food. 2010;13(2):452-459.
  14. Baracho NC, Vicente BB, Arruda GD, Sanches BC, Brito J. Study of acute hepatotoxicity of Equisetum arvense L. in rats. Acta Cir Bras. 2009;24(6):449-453.