Friday, January 31, 2014

The Unwanted Effects Of Horsetail

Horsetail (equisetum arvense), also called bottle brush and shavegrass, may have some beneficial properties. However, some serious cautions regarding side effects and drug interactions pertain. Horsetail contains phytochemicals and nutrients. Horsetail's diuretic and astringent properties may alleviate symptoms of conditions such as arthritis and urinary conditions. Few studies substantiate uses for horsetail. Always seek a physician's advice before using horsetail.

Standard Side Effects

Never use horsetail if pregnant or nursing. The selenium in horsetail may cause birth defects in the fetuses of pregnant women who take horsetail. Horsetail is a diuretic, which has a dehydrating effect. Horsetail contains nicotine. Smokers should not take horsetail. High concentrations of nicotine may cause symptoms of nicotine overdose, including fever, poor circulation, increased heart rate, and trouble walking. Never use horsetail for longer than a month.

Serious Side Effects

Some alternative medicinal uses for horsetail can be serious and "life-threatening." Studies suggest that horsetail can affect the kidneys, causing potassium levels to drop. Low potassium has a negative effect on the heart. People who take ACE inhibitors should not use horsetail. The interaction of horsetail with the drug can cause potassium to accumulate.


The Canadian Health Protection Branch requires that manufacturers affirm in labeling that products do not have the enzyme thiaminase. Crude horsetail contains this enzyme, which destroys thiamine. EVitamins lists four categories of medications with which horsetail can negatively interact. These categories include loop diuretics, spironolactone, thiazide diuretics, and triamterene. People who use these medications should avoid using horsetail, because its diuretic property can adversely interact with them.


Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) prescribes horsetail for rheumatoid arthritis and conjunctivitis. Horsetail acts as a diuretic, which stimulates the urinary tract. Horsetail can be combined with other herbs to treat prostate conditions. However, many health professionals believe that horsetail is no longer considered safe to use. No claims about horsetail are substantiated.


Horsetail can be taken as an infusion, decoction, or in powdered or tincture forms. To use horsetail, add horsetail tincture to water and drink it as infusion. Refer to packaging for precise amounts. You can also add the infusion to bath water.

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