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Equisetum

Horsetail

Equisetum hyemale & E. arvense

A ‘living fossil' known as horsetail, (other names puzzle grass and snake grass) forms the basis of the homeopathic remedy equisetum. In fact, horsetail is the sole living genus in the Equisetaceae, comprising a family of vascular plants that reproduce by spores and not seeds.

In effect, horsetail is a direct progeny of a massive plant resembling ferns that swathed the earth about 400 million years back. Presently, comparatively a very small adaptation of this prehistoric plant that has resemblance to asparagus may be found growing naturally in sandy or humid soil beside the creeks and streams during early spring.

As aforementioned, horsetail is known as a ‘living fossil' as it happens to be the sole living genus of the whole class Equisetopsida. In fact, for about 100 million years, plants belonging to Equisetopsida were not only more diverse in nature, but they had also taken over the understory of the erstwhile Paleozoic (pertaining to an age that occurred between 570 million and 230 million years ago) forests. A number of plants belonging to the class Equisetopsida were actually huge trees that grew up to 30 meters in height. For instance, the genus Calamites belonging to the family of Calamitaceae formed abundant deposits of coal during the Carboniferous (the phase of geologic time from roughly 360 million to 286 million years ago) period.

Horsetail is an herbal medication whose use dates back to the ancient Roman and Greek medicine. Conventionally, horsetail was used to stop bleeding, cure wounds and ulcers as well as treat tuberculosis and kidney ailments. In fact, the name Equisetum has been derived from the Latin term ‘equus' denoting ‘horse' and ‘seta' meaning ‘bristle'. This herb encloses silicon that has a major role in fortifying the bones. Owing to this attribute of horsetail, this herbal medicine is occasionally recommended as a remedy for osteoporosis. In addition, in herbal medicine, horsetail is also used as a diuretic and also as a component in the manufacturing of a number of cosmetics.

As mentioned earlier, horsetail is inherited from massive plants resembling trees which existed some 400 million years back in the Paleozoic period. This plant is said to be an intimate family member of the fern. Horsetail is basically a non-flowering weed that is found growing all over Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East. It is a perennial plant re-emerging every year and has hollow stalks and shoots that closely resemble the asparagus. When the plant dries out or is dehydrated, the silica crystals contained by it in the stems and the branches appear to be feathery tails providing the plant with a scratching or scraping effect. This scratching effect of the plant forms the basis of its extraordinary use in shining metals, especially pewter (an alloy of tin having a silver-gray color).

People have used the horsetail herb traditionally to cure wound since the period dating back to the 1st century BCE. Owing to its robustly coarse property, people used equisetum for scouring pots between the period from the Middle Ages and more recently, the 18th century.

People who benefit most from using the homeopathic remedy equisetum are those who are bad-tempered as well as get exhausted quite easily. This homeopathic remedy is primarily used to treat aching irritation of the urinary bladder that may be painful, full and sore. People enduring such health conditions usually experience a feeling of throbbing pressure on both sides of the lower abdomen as well as the urinary bladder. Usually, the pain becomes very intense after passing urine. Such individuals may also have a continuous need to pass urine, maybe with trickling of urine or their urine may also contain mucus.

Parts used

The fresh plant is used to prepare the homeopathic remedy equisetum. In fact, the entire plant, counting the root, is first crushed into a pulp and subsequently steeped or marinated in alcohol to obtain the useful homeopathic medication equisetum.

Uses

Plants belonging to the equisetum genus are considered to be poisonous for livestock, but have been used for various medicinal purposes, especially to heal wounds, since time immemorial. In China, physicians use the horsetail to cure eye complaints, flu, dysentery and also hemorrhoids (unusually distended veins primarily due to a constant augmentation in venous pressure, occurring within the anal sphincter of the rectum and underneath the mucous membrane).

The homeopathic remedy equisetum is mainly used to treat symptoms related to a painful urinary bladder and trickling of urine or when the urine contains mucus. While most of the symptoms in this case have a resemblance to those of cystitis or inflammation of the urinary bladder, in this instance the patients do not suffer from any type of contagion. In addition, equisetum is also effective in curing bedwetting in children, especially occurring during their dreams or nightmares.

The action of this homeopathic medicine in treating urinary complaints is remarkable. It is very beneficial for patients who have a recurrent and unendurable need to pass urine, a symptom that is accompanied with acute pain when the person has completed urination. In addition, people who respond best to equisetum are those who have problems in passing urine and their urine normally trickles drop by drop. Such patients normally experience an intense hurtful pain in the urethra while passing urine. The homeopathic medicine equisetum is also useful in treating polyuria (the passing of too much urine like in the case of diabetes or in certain cases of nervous disorders) accompanied by continuous longing to pass urine. Patients suffering from this condition usually pass excessive urine that is clear and watery, but do not get any relief even after urination. At the same time, they undergo an acute dull pain in the urinary bladder as if they still retain urine in the bladder since there is no relief even after excessive urination.

As aforementioned, the homeopathic remedy equisetum is also effective in treating enuresis or bedwetting in children. Children suffering from this health condition pass excessive of watery urine during the day as well as night. When children endure enuresis, they are unable to restrain the natural urinary discharges which are usually accompanied by dreams or nightmares. Apart from incontinence of urine, they also pass stool involuntarily. This homeopathic medicine is also useful for women as it is effective in treating urine retention as well as dysuria (difficult and painful urination) during and after pregnancy. In addition, turning to the homeopathic remedy equisetum is also useful in curing cystitis. People suffering from cystitis usually experience profound pain in the area around the right kidney and the soreness spreads to the lower abdominal region as the patients feel an urgent need to pass urine.

At times, the homeopathic medicine equisetum is also useful in treating medical conditions wherein cantharis fails to provide any relief to the patients. Even after using cantharis, some patients may endure the same urge to pass urine, while the soreness in the urinary bladder persists. In such cases, the patients have a sensation that the bladder is full of urine that needs to be excreted with a view to get relief from the pain as well as the pressure. Nevertheless, even after urination, these individuals do not get any relief and feel the urge to urinate again. In such cases, the patients also experience a burning sensation inside the urethra while passing urine. However, when such patients turn to equisetum, the patients pass more amounts of urine compared to what is urinated using cantharis - usually there is very little urination following the use of cantharis, but also urinate very frequently. However, the use of cantharis only persuades urination drop by drop. Similar to chimaphila, at times, use of equisetum also results in urination with excessive mucus and the homeopathic medication is also effective in treating enuresis or bedwetting.

Equisetum is one of the herbal medications that has originated in Asia and is used extensively in Chinese medicine. In homeopathy, equisetum is an established therapy that is particularly effective and beneficial in treating all types of urinary bladder problems. In addition, this homeopathic remedy also facilitates in relieving anxiety.

This homeopathic medication is safe as well as helpful for children who wet their beds during sleep at night or during the day. In other words, the homeopathic remedy equisetum is effective for children who do not have control during their sleep, particularly when they experience nightmares. In effect, any child who wets the bed at night is also likely to complain of dull pains in the region of the urinary bladder during the day. At the same time, such children have a sensation of fullness of the urinary bladder and recurrent urge or need to pass urine. Generally speaking, the homeopathic remedy equisetum may perhaps be useful in treating any type of urinary incontinence (failure to restrain natural discharges of urine).

Source

Plants belonging to the genus Equisetum are almost cosmopolitan by nature since they are present all over the world, barring Antarctica. As discussed earlier, horsetail is a perennial plant, occurring every year. These plants may be herbaceous and wither away every winter like most of the other temperate species or may be evergreen similar to the tropical species as well as the temperate species - for instance, branched horsetail (E. ramosissimum), rough horsetail (E. hyemale), variegated horsetail (E. variegatum) and dwarf horsetail (E. scirpoides). Plants belonging to this genus usually grow up to a height of 0.2 to 1.5 meter. However, the ‘giant horsetails' are known to be very tall plants growing up to a height of 2.5 meters (for instance, the northern giant horsetail or E. telmateia), 5 meters like the southern giant horsetail, E. giganteum or the Mexican giant horsetail, E myriochaetum (8 meters). Some of the plants of this genus are reported to grow even taller.

Several plants belonging to the Equisetum genus have a preference for moist sandy soils, while some of them are partially aquatic. In addition, a number of species of this genus have also adapted themselves to the damp clay soils. The stalks of the plants of this genus emerge from rhizomes that grow quite deep below the soil often making it impossible to dig them out. On the other hand, the species field horsetail (botanical name, E. arvense) may be a bothering weed that grows and re-grows easily from the rhizomes even after the tuberous root of the plant is pulled out of the soil. Interestingly enough, several insecticides meant for killing seed plant do not have any affect, whatsoever, on this species. Nevertheless, since the species field horsetail (E. arvense) has a preference for an acid soil, using lime may perhaps help to eradicate this plant from a garden provided the soil pH is increased to 7 or 8. In Australia as well as in the state of Oregon in the United States, authorities have declared the members of Equisetum genus as toxic weeds.

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