Plant Profiler

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) Image
Synonyms / Common Names / Related Terms
Bottle brush, cola de caballo, common horsetail, common scouring rush, corncob plant, corn horsetail, Dutch rush, Equisetaceae (family), Equisetum arvense, Equisetum myriochaetum, Equisetum ramosissimum, Equisetum telmateia, field horsetail, horse willow, hippuric acid, homovanillic acid, horsetail grass, horsetail rush, mokuzoku, mokchok, muzei (E. hymale), paddock pipes, pewterwort, prele, pribes des champs, running clubmoss, Schachtelhalm, scouring rush, Shenjincao, shave grass, toadpipe, Wenjing, Zinnkraut,

Crude drugs derived from Equisetum arvense include Wenjing, Jiejiecao, and Bitoucai.

Combination product examples: Goldenrod-Horsetail® (Herb Pharm Compounds) (liquid extract including 22.5% goldenrod flowering tips, 22.5% corn silk, 22.5% horsetail, 22.5% pipsissewa leaf, and 10% juniper berry); Osteosil® calcium (combination of horsetail and , available in Italy); Eviprostat®.

Note: Equisetum arvense should not be confused with members of the genus Laminaria, bladderwrack, or brown alga, for which "horsetail" has been used as a synonym.

Mechanism of Action


  • Constituents: The benzoic acid derivative hippuric acid and the quercetin derivative homovanillic acid are metabolites of Equisestum arvense.5 Crude drugs derived from Equisetum arvense include Wenjing, Jiejiecao, and Bitoucai.6
  • Antioxidant effects: Equisetum telmateia may be a useful source of antioxidants with huge scavenger ability.1
  • Diuretic effects: There is limited research regarding the mechanism of action of horsetail. Horsetail possesses weak diuretic properties, which are believed to be due to equisetonin and flavone glycosides. In one human trial examining patients with a history of nephrolithiasis, an 18-24% statistically significant increase in diuresis was noted in those taking horsetail vs. baseline after 8-12 weeks; these individuals had an increase in glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of 22%.3 Horsetail was also noted to lower urine pH. Renal excretion of uric acid increased as did urine uric acid crystal formation.
  • Hepatoprotective effects: The phenolic petrosin onitin and flavonoid luteolin isolated from Equisetum arvense L. (Equisetaceae) exhibited hepatoprotective activities on tacrine-induced cytotoxicity in human liver cells, displaying EC50 values of 85.8 ± 9.3mcM and 20.2 ± 1.4mcM, respectively.2
  • Steroidal effects: Sterols contained in Equisetum arvense include beta-sitosterol, campesterol, isofucosterol, and trace amounts of cholesterol.4


  • Insufficient available evidence.


  1. Stajner, D., Popovic, B. M., Canadanovic-Brunet, J., and Boza, P. Free radical scavenging activity of three Equisetum species from Fruska gora mountain. Fitoterapia 2006;77(7-8):601-604. 16934417
  2. Oh, H., Kim, D. H., Cho, J. H., and Kim, Y. C. Hepatoprotective and free radical scavenging activities of phenolic petrosins and flavonoids isolated from Equisetum arvense. J Ethnopharmacol  2004;95(2-3):421-424. 15507369
  3. Tiktinskii, O. L. and Bablumian, I. A. [Therapeutic action of Java tea and field horsetail in uric acid diathesis]. Urol Nefrol (Mosk) 1983;3(1):47-50. 6829092
  4. D'Agostino, M., Dini, A., Pizza, C., Senatore, F., and Aquino, R. Sterols from Equisetum arvense. Boll Soc Ital Biol Sper  12-30-1984;60(12):2241-2245. 6529502
  5. Graefe, E. U. and Veit, M. Urinary metabolites of flavonoids and hydroxycinnamic acids in humans after application of a crude extract from Equisetum arvense. Phytomedicine 1999;6(4):239-246. 10589442
  6. Nitta, A., Yoshida, S., and Tagaeto, T. A comparative study of crude drugs in Southeast Asia. X. Crude drugs derived from Equisetum species. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 1977;25(5):1135-1139. 264177

Licensed by Natural Standard Copyright © 2010 by Natural Standard Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

back to Plant Profiler
back to top