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Herbs & Plants

Equisetum

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Botanical Name:  Equisetum
Family: Equisetaceae
Genus: Equisetum
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Equisetopsida
Order: Equisetales

Synonyms:   Shave-grass. Bottle-brush. Paddock-pipes. Dutch Rushes. Pewterwort.

Common Names:horsetail, snake grass, puzzlegrass, Arvense and  Hyemales

Habitat :The flora of the riverside contains species that trace their lineages back to the Carboniferous or the Age of Amphibians, over 300 million years ago. These plants, known as horsetails or scouring rushes, are members of the genus Equisetum. This genus consists of 25 species and is the only living representative of what was once a large and significant component of the coal age or Carboniferous swamp forests.  They are chiefly distributed in the temperate northern regions: seven of the twenty-five known species are British, the most frequent being Equisetum arvense, E. sylvaticum, E. maximum and E. hyemale. E. arvense, the CORN HORSETAIL, is a very troublesome weed, most difficult to extirpate from cultivated land. Many of the species are very variable. The genus Equisetum is near-cosmopolitan, being absent only from Antarctica.

Description:
They are perennial plants, either herbaceous and dying back in winter as most temperate species, or evergreen as most tropical species and the temperate species rough horsetail (E. hyemale), branched horsetail (E. ramosissimum), dwarf horsetail (E. scirpoides) and variegated horsetail (E. variegatum). They typically grow 0.2-1.5 m tall, though the “giant horsetails” are recorded to grow as high as 2.5 m (northern giant horsetail, E. telmateia), 5 m (southern giant horsetail, E. giganteum) or 8 m (Mexican giant horsetail, E. myriochaetum), and allegedly even more
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Equisetum is a “living fossil” as it is the only living genus of the entire class Equisetopsida, which for over one hundred million years was much more diverse and dominated the understory of late Paleozoic forests. Some Equisetopsida were large trees reaching to 30 meters tall. The genus Calamites of the family Calamitaceae, for example, is abundant in coal deposits from the Carboniferous period.

A superficially similar but entirely unrelated flowering plant genus, mare’s tail (Hippuris), is occasionally misidentified as “horsetail”.

It has been suggested that the pattern of spacing of nodes in horsetails, wherein those toward the apex of the shoot are increasingly close together, inspired John Napier to discover logarithms

In these plants the leaves are greatly reduced and usually non-photosynthetic. They contain a single, non-branching vascular trace, which is the defining feature of microphylls. However, it has recently been recognised that horsetail microphylls are probably not ancestral as in Lycopodiophyta (clubmosses and relatives), but rather derived adaptations, evolved by reduction of megaphylls.    They are, therefore, sometimes actually referred to as megaphylls to reflect this homology.

The leaves of horsetails are arranged in whorls fused into nodal sheaths. The stems are green and photosynthetic, and are distinctive in being hollow, jointed and ridged (with sometimes 3 but usually 6-40 ridges). There may or may not be whorls of branches at the nodes.

Spores:
The spores are borne under sporangiophores in strobili, cone-like structures at the tips of some of the stems. In many species the cone-bearing shoots are unbranched, and in some (e.g. field horsetail, E. arvense) they are non-photosynthetic, produced early in spring separately from photosynthetic, sterile shoots. In some other species (e.g. marsh horsetail, E. palustre) they are very similar to sterile shoots, photosynthetic and with whorls of branches.

Horsetails are mostly homosporous, though in the field horsetail smaller spores give rise to male prothalli. The spores have four elaters that act as moisture-sensitive springs, assisting spore dispersal after the sporangia have split open longitudinally.

Medicinal uses;

The astringent, healing stems check bleeding in wounds, nosebleeds, and heavy menstruation. A strong diuretic for urinary tract and prostate disorders, they also tonify the urinary mucous membranes, can control bed-wetting, and help with skin problems. The other main use is for deep-seated damage in lung disease. Horsetail absorbs gold dissolved in water better than most plants, as much as 4 ounces per ton of fresh stalks. The amount of gold in a cup of horsetail tea is quite small, but small amounts of gold are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and the Chinese used horsetail for this.

Ellingwood suggests the following uses: dropsy, lithaemia, haematuria, gonorrhoea, gleet, irritable bladder, enuresis in children, prostatis, and the ashes for acid dyspepsia. It is often combined with Hydrangea in the treatment of prostate troubles.

This is one of the silica-containing plant drugs where the silica is largely in a water-soluble colloidal form. It is primarily a connective tissue drug, but is also considered a diuretic, though this is true only within limits. The silica is not responsible for a certain diuretic effect, which clearly is not very great and is probably due to saponins. A search has been made for other constituents that might explain the diuretic effect. A close relative of the common horsetail, Equisetum palustre. Animal experiments designed to demonstrate the diuretic properties of the horsetail came up with widely differing results. Some investigators obtained completely negative results, others noted an increase in urinary output by up to 68% in rats, and called the horsetail one of the most powerful diuretics.. Reports on the use of this plant with normal subjects and patients are similarly contradictory. The diuretic effect does not appear to have been very great in this case. Horsetail has the advantage that no harmful effects have been reported.

A more important property of this plants is the general metabolic stimulation it achieves, above all increasing connective tissue resistance. As connective tissues are also involved in rheumatic conditions, this explains the usefulness of the drug in this field. In the use of this plant, emphasis should be placed not so much on the diuretic effect, as has been generally assumed so far, but the antidyscratic and humoral actions. The key indications are therefore more in the metabolic spehre. E.g. edema of the legs tdue to metabolic causes and in many cases of rheumatoid arthritis and arthrosis. Sitz baths with equisetum extract are indicated for functional pelvic disease in women where there is no inflammation such as adnexitis or parametritis, but primarily muscular tensions and changes in muscle tone in the small pelvis that are autonomous in origin.

The silica is relatively easily dissolved out of the herb by making a decoction, 2.0g of the dried herb boiled for three hours in 200ml of water. Extraction is even better if a little sugar is added. The resulting decoction contains 55.5mg of SiO2 and is remarkably stable. Silica greatly accelerates blood coagulation, and horsetail is our best silica drug.
In China, E. hyemale is used mainly to cool fevers and as a remedy for eye inflammations, such as conjunctivitis and corneal disorder
The plant has a long history of medicinal uses, although modern sources include cautions with regard to its use. The European Food Safety Authority issued a report assessing its medicinal uses in 2009. Equisetum telmateia may be a useful source of antioxidants

Known Hazards:Some species of horsetail can be poisonous to grazing animals, including horses. The toxicity appears to be due to thiaminase enzymes, which can cause thiamine deficiency. People have regularly consumed horsetails. The young plants are eaten cooked or raw, but considerable care must be taken. Horsetail is dangerous for individuals with edema. For example, the fertile stems bearing strobili of some species are cooked and eaten like asparagus (a dish called tsukushi) in Japan. The people of ancient Rome would eat meadow horsetail in a similar manner, but they also used it to make tea as well as a thickening powder. Indians of the North American Pacific Northwest eat the young shoots of this plant raw.[18] The plants are used as a dye and give a soft green colour. An extract is often used to provide silica for supplementation. Horsetail was often used by Indians to polish wooden tools. Equisetum species are often used to analyze gold concentrations in an area due to their ability to take up the metal when it is in a solution.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horsetail
http://www.bio.umass.edu/biology/conn.river/equisetm.html

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_FGH.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Hippuris vulgaris

 

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Botanical Name : Hippuris vulgaris
Family: Plantaginaceae
Genus: Hippuris
Species: H. vulgaris
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Name :Common Mare’s tail
The species is also sometimes called Horsetail, a name which is better reserved to the Horsetails of genus Equisetum. These are unrelated to the water plant, though there is some resemblance in appearance.

Habitat : Hippuris vulgaris is a common aquatic plant of Eurasia and North America.In the United States it is found mainly in the northeast but extends southwards to New Mexico and Arizona. It prefers non-acidic waters.It grows on  pond margins, ditches etc, preferring base-rich water.

Description:
The Common Mare’s tail is a creeping, perennial herb, found in shallow waters and mud flats. It roots underwater, but most of its leaves are above the water surface. The leaves occur in whorls of 6-12; those above water are 0.5 to 2.5 cm long and up to 3 mm wide, whereas those under water are thinner and limper, and longer than those above water, especially in deeper streams. The stems are solid and unbranched but often curve, and can be up to 60 cm long. In shallow water they project 20–30 cm out of the water. It grows from stout rhizomes. The flowers are inconspicuous, and not all plants produce them.

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Cultivation:
Requires a wet soil or shallow water, preferring one that is base-rich. Dislikes shade. Plants have a spreading root system and can be very invasive.

Propagation :
Seed. We have no details on this species but suggest sowing it as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The plant spreads vegetatively so vigorously, however, that you probably won’t have to worry about growing it from seed
Edible Uses: …..Leaves and young shoots – raw or cooked. Used to make soups. They are best harvested from autumn to spring, even the brown overwintered stems in spring can be used

Medicinal Uses;
In herbal medicine, Mare’s tail has a number of uses, chiefly to do with healing wounds, e.g. stopping internal and external bleeding, curing stomach ulcers, and soothing inflammation of the skin. It has been said to absorb methane in large quantities and so to improve the air quality in the marshes where it is often found. It can however be a troublesome weed, obstructing the flow of water in rivers and ditches.

The whole plant is an effective vulnerary, the juice being taken internally or applied externally.  The old European herbalists recommended it for a number of uses, including: stopping internal and external bleeding, stomach ulcers, strengthening the intestines, closing wounds, inflammation and breakouts on the skin, coughs.  Culpepper, in common with the older herbalists, considered it of great value as a vulnerary:  ‘It is very powerful to stop bleeding, either inward or outward, the juice or the decoction being drunk, or the juice, decoction or distilled water applied outwardly…. It also heals inward ulcers…. It solders together the tops of green wounds and cures all ruptures in children. The decoction taken in wine helps stone and strangury; the distilled water drunk two or three times a day eases and strengthens the intestines and is effectual in a cough that comes by distillation from the head. The juice or distilled water used as a warm fomentation is of service in inflammations and breakings-out in the skin.’

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippuris_vulgaris
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm
http://www.smgrowers.com/products/plants/plantdisplay.asp?plant_id=2944

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Hippuris+vulgaris

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Categories
Herbs & Plants

Shavegrass.

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Botanical Name: Equisetum arvense
Family: Equisetaceae (horsetail)
Other common names: Pewterwort, Scouring Rush, Shavegrass, Equisetum, Queue de Cheval, Bottlebrush, Dutch Rushes, Giant Horsetail , Dutch Rushes, Paddock-pipes, Pewterwort, Scouring Rush, Toadpipe

Habitat: Horsetail is widely distributed throughout the temperate climate zones of the Northern hemisphere, including Asia, North America and Europe.
Description:Horsetail is an herbaceous perennial with a hairy, tuberous rhizome. The stems are erect, without leaves or hairs and have black-toothed sheaths with whorls of spreading, green branches.
HARVEST: Infertile plants in late summer. Horsetail is an ancient plant which goes through two stages of development. In early summer a fertile form rises and dies back to be followed by the more well known late summer, but infertile form. It is this later incarnation that is used.

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MEDICINAL USES:
An all-purpose herb that is good for the whole body.
Heavy in silica; strengthens fingernails and hair, especially good for split ends.
Helps body utilize and hold calcium; used in herbal calcium combinations.
Helps kidney problems, especially kidney stones.
Kills eggs of parasites and expels parasites.
Helps to dissolve tumors.
Good for eye, ear, nose, throat and glandular disorders.
Has been used in the following:

Bladder,Diuretic, Hair, Kidneys, Kidney stones , Expels parasites, worms
A source of calcium and silica.

Horsetail is a healing herb, rich in nutrients and high in silica, which helps the body absorb calcium and promotes strong, healthy nails, teeth, hair, skin and, perhaps most importantly, strong bones. This is particularly beneficial for countering the bone loss and osteoporosis experienced by menopausal women. Horsetail has strong astringent properties that have been used to control internal and external bleeding for centuries, and it also acts on the genitourinary tract to relieve many urinary ailments.

Horsetail is rich in silica, which helps to soothe and strengthen connective tissue. Silicon is a vital component for bone and cartilage formation, and it helps the body to absorb and utilize calcium,

which is of great value in treating fractures and bone diseases, including rickets and osteoporosis. Horsetail is used to strengthen bones, teeth, nails and hair. The improved cartilage helps to lessen inflammation and combat joint pain, arthritis, gout, muscle cramps, hemorrhoids, spasms and rheumatism. A French company was awarded a patent that includes isolated silica compounds from Horsetail for treating many bone disorders and rheumatoid arthritis.

The beta-carotene content in Horsetail, a compound closely related to vitamin A and sometimes the precursor to vitamin A, is believed to be beneficial to good eye health. Researchers have claimed that this nutrient may significantly decrease the risk of developing night blindness, dryness of the conjunctiva and cornea and other eye disorders.

The highly nutritious qualities of Horsetail has been effective in promoting healthy hair and nails. The silicon and magnesium content in Horsetail is said to be very helpful for improving the quality of hair. There are claims that silicon (which may be found in vegetables, fruits, horsetails and oats, etc.) will strengthen hair and cause thickening of nails and hair within weeks. There are also reports that it promotes faster growth.

It is used for the treatment of prostate problems, urinary tract infection, kidney stones, incontinence, cystitis and urethritis as well as arthritis and hemorrhage. It is helpful for repairing connective tissue and cartilage because it has high contents of silica. It is also used in healing wounds.

As a mild diuretic, Horsetail has been used to promote urination and helps to relieve kidney and gallbladder disorders. This is also said to be helpful for edema in some cases of arthritis and swelling of the legs, as well as tuberculostatic conditions. Horsetail is an herb used to treat a urine infection and an enlarged prostate gland in men. The herb is used to reduce urinary tract irritation and help relieve prostatitis, cystitis and urethritis.

Horsetail’s further effects on the urinary tract have been used to treat enuresis (bed wetting) in children and incontinence (loss of urine) in adults. Horsetail is considered mild enough for use by delicate and weak persons (although not for prolonged periods of time).

Horsetail is a powerful astringent that has made it effective for treating both internal (bleeding ulcers, etc.) and external bleeding. Those same properties have been employed to treat urinary incontinence and bed-wetting.

Women may not only find Horsetail beneficial for strengthening bones, hair and nails, but the silica is also thought to promote the growth of collagen (the protein found in connective tissue), which is a great help for improving skin health. Horsetail may be added to skin care products and to anti-ageing lotions.

When used externally, Horsetail has been used to stop bleeding wounds and promote rapid healing. It is thought to be a good wash for swollen eyelids and when used in a bath, will invigorate the body and increase circulation and metabolic rate by feeding the body through the skin.

Recommended Dosage:

Take two (2) capsules, two (2) to three (3) times each day with water at mealtimes.

 

Horsetail contains chemicals that have a mild diuretic action–they promote the loss of water from the body. Taken orally for a few days, at most, horsetail may relieve mild swelling caused by excess water in the body. Historically, it has also been used to treat bladder, kidney, and urinary tract infections, but prescription diuretics (“water pills”) and antibiotics are now much more effective for both of these uses.

More recently, horsetail has been studied for its possible usefulness in treating arthritis, osteoporosis, and other conditions of bones and cartilage. Horsetail contains relatively large amounts of silica and smaller amounts of calcium. Both silica and calcium are components of bones, joints, and connective tissues such as tendons and ligaments. It is believed that proteins in body tissues need silica to combine properly. Isolated results from early studies of animals show that horsetail may also have some pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects, which could add to its potential as a treatment for arthritis and related conditions. Some case reports relate the use of horsetail to lower incidences of osteoporosis. However, more research–including placebo-controlled studies in humans–needs to be conducted to determine whether or not horsetail may be safe and effective for bone and joint conditions.

Other chemicals in horsetail have an astringent effect that may lessen bleeding and speed healing of minor skin injuries such as cuts and scrapes when it is applied to the skin. An astringent helps shrink and tighten the top layers of skin or mucous membranes, thereby reducing secretions, relieving irritation, and improving tissue firmness. Oil distilled from horsetail has shown some anti-infective effects in laboratory studies. Because it may tighten skin tissue, horsetail is often included in nonprescription “anti-aging” skin care products.

COSMETIC:
Used for brittle nails: Make a decoction of 2 oz. dry herb in 3¾ C. (1½ pint) water for 20 minutes; soak nails.

Contraindications:
Pregnant and nursing women or men with prostate cancer should avoid Horsetail. This herb should not be used for prolonged periods of time nor in excessive amounts (many times the recommended dosage). Older adults, children and people with cardiac disease or high blood pressure should not use the herb without first consulting a physician.

Other Uses:
VETERINARY:
The tea has been used for sores on domestic animals.

DYE:
The sterile stalks produce yellow with an alum mordant; gray-green with copperas mordant; grass green with blue vitriol mordant.

GARDENING:
Biodynamic treatment for fungus diseases and rusts: Take 1½ oz. of dried herb and cover with cold water; bring to a boil and let boil 20 minutes; cool and strain; use one part to 19 parts of water and use as a spray.
PLANT DECOCTION = Slowly simmer 1 heaping cup of cut plant in 1 quart of water for 20 minutes; strain and dilute in 2 gallons of water; stir vigorously; spray with a fine mist sprayer; the more frequently it is used, the more diluted it should gradually be.
For POWDERY MILDEW = Cover fresh picked plants with water; allow to ferment 10 days; dilute and use as a spray.

Disclaimer:

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://www.drugdigest.org/DD/DVH/HerbsWho/0,3923,4126%7CShave%252Dgrass,00.html
http://www.herbalextractsplus.com/horsetail.cfm
http://www.morethanalive.com/Horsetail-Shavegrass-cut
http://www.herbsguide.net/horsetail.html

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