Horsetail for Urinary Tract Infections
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Name not given
Posted on: May 13, 2001

I have been using Horsetail herb to treat urinary tract infections for over 10 years. I was switching doctors and went to a doctor who also practices homeopathy and some herbal medicine. At our first or second visit I had a UTI [urinary tract infection], and he gave me a homeopathic remedy containing horsetail among other ingredients, told me to drink Horsetail tea, and gave me a prescription for antibiotics because he could see I had my doubts about homeopathy. I also had doubts about using a herbal remedy for UTIs because I had been taking Uva ursi and cranberry with no success. I never did fill my prescription for the antibiotics, and the infection was cleared up in a day. After that I took only Horsetail every time I felt one coming on. Have you heard of this before? I can’t really find that much reference to its use. It is always mentioned, but not many herbalists would recommend horsetail alone for this problem. I know its an herb which requires responsible use, but I don’t see it as being so dangerous that it should be almost ignored this purpose.

Also, I was wondering if you had anything with reference to Horsetail’s antibiotic properties, or any other reason why it would cure this condition. Do you have anything on Horsetail and E.coli?

I would appreciate anything you can find to help because I’m trying to convince someone else that they should give it a try. I was so glad not to take antibiotics after this. Its very empowering.

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) helps to heal urinary tract infection by its actions as a urinary tract astringent and healer. Horsetail’s silica content is thought to be responsible for its healing and astringent actions. The silica promotes cell repair. Horsetail’s astringent action reduces blood and mucous secretion by contracting blood vessels and body tissues. Thomas Bartram, in "Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine" (available at Richters), includes immune enhancement and white blood cell stimulation in its actions.

Horsetail has a high mineral content. Elimination of these minerals from the kidney can cause kidney strain if horsetail is used for periods of longer than one month. This is one reason for caution with its use. Another reason for caution is that the species of horsetail in the herbal preparation may not be properly identified. Species other than Equisetum arevense are more likely to cause kidney strain.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is a urinary antiseptic and astringent that helps to stop bleeding from tissues. Cranberry prevents bacteria from clinging to the urinary tract.

As long as urinary tract tissue is inflamed, healing will not happen. Herbalists and other natural health care practitioners assess each patient individually, and recommend a combination of herbs, diet and lifestyle as indicated from their patient assessment. Horsetail alone will not work to heal all urinary tract infections for all people. The cause of the problem must be identified and treated. Factors can include the use of tampons, lack of healthy intestinal bacteria, low immune resistance and high stress levels. A herbal prescription may include antibiotics, soothing, astringing herbs, tissue healers, nerve relaxants, pain killers and diuretics, depending on the patient’s condition.

E.coli (Escherichia coli) infection is common in urinary tract infections, usually caused by contamination of the vagina or urethra by feces from the bowel, or from contamination during sexual intercourse. To avoid infection , women are advised to always wipe from front to back, and always to urinate immediately before and after intercourse.

Your friend should consult a medical practitioner to determine the factors involved in her infection. A specific herbal antibiotic may be recommended. Prescription antibiotics result in reduced immune resistance, and a reduction of healthy bowel flora. When prescription antibiotics have been taken, immune enhancers and dietary recommendations, including yogurt with active bacterial cultures, may be recommended to promote healing.

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