Urgent for medical use - Fresh Horsetail

paghat paghatSPAMMERS-DIE at netscape.net
Thu Jan 31 20:15:29 EST 2002

In article <3C59DF5F.7760E4B8 at btinternet.com>, info at nospamEquisetum.org.uk

> Apologies for sending this again but there was no response from the last
> one - I know how quickly messages can get out of date on newsgroups.
> Please help if you can...
> I hold the NCCPG National collection of Equisetum (Horsetails) - I know,
> most gardeners are trying to get rid of them! - and I have recently been
> contacted by a lady who is trying urgently to find a source of fresh
> shoots of Equisetum arvense (field horsetail). She has a serious medical
> condition which responds very well to a drink made from fresh shoots but
> not to anything else. The plants have died back in most parts of Britain
> and her local sources have literally dried up.  She is anxious to find a
> supply of fresh shoots between now and next spring when they will return
> in abundance(!).
> I wonder if anyone living in a very mild part of Britain or indeed
> elsewhere, might have shoots still green in their garden and could send
> her some. Apparently, she needs about four shoots a day which must be
> fresh, not dried or frozen (so the commercial herbal medicine supplies
> aren't of use). She would be happy to cover any reasonable costs for
> postage, etc.
> If anyone can help, please call Sian Griffiths on 01446 781255 directly
> (+44 1446 781255).
> If you have any queries about identifying the plant etc. you can e-mail
> me at Info at Equisetum.org.uk
> Apparently, only arvense has been used so I don't know whether any other
> Equisetum species may be effective. Arvense is likely to be the most
> readily available anyway. 
> Apologies for cross posting - I wanted to reach a wide audience.
> Thanks.
> Anthony Pigott

Fresh horsetail is a WEAK diuretic of inconsequential medicinal value,
though reliable controlled studies leave no question that the diuretic
effect is definitely more than a placebo effect. 

Nevertheless, horsetail is hyped in superstition-oriented
hypochondriac-serving alternative medicine circles as much more than is
the case. Controlled studies do not support the widespread quack claims of
it assisting blood disorders, bolstering immunity, speeding the healing
process of broken bones, cancer remedy most especially for prostate
cancer, repairer of bladder disease, cure for pneumonia & tuburculosis,
cure for kidney disease, dissolver of kidney stones, bedwetting cure, skin
disease cure, beauty aid, osteopirosis & bone disease cure, & a
bacteria-killing substitute for hideously "unnatural" antibiotics. 

All fraudulant claims. 

But "freedom of the press" permits any claim to be made just so long as it
isn't made on any product label per se. Thus healthfood stores sell
horsetail remedies without stating anywhere on the packaging what the
alleged values are -- if the package did make such a statement, it would
be a crime subject to fine or imprisonment. Nothing, alas, keeps the
misnomered health food industry from selling a book of about the alleged
values of every bottle of crap they are selling, just so long as it isn't
placed next to the jars of crap.

Being useless as a medicine it is also by & large harmless as to side
effect. The exception is that people who actually are sick may obtain more
of a diuretic effect than intended, flush their system of potassium, &
become extremely ill indeed. The commercial products are essentially
nothing but "garden rubble" & don't even have the mild diuretic effect,
but fresh horsetail could have the same negative impact as any other
diuretic, particularly on the elderly, pregnant women, anyone actually
sick the more so children. Unfortunately some of the things horsetail
allegedly cures, any diuretic would in reality worsen, & that since the
standard quack instruction is to dose oneself with it two to four times
per day, without warnings of longterm abuse of diuretics, it seems likely
that your eager friend is putting herself at risk & you should not be
risking your own professional standing (if any) helping her avoid an
actual physician. I would think "Equisetum.org" if such an organization
exists, or the higher ups of the NCCPG plant collection, would have
careful instructions how to handle "alternative medicine" wackos seeking
agency assistance in obtaining herbs -- & helping sickly or hypochondriac
loons go shopping wouldn't be part of the instruction.

Only the tepidity of the effect of horsetail keeps a lot of people from
hurting themselves with these sorts of superstitious remedies. But if they
did shit their intestines out from diuretic abuse, you'd be putting
yourself in the way of legal responsibility. I realize many NCCPG
gardeners are just humble individual gardeners with no paid affiliation,
but if you pull stunts in the name of that charitable plant society, you
put it in addition to yourself at risk.

Since the placebo effect is mighty, your contactee may have some benefit
because she believes she has some benefit. So if you must risk legal
responsibility for someone else's folly, send her some fennel celery
crunched up with a bit of horse manure compost (sterilized of course) to
give it the "fresh swampwater" look & familiar horsetail flavor, & tell
her it's Extra Strength Horsema...tail. She'll feel so much better in a

-paghat the ratgirl

"Paghat, go stuff your face with ratdroppings." -elly ratwoman at zonnet.nl
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