Supplements & Herbs

Sebastian Kneipp on the medicinal power of horsetail / shavegrass

(Equisetum arvense)

Horsetail, one of herbalist Maria Treben's most essential disease-fighting herbs, also has been favoured by famous naturopath and priest Sebastian Kneipp (1821–1897), father of the "Kneipp Cure" (a system of hydrotherapy) which typically combines water applications with herbal treatments.[1]

In the first edition of his book "My Water Cure" (1886), he lauded shavegrass in these terms: "Any tumor, be it benign or malignant, will be stopped and gradually dissolved by using horsetail." He was stopped by the medical powers that be of his time to repeat the same claim in subsequent editions of his book. But even the tenth edition (published just three years later) had the highest praise for the herb:

"The excellent and versatile effectualness of this medicinal herb can't be recommended too much. Not only does it cleanse the tableware... it also heals the inner and outer infirmities of the human body as well.

On old injuries, putrefying wounds, on all, even cancerous ulcers, or caries (progressive destruction of the bone — Fr. Kneipp furnished an impressive example thereof), horsetail serves in an extraordinary manner. It cleanses, dissolves, cauterises away so to speak all that is defective and damaged.

The herb is applied either as a decoction (for ablutions, bandages, and poultices), or, particularly in certain fomentations (vapour treatments), wrapped up in wet cloths and placed on the suffering part.

Even more versatile are the services rendered by horsetail taken internally.

Its tea which can never do harm cleanses the stomach. It is advised to drink a cup from time to time (not daily). It alleviates the pains caused by gravel and stones, and above all helps those who have difficulty passing urine. In this it is unparalleled, irreplacable, and priceless.

Using horsetail vapours particularly for these afflictions is only just hinted at here. It is precisely this kind of illness which is excruciatingly painful — and so common! Take good note of the simple and easily available pain-killing herb! In addition to its exterior application which is optional, sufferers should drink a cup of horsetail tea a day.

For haemorrhages and blood-vomiting, it ranks among the first and best teas. Someone vomiting blood should take it as a matter of urgency. I have known cases where only four minutes later all vomiting ceased.

With heavy nosebleeds, one keeps pulling up the tea through the nostrils. It has an astringent effect and quickly brings help. I recommend those suffering from hemorrhages take one or two cups of the tea a day.

Every medicine chest should hold a sufficient reserve of horsetail so that in times of need which often arise without warning, it is readily at hand."

Among many other things, Fr. Kneipp's books contain reports of people with serious bladder/kidney infection which were brought back (nearly from death's door and always after suffering for months or years) with mostly horsetail tea and vapours. A personal friend's serious bladder infection was near-instantly healed after drinking herbal "bladder" tea whose main ingredient was horsetail.

Sebastian Kneipp's books

Fr. Kneipp's books contain invaluable and sometimes jaw-dropping accounts of healings of all manner of frequently desperate illness achieved with the apparently simplest and cheapest of means.

Among other dramatic cures effected are those of stroke victims (including one expected to die) brought back to life and healthy functioning via water applications, and extreme chronic cystitis healed with horsetail and juniper berry tea and horsetail fomentations.

As with other old authors (compare for instance Medicinal cabbage leaf poultices), it seems we'd do well to take advantage of Kneipp's mostly forgotten knowledge. See Listing of books by Sebastian Kneipp.

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1 Background under Eliminating toxins with Sebastian Kneipp's "Water Cure".

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