The use of biochemical aids to enhance athletic performance has a long history. In our current sporting culture we attempt to divide these between the accepted legal ‘ergogenic aids’ and the unacceptable performance-enhancing ‘drugs’. It is unclear whether this distinction would have been made 2000 years ago when Pliny the Elder reported the effects of Horsetail juice on performance. Interestingly, the sporting ergogenic effects of horsetail haven’t passed the test of time. In the middle ages its astringency, due to its high silica content, made it ideal for scouring pewter and wooden kitchen utensils. The juice's current ergogenic properties are more refined, its main use being in bath and shower products where a ‘natural conditioning effect’ is required. Perhaps more controversially, hidden amongst his 600 books, Claudius Galen, the 2nd century Greek physician to the gladiators, mentioned the positive effects...

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