Shepherd's Purse - Useful Herb for Haemorrhaging

Shepherd's purse

Capsella bursa-pastoris Brassicaceae

Common throughout Europe, shepherd's purse is a weed that thrives on waste ground. Fragile, upright stems bear clusters if little white flowers followed by seedpods shaped like small pouch purses from which the plant gets its name.

Medicinal uses

Traditionally shepherd's purse was used to treat hemorrhaging after childbirth and for all forms of internal bleeding. In the First World War, it was employed to staunch bleeding when supplies of other styptic medicines, such as ergot, ran low. Today, it is prescribed as a gentle remedy for heavy periods, and can be used to stop nosebleeds.

The plant has antiseptic, diuretic and urinary properties. which make it a useful remedy for cystitis, and is also astringent and anti-inflammatory.Shepherd's purse can also cause the uterus to contract. Th is effect was demonstrated in 1969 in a study that observed the stimulating effect of the plant's alkaloids on the uterus.


The plant contains a powerfully active essential oil, choline, acetylcholine, tyramine and flavonoids.

Parts used

  • Aerial parts
  • The plant may be harvested from March to November.
  • Its active components lose some of their potency when stored.
  • It is used for infusions, tinctures and in pharmaceutical products.


Shepherd's purse will flourish in even the poorest soils. Plant in a sunny or lightly shaded spot.


  • No toxicity or undesirable side effects have been recorded to date, but shepherd's purse may have a sedative effect.
  • Do not used the herb at the same time as anticoagulants.
  • Consult a doctor before use if you are taking drugs for blood pressure, heart problems or thyroid disorders.
  • Shepherd's purse should not be used when pregnant.


For internal use

TO TREAT heavy or painful periods, piles
INFUSION Put 1-4g of dried herb into 1 cup of boiling water. Infuse for 10-15 minutes and strain. Drink 3 cups a day. TINCTURE (1:4 in 25% alcohol) Take 15 drops in water three times a day after meals.

TO TREAT nose bleeds INHALATIONS Make an infusion (see above) and allow it to cool. Use as a nasal douche, snorting it up through the nostrils.



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