English physician Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) wrote:
“This plant is a remarkable instance of the truth of an observation. Few plants possess greater virtues than this, and yet it is utterly disregarded. It helps all fluxes of blood, either caused by inward or outward wounds. It is also used where there is flux of the belly and bloody flux, and spitting and voiding of the blood. It will stop the terms for women. The juice dropped into the ears, heals the pains, noise and mattering’s thereof.”
Shepherd’s purse was carried by migrating Europeans and established itself wherever they settled by setting seed in waste ground, ditches, fields and along road sides. It’s also known as Shepherd’s Bag, Pick Purse, Mother’s Heart and Lady’s Pouches due to its heart-shaped, triangular fruit resembling a purse. Its botanical name is Capsella bursa-pastoris and is a common wildflower belonging to the mustard family.
The Uses of Shepherd’s Purse
When dried and made into a tea, it is considered one of the best hemostatics, as it constricts the blood vessels and regulates high or low blood pressure, as well as heart action. Beneficial for a bleeding nose, stomach, intestine or uterus, it should be drunk before and after childbirth to prevent and control internal haemorrhaging.
In cases of excessive menstruation, drinking two cups daily about 7-8 days before the onset can help to regulate the menstrual cycle. A decoction of the herb is most effective to stop bleeding wounds and sitz baths can be useful for haemorrhoids, chronic diarrhoea and dysentery.
Due to its excellent astringent properties, drink Shepherd’s purse in cases of hernia, prolapsed uterus or rectum. The tea is also diuretic and is indicated in fluid retention, as it increases the flow of urine.
Renowned herbalist Maria Treben recommends:
“For external muscular disorders this medicinal herb is an especially important aid. For limb or muscular atrophy, if nothing else helps, rub Shepherd’s purse tincture into the skin several times daily; four cups of Lady’s mantle tea are taken internally.”
No shepherd would be without his purse and its valuable contents, and neither should we – you don’t need a flock of sheep to benefit from Shepherd’s purse!