25 Extraordinary Uses for Shepherd’s PurseI often get asked, out of the millions of herbs growing on this Earth, what few I would choose to include in my herbal home first aid kit. Well there are a few, but shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa pastoris) is definitely one of them. If you’ve never heard of it, you’re probably not alone—but take one look at the picture and I’m sure you will have seen it all around the place.
It gained its name due to the fact that the plant’s leaves resemble the kind of leather purse which used to be carried by shepherds in times past. While it has a plethora of other names, ‘shepherd’s purse’ is by far the most common.
The reason this herb is definitely one for the natural first aid kit is because of its amazing ability to stop all kinds of haemorrhaging almost immediately, doing so in a gentle manner, and tolerated well by the body. This may be because of the plant’s high levels of Vitamin K. Interestingly, this herb is actually a member of the mustard family.
To make a tea, boil 2 cups of water and add two tablespoons of dry shepherd’s purse. Cover and remove from the heat, allowing the herb to infuse for 45 minutes (obviously in the case of an emergency, this time can be lessened or a tincture used). The strained mixture can be drunk hot or cold, but it seems to work particularly well when cold. To make it more palatable, sweeteners such as stevia or honey can be added.
The herb quickly begins to lose its medicinal properties once it has been dried, and should be discarded after a year at the most. For this reason, shepherd’s purse tincture (which can be stored for years) is preferable to dry shepherd’s purse in your natural first aid kit.
Though many people are unaware of just how valuable this plant is, this list of 25 different uses for shepherd’s purse will be sure to convince you that this is definitely one herb that no house should be without!
- Stop nosebleeds by soaking a cotton wool ball in some shepherd’s purse tea or tincture, and put this in the nostril. Nosebleeds are a common, but fortunately non-serious, health complaint that children, in particular, seem prone to. Any family must have some shepherd’s purse on hand for those times the kids suffer a bloody nose.
- For internal bleeding, including ulcers and hernias, drink half a cup of shepherd’s purse tea, or take some tincture, every hour. Most effective results are obtained when the herb is taken on an empty stomach. The herb constricts the blood vessels and therefore encourages any bleeding to stop.
- For treatment of wounds, ulcers, bites and scratches, soak a cloth with some shepherd’s purse tea, or do the same with some diluted tincture in water, and hold against the wound until the bleeding stops.
- For any pregnant woman, this herb is a must-have. After childbirth, the tea should be drunk cold, and several cups at a time. Alternatively, as many droppers of the tincture as possible can be consumed, to control post-partum haemorrhaging. For many women, haemorrhaging is one of the most terrifying aspects of childbirth, so to know that there is a herb which can be safely taken to prevent this happening really is a relief. It is exactly for this reason that every good naturally-minded midwife carries some of this herb with her. For situations such as home births, shepherd’s purse can mean the difference between a calm, successful birth and an unplanned, emergency trip to the hospital.
- For many people, there is nothing scarier than seeing blood in the toilet bowl. For those suffering from bloody bowel movements or blood in the urine, the tea or tincture can also be taken. Since it is also an astringent, it also effectively disinfects the urinary tract in the case of urinary tract infections. For this reason it is also effective in the treatment of diarrhoea or dysentery.
- Although mainly used to prevent bleeding, this herb is also an emmenagogue, and thus can be used by women who have irregular menstrual cycles to encourage menstrual discharge, prevent long periods and ease menstrual cramping. In particular, it is effective for use in women who experience menstrual problems due to conditions such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids.In fact, here is one of many testimonials that women are writing in with about shepherd’s purse:
“I have been diagnosed with Fibroids. Heavy menstrual bleeding for 20 years, I wear 2 tampons, a pad and a depends. Dr suggests hysterectomy. But now I am 47 and close to menopause. I only believe in surgery for medical emergencies. Too many women have unnecessary hystos. A friend recommended shephards purse to me 6 months ago. I took it and on the first day my extremely heavy period stopped. I mean, no bleeding, I could not believe it, I took it 2 more days and no bleeding. I skipped 2 days and the bleeding started again…Gave to my daughter who had her first heavy period at age 28. Bleeding stopped immediately. I don’t know how it works, but after 20 years of a poor quality of life I now have freedom…”
- Shepherd’s purse is also classified as an oxytocic herb—i.e. it promotes childbirth. For this reason it should not be taken by pregnant women until the end of the pregnancy, but can be taken by women whose pregnancy is overdue and who wish to avoid having their pregnancy induced through medical intervention. Quite often, the intervention involved with an induction is just the beginning of a chain reaction of medical interventions that the birthing woman will be told are essential for her welfare and her child’s. Avoiding induction in the first place is the best thing any woman at the end of her pregnancy can do! Shepherd’s purse effectively helps the uterus to contract after the birth of the baby. As well as being taken before and after childbirth, sipping hot shepherd’s purse tea during labour can encourage contractions.
- Pharmaceutical companies make billions these days from blood pressure regulating medication. In SO many cases, these drugs are TOTALLY unnecessary, since nature provides us with the means to maintain a healthy blood pressure reading. Shepherd’s purse is a hypotensive herb, which means it can be taken by those with high blood pressure in order to lower it. Conversely, however, when blood pressure is too low, the herb can raise it, as, like cayenne, it helps to regularise blood pressure depending on the sufferer’s reading, and end the dependence on blood pressure medications once and for all!
- Shepherd’s purse contains fumaric acid, and tests on lab animals have proven it to lessen the growth of some tumours in mice. It has been used for many years by people in the fight against cancer.
- Research has shown the herb to have anti-inflammatory properties, and effectively reduce fevers.
- Shepherd’s purse has been used for problems related to the heart and circulation, including mild cases of heart failure.
- The herb has also been used by many for the relief of headaches.
- Traditionally, the fresh herb has been used to stop ear aches, with the juice being placed directly into the ear. A tincture could be used for the same purpose if the fresh herb is unavailable. Since ear aches are one of many conditions that children are more prone to than adults, this is yet another reason every family needs this herb!
- Shepherd’s purse has been used to heal colic.
- Because the herb increases the flow of the urine, it has been used for quick relief of problems such as kidney ailments and dropsy (oedema)
- A shepherd’s purse compress is used for relief of rheumatic joints, as well as bruises.
- It has also been used to help alleviate jaundice, when a compress, or the bruised fresh herb, is applied to the wrists or soles of the feet. This is invaluable knowledge for those with newborns who want to avoid those bright blue lights for their little one.
- Those who feed the herb to chickens report that when eaten by these birds, the egg yolks the animals produce become darker and richer in colour and stronger (many would argue better, too) in flavour.
- The great herbalist Dr. John Christopher recommends including the herb as part of your diet, as it is a good general tonic and encourages healthy digestion.
- Swollen breasts due to lactation have been relieved after the herb has been applied.
- Shepherd’s purse is eaten by the poor in many areas, due to its nutritional content. The Chinese characters which name the herb translate to ‘protecting life plant’, partly because the Chinese believe the plant discourages the presence of mosquitoes.
- When used in a mixture of agrimony, lady’s slipper, corn silk, oak bark and liquorice root, shepherd’s purse is said to stop the problem of bedwetting. Alternatively, it can be mixed with agrimony and yarrow for the same reason.
- Though the plant tests low for Vitamin C, the way in which the plant is processed by the digestive system means that it is thought to help prevent scurvy.
- Those suffering from health problems such as muscular atrophy, are recommended to drink shepherd’s purse tea and massage the affected areas of the body with this mixture, to gain relief.
- Haemorrhoids are a terribly uncomfortable health problem that many are too embarrassed to talk about, yet—particularly with the low-fibre diets that people are often on—it is all too common. Shepherd’s purse can be used as a treatment of bleeding haemorrhoids.
As you can see, this wonderful herb has such a wide range of uses that no family can afford not to have some on hand!
Share this Post