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 Herbal Materia Medica: Shephard's Purse 

Capsella bursa-pastoris


Habitat: A common plant growing in many parts of the world.

Collection: The herb can be collected from February until October.

Part Used: Aerial parts.


  • Flavonoids; luteolin-7-rutinoside andquercitin-3-rutinoside
  • Polypeptides of undetermined structure
  • Plant acids; fumaric and bursic acids
  • Bases; choline, acetylcholine, histamine, tyramine.

Actions: Astringent, diuretic, anti-inflammatory.

Indications: This easily recognized plant may be used wherever a gently diuretic is called for, for instance in water retention due to kidney problems. As an astringent it will prove effective in the treatment of diarrhea, wounds, nose bleeds, and other conditions. It has specific use in the stimulation of the menstrual process whilst also being of use in the reduction of excess flow.

Priest & Priest tell us that it is a "mild relaxing and gently stimulating to the kidneys and urinary tract: relieves atonic and catarrhal conditions, and controls hemorrhages. Tonic to the pelvic organs. Especially indicated when the urine is heavy with phosphatic and `brick dust 'sediments" They give the following specific indications: vesico-renalirritations from atonic states. Enuresis. Passive capillary hemorrhages, functional menorrhagia, bleeding fibroid tumors, metrorrhagia. Congestive leucorrhoea. Internal hemorrhage of lungs and bowels, recurrent epistaxis. Hemorrhoids.

Ellingwood recommends it for the following pathologies: hæmaturia, passive hemorrhage, chronic menorrhagia, intestinal hemorrhage, gastric hemorrhage, atonic dyspepsia, diarrhea, dysentary, bleeding piles. Externally may be applied to bruised or strained muscles, rheumatic joints.

Combinations: Combines well with Agrimony, Cranesbill or Periwinkle

Preparations & Dosage: Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water ontol-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb and leave to infuse for l- minutes. If it is used for menstrual conditions, it should be drunk every 2-3 hours during and just before the period. Otherwise drink it three times a day. Tincture: take l-2ml of the tincture three times a day.

Citations from the Medline database for the genus Capsella

Shephard's Purse Iurisson SM. [Vitamin content in shepherd's purse (Capsella bursa pastoris (L.)Medic.)]

Farmatsiia (1976 Jul-Aug) 25 (4):66-7 Kuroda K Akao M. Effect of Capsella bursa-pastoris on liver catalase activity in rats fed3'-methyl-4-(dimethylamino) azobenzene.

Gann (1975 Aug) 66 (4):461-2 Kuroda K Akao M Kanisawa M Miyaki K. Inhibitory effect of Capsella bursa-pastoris extract on growth of Ehrlich solid tumor in mice.

Cancer Res (1976 Jun) 36(6): 1900-3 Kuroda K Akao M Kanisawa M Miyaki K. Inhibitory effect of Capsella bursa-pastoris on hepatocarcino-genesis induced by 3-methyl-4-(dimethylamino) azobenzene in rats.

Gann (1974 Aug) 65(4): 317-21 Kuroda K Kaku T. Pharmacological and chemical studies on the alcohol extract of Capsellabursa-pastoris.

Life Sci (1969 Feb 1) 8(3): 151-5 Kuroda K Takagi K. Physiologically active substance in Capsella bursa-pastoris.

Nature (1968 Nov 16) 220 (168): 707-8 Kuroda K Takagi K. Studies on capsella bursa pastoris. I. General pharmacology of ethanol extract of the herb.

Arch Int Pharmacodyn Ther (1969 Apr) 178 (2): 382-91 Kuroda K Takagi K. Studies on capsella bursa pastoris. II. Diuretic, anti-inflammatory &anti-ulcer action of the herb.

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 About The Author
David Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMHWhilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it......more
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