Shepherd’s Purse

Scientific Name/Common Name: Capsella bursa-pastoris / Shepherd’s Purse

Part(s) Used: herb/aerial portions

Constituents/Active Ingredients: flavonoids (luteolin, quercetin, rutin, hesperidin); sinigrin and other glucosinolates; amines (acetylcholine, choline, 2.33% amino acids, histamine, tyramine; volatile oils 0.02% including camphor as the major component and at least 74 components identified; fixed oil; resin; and other constituents including carotenoids, fumaric acid, sinigrin [mustard oil glucoside], ascorbic acid [vitamin C], and vitamin K.

Overview: Shepherd’s purse, also known as pick-pocket and witches’ pouches, is an annual or biennial plant native to Europe that has now naturalized as a weedy introduction to disturbed soils around the world. Its common name comes from its flat seed pouches, which look like small, heart-shaped purses. Traditionally, shepherd’s purse was used for diarrhea; urinary and bladder inflammation accompanied by urinary bleeding; hemorrhaging after childbirth; internal bleeding of the lungs and colon; as a styptic; and to treat painful menstrual periods. Externally, shepherd’s purse reduces the pain and swelling from bruises, wounds, strains, and arthritis. Both the German Commission E monographs and the German Standard License have approved shepherd’s purse to treat unusually heavy and persistent menstruation and nosebleeds. Shepherd’s purse extracts are found in many drugs and teas used to treat premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Shepherd’s purse is noted for its usefulness in treating mild forms of passive hemorrhage and is said to accomplish permanent cures in abnormally heavy menstrual or menopausal bleeding and mild forms of intestinal or gastric hemorrhage from simple ulceration. Shepherd’s purse is also used for treating dyspepsia, dysentery, and bleeding piles. Externally, shepherd’s purse juice has been applied to bruises and strains, as well as to rheumatic joints.

Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: For diarrhea, PMS symptoms, abnormal or heavy menstrual periods, and rheumatic joints. Also anti-inflammatory to the urinary system.

Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:

Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, editors. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Boston (MA): Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.

Wichtl M and NG Bisset (eds). 1994. Capsella bursa-pastoris. In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 112-114.

Jurisson S. 1971. Determination of active substances of Capsella bursa pastoris. Tartu Riiliku Ulikooli Toim 1971; (270); 71-9.

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