Shepherd’s Purse

Reduce heavy menstrual bleeding, stop nosebleeds, ease diarrhea and soothe hemorrhoids.

“Few plants possess greater virtues than this, and yet it is utterly disregarded” Nicholas Culpeper, 1653

Shepherd's Purse Barefoot HerbsYet another weed that takes over the garden in a blink of eye, but as Culpeper says, it is disregarded as a useful herb.

It does grow extremely quickly.  It seems like I see a tiny rosette of leaves, and the next day there is a long spike of little purses ready to spread the seed everywhere! As long as the soil isn’t rock hard, they can be pulled out quite easily.  There is a long tap-root and no spreading runners, so you only have to worry about the thousands of tiny seeds if you have let it go to flower.

Medicinal: Although its primary use is to treat heavy periods, it will stop any bleeding such as cuts, nosebleeds and hemorrhoids, and is also used for chronic diarrhea.  In fact, during World War One, doctors used Shepherd’s Purse when there were no supplies of other drugs.

A hot infusion sipped during labour will stimulate contractions, and after the delivery it will ease bleeding.  As it is a uterine stimulant it should not be taken during pregnancy.

In Western medicine the whole plant is used and usually taken as a strong infusion, three times a day for heavy menstruation.  For external bleeding dip a cloth into a strong infusion and apply to the wound.  In China the flowers are separated and used for dysentery and uterine bleeding, and the seeds are used to improve eyesight.

Shepherds purse and seedsCulinary: The flowers and young leaves have a peppery taste and can be added to salads and stir-fries.  If you have the patience, the seeds can be removed from the pods and used as a mustard replacement. I cannot vouch for this, I certainly don’t have the patience!

Cultivation: Each plant produces roughly 40 000 seeds in its short lifetime, which means you will always have this herb in your garden – you may as well use it!

Shepherd’s Purse – Capsella bursa-pastoris


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