Shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) is not only a medicinal plant, but also one with culinary attributes. Its leaves can be consumed as part of salads or soups, being an excellent protector against stomach pain or diarrhea. Traditionally it is used mainly for its hemostatic properties, but its most amazing property is that of regulating both high and low blood pressure, a property which will save you a great deal of stress, because you won’t have to worry about an eventual excessive dosage. (This does not mean, of course, that you can exceed the usual dose on a daily basis, because shepherd’s purse can cause several side effects that you surely don’t want to experience.)
Composition and properties
Shepherd’s purse leaves contain alkaloids, parasympathomimetic amines (acetylcholine, choline), flavonoids, tannins, organic acids (citric acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, fumaric acid), amino acids (especially arginine, aspartic acid and cysteine), vitamins (especially vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and vitamin K), phytoncides, essential oil and minerals (especially iron, manganese, copper, phosphorus and calcium), which are responsible for its medicinal properties: analgesic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, antibacterial, febrifuge, vasodilator, vasoconstrictor, diuretic, astringent, hemostatic, emmenagogue, uterotonic.
Preparation and administration
Add 1 teaspoon of finely cut dried herb in 200 ml of hot boiled water and let steep for 10-15 minutes. Drink 2 cups a day.
- Blurred vision
- Oxidative stress (A study published in Ceská a Sloveská Farmacie in 2013 showed that the methanolic and aqueous extracts of shepherd’s purse have “an antioxidant activity against DPPH radicals, peroxyl radicals, hydroxyl radicals, and hydrogen peroxide”, due to the presence of glycosides such as quercetin, chrysoeriol, kaempferol, and isorhamnetin.)
- Cancer (A study published in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine in 2013 concluded that a methanol extract of shepherd’s purse is a “useful bioactive material and attractive drug candidate for oral cancer.” And a study published in Cancer Research in 1976 had previously shown that the fumaric acid contained in shepherd’s purse “was effective in inhibiting the growth of Ehrlich solid tumor.”)
- Bacterial infections (A study published in The Korean Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology in 2014 concluded that “a sulforaphane-containing solution isolated from shepherd’s purse has potential anti-inflammatory and anti-superbacterial properties, and thus it can be used as a functional food or pharmaceutical.”)
- Hemorrhagias, dismenorrhea: Add 3 teaspoons of finely cut dried herb in 200 ml of hot boiled water and let steep for 10-15 minutes. Take 6-8 teaspoons a day, for 6 days during the week before the menstruation. Alternatively, you can make a medicinal wine from 180 g of dried herb and 1 l of red dry wine, letting the mixture macerate for 10 days. Take 1 teaspoon every hour.
- Atherosclerosis: Add 2-3 teaspoons of finely cut dried herb in 200 ml of hot boiled water and let steep for 10-15 minutes. Take 4-5 teaspoons a day.
- Poor peripheral blood circulation
- Varicose veins, hemorrhoids
- Water retention
- Gastritis, colitis, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation
- Rashes, eczema
- Wounds, cuts
Shepherd’s purse is contraindicated during pregnancy (because it stimulates uterine contractions and can cause a miscarriage) and two weeks before surgery (because it can exacerbate the effects of anesthesia on the central nervous system).
Shepherd’s purse is to be used with precaution by those with a history of kidney stones (because it contains oxalates, substances that can form kidney stones) or undergoing a treatment for thyroid conditions (because it can interfere with certain medications).