Shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) is one of the most common wildflowers or weeds on earth. Just don’t try to kill these plants before learning about the health benefits of shepherds purse. You can purchase shepherd’s purse seeds to grow at home.
Use of the health benefits of shepherds purse dates back to the time of the ancient Greeks and the Roman Empire. It was used as a laxative back in those days. In the 17th century, it was discovered that the herb could help stop excessive bleeding. Pilgrims brought this plant to the colonies to use its medicinal qualities. Soldiers during the First World War were given shepherd’s purse tea to help heal wounds and prevent excess bleeding. It is now used to control excessive blood in menstrual cycles, treat wounds and nosebleeds.
How to Use Shepherd’s Purse
Shepherd’s Purse is an edible plant that is often used in Chinese and Korean cooking. Both leaves and roots are used in different recipes such as dumpling, stir fries, rice cakes and salads. This herb can be used to feed animals and for cosmetic purposes. Creams and ointments can be used to treat the skin.
The whole plant is used medicinally, especially the aerial parts. This plant contains sulforaphane and fumaric acid, which have antioxidant effects. Phenols and flavonoids found in shepherd’s purse have anti-inflammatory properties which can help alleviate inflammation, restore hormonal balance and improve blood circulation. As a vasodilator it helps hasten the coagulation and constriction of blood. This herb is considered a diuretic, astringent, emmenagogue and febrifuge. It contains vitamin A, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, C, and K.
There are many supplements in tincture, pill and tea form that use shepherd’s purse alone or in combination with other herbs. Use only the recommended dose found on the supplement packaging since there is no guideline for appropriate dosage. Dried herb should last indefinitely, but it is best to discard if you see mold.
You can make a shepherd’s purse tincture by filling a jar with fresh herbs and covering it with vodka. Keep the jar in a cool and dark place for 30 days. Shake it every few days for the mixture to brew evenly. Filter the plant parts using a coffee filter or cheesecloth. Store the liquid in a blue or brown jar to prevent light degradation. Do not consume more than one teaspoon (5 milliliters) per day. Tincture can be used topically to heal wounds, burns or hemorrhoids.
Make a tea to use the health benefits of shepherds purse. Commercial tea bags are available, as well as bulk herb which can be placed in a tea ball or in a teapot with a strainer. Steep the herb for two to five minutes depending on the desired strength of the tea. One or two cups daily is usually enough. Add honey or lemon to make the tea taste more pleasant.
Lady’s mantle is a similar plant that promotes wound healing and decreases abnormal menstrual bleeding. Yarrow is another plant that has similar effects. Shepherd’s purse is often combined with these two herbs in teas and tinctures.
Health Benefits of Shepherds Purse
Health benefits of shepherds purse are especially beneficial for women.
Health benefits of shepherds purse are used to control postpartum hemorrhage or bleeding after childbirth. A study showed that women who took oxytocin and 10 drops of shepherd’s purse experienced a significantly greater drop in bleeding than those taking only the oxytocin hormone.
Shepherd’s purse contains a protein that is quite similar to oxytocin. This helps constrict smooth muscles which surround and support blood vessels, especially in the uterus. Shepherd’s purse helps tone the uterus. Make a liter of tea by using four teaspoons of the herb and letting it steep for 30 minutes before straining. Drink the tea throughout the day. This should produce immediate results.
This herb can also be used to induce labor. It is not recommended during pregnancy as it may induce uterine contractions, at the same time it can help stop a miscarriage if taken in large doses when first spotting if the baby is not already dead. Consult a herbalist before using health benefits of shepherds purse during pregnancy, labor and delivery.
This herb has been used to treat heavy periods for centuries. Usually it is taken as a tea or decoction made from roots and stems. Just like the postpartum study, another study showed that women using the health benefits of shepherds purse with mefenamic acid experienced less menstrual bleeding than those that only took the anti-inflammatory drug. It is unknown if the herb acted independently or simply enhanced the drug.
Shepherd’s purse is considered the best herb to stop nose bleeds, better than any other treatment. This is good news for those with children. Brew tea and let it steep for 10 minutes. Dip a cotton ball in the tea once it is cooled. Squeeze out excess liquid and insert the ball into the nostril to stop the blood flow.
Health benefits of shepherds purse can be used to stop bleeding in all parts of the body. Those with major wounds should go to the hospital. However, smaller words, scrapes or bites can be treated with this herb that should be a part of your emergency kit. Make a tea and apply it on the wound. It is also possible to make an herbal salve.
Health benefits of shepherds purse include anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists isolated a sugar molecule from this plant, called capselloside, that suppressed inflammation in nerve cells in test tube studies. This is one of the seven compounds that have this effect. Other compounds can inhibit an inflammatory process known as nitric oxide synthesis which could produce conditions such as asthma, arthritis, brain ischemia, seizures, and Parkinson’s disease.
Diuretic herbs, such as shepherd’s purse are stimulants that help the kidneys. Use it to treat bladder infections which can be accompanied by difficult urination (cystitis) or high blood pressure. Health benefits of shepherds purse help when the body is retaining excess water from congestive heart failure or edema. Combine it with couch grass or other stimulating diuretics such as dandelion or ginger.
Side Effects of Shepherd’s Purse
There are not enough human studies to be aware of the side effects of using the health benefits of shepherds purse. However, animals have experienced pupil enlargement, drowsiness and shortness of breath. These reactions happened when animals were given extremely high doses via injection. Which means that it is possible for humans to overdose on this herb. There are no withdrawal symptoms either.
Do not use health benefits of shepherds purse if you are taking some medications. It may increase blood clotting if taken with blood thinners, which could cause serious health risks. Stop its use two weeks before surgery so it does not interfere with natural blood clotting ability. This herb should be used to treat hemorrhage not to prevent them, especially in the postpartum condition.
Shepherd’s purse can suppress thyroid function and interfere with thyroid medications. This herb may have sedative effects, so it is best not to take it with sedatives or sleep medication. Consult your doctor before taking any herbal supplements if taking medication.
Health benefits of shepherds purse are not recommended for pregnant women since it could induce labor. Women who are trying to get pregnant should also avoid the use of this herb. People with kidney stones should avoid this herb since it has oxalates which can bind to calcium and worsen this condition. Do not use it on children or adolescents unless prescribed by a health provider.