Capsella bursa-pastoris

Also called: Shepherd’s Bag. Shepherd’s Scrip. Shepherd’s Sprout. Lady’s Purse. Witches’ Pouches. Rattle Pouches. Case-weed. Pick-Pocket. Pick-Purse. Blindweed. Pepper-and-Salt. Poor Man’s Parmacettie. Sanguinary. Mother’s Heart. Clappedepouch (Irish).

Shepherd’s Purse can be found over the world, outside the tropics. It is probably of European or West Asiatic origin. The odor of the plant is odd and rather unpleasant, though more cress-like than pungent. The taste is aromatic and biting. During the summer, the plant has a sharp, acrid taste.

The Irish name of ‘Clappedepouch’ was given in allusion to the begging of lepers, who stood at cross-roads with a bell or clapper, receiving their alms in a cup at the end of a long pole.

Shepherd’s Purse as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

shepherds purseThe medicinal part is the aerial portion of the plant.

Shepherd’s Purse is one of the most important drugplants of the family Cruciferae. A homoeopathic tincture is prepared from the fresh plant.

Shepherd’s Purse is used to treat diarrhea, and to treat and prevent duodenal ulcers. Stops internal and external bleeding, treats urinary problems, and is used as a wound remedy. It should be avoided during pregnancy, although it is often used during the last stages of labor to prevent bleeding problems.

When dried and infused, shepherd’s purse yields a tea which is still considered by herbalists one of the best specifics for stopping hemorrhages of all kinds – stomach, lungs, or uterus, and more especially bleeding from the kidneys.

It has been used in English domestic practice from early times as an astringent in diarrhea.

It is a remedy of importance in in ulcerated conditions and abscess of the bladder. It increases the flow of urine. Its use is specially indicated when there is white mucous matter voided with the urine; relief in these cases follows at once.

Shepherd’s Purse is approved by Commission E for:

  • Nosebleeds
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Wounds and burns

Folklore medicine: Internally, the plant is used for mild menstrual irregularities such as menorrhagia and metrorrhagia. Externally, it is used for nosebleeds and superficially bleeding skin injuries. Shepherd’s Purse is seldom used in folk medicine today. In America it is used for headaches. In Spain a decoction of the fresh plant is used for bladder inflammation.

Homeopathic Uses: Capsella bursa-pastoris is used for uterine and mucous membrane bleeding as well as for calculosis.


The medicinal infusion should be made with an ounce of the plant to 12 ounces of water, reduced by boiling to 1/2 pint, strained and taken cold. In the United States, the fluid extract is given for dropsy in doses of 1/2 to 1 teaspoonful in water. The infusion may be drunk throughout the day.

Culinary Uses of Shepherd’s Purse

Unknown; not recommended.


No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages.

Not to be used during pregnancy.

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