The heart shaped fruits of this plant resemble the purses that people
like Shepherds used to hang from their belts in the Middle Ages. During the First World War, when the standard haemostatic herbs Hydrastis and Claviceps were unobtainable in Britain,
Shepherd's Purse was used as an alternative. It has also been used as a quinine substitute in the treatment of malaria. In Chinese medicine it is used to treat dysentery and eye problems.
Shepherd's Purse haemostatic action is due to the presence of tyramine and other amines, and the
acetylcholine, choline and tyramine have been shown to produce a transient decrease in blood pressure and haemostatic activity in vivo. It can be used to treat urinary infections with
haematuria, and menorrhagia. The polypeptides have a contractile action on the uterus. It is also of benefit in the treatment of haemorrhoids and varicose veins. The flavonoids have an anti-inflammatory action and the tannins are astringent.
This herb is also used as an effective treatment for diarrhea.
"By the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth fruit according to his months, because their waters issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine." Ezekiel 47:12
Shepard's Purse is also known as:
- Shepherd's Purse, Capsella bursa
pastoris, shepherd’s sprout, shepherd’s heart,
- Lady’s purse,