Shepherd’s Purse Monograph
This plant, Shepherd’s Purse, is growing everywhere right now. Have you seen it in your yard? It is a medicinal herb found all over the United States and worldwide. It has been used for thousands of years and historically documented as being a useful medicinal herb. It is not a weed, and is best harvested and used fresh. Please, check out the resources I used for this article.
Common Names: Cocowort, shepherd’s heart, pick pocket, toywort, pickpurse, St. James weed, St. James Wort, St. Anthony’s fire, pepper grass, shepherd’s sprout, mother’s heart, case wort, permacety (Kloss, 1939)
Fresh plant: Shepherd’s Purse can be used sparingly in a salad by chopping the whole herb or striping the leaves off and sprinkling them on top. It can also add it to soups and stews or as a flavor to rice or potatoes. All the aerial parts can be used.
Vitamins and Minerals: It is in the Brassicaceae family, the same as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts etc.
Vitamins: A, B, C, E, K.
Minerals: iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, tin, zinc, sodium, and sulphur. (Tenny, 1983)
Description: It can be recognized by its tiny heart shaped leaves that look like they whorl around the stem, opposite of each other. Its base leaves grow in a rosette and are dandelion-like. Being friends with dandelions, they are often found growing together. Grouse, larks, and goldfinches like to eat shepherd’s purse seeds. People can also eat this herb in salads and the seeds can be gathered and ground into meals. (Angier, 1974) When you chew a green shepherd’s purse it has a nice peppery taste.
Warning to pregnant women, it is a uterine stimulant and abortifacient and is NOT recommended to eat during pregnancy. (Capsella bursa-pastoris, 2013)
“Shepherd’s Purse plants are common weeds of fields and recently disturbed areas. They can grow stalks up to two feet tall with the heart-shaped seed pods being ~1/2 inch apart and a cluster of small, white flowers at the very tip.” (Vorderbruggen, 2023)
“Most excellent in cases of hemorrhage after childbirth, and all other internal hemorrhages. Has been successful in such cases when all other remedies have failed. Good for bleeding from the lungs. One of the best remedies to check profuse menstruation. Excellent in fever, kidney complaints, bleeding piles, and hemorrhoids.” (Kloss, 1939)
Helps control heavy menses; can stop a hemorrhage within seconds.
Medicinally: Cuts, Nosebleeds, Rheumatism, and others mentioned.
An infusion or decoction will work with this plant because a small amount is needed for the results.
“Steep a heaping teaspoonful [of chopped herb] to a cup of boiling water for thirty minutes, and drink cold, not more than two cupfuls a day, a large mouthful at a time.” (Kloss, 1939)
One of my clients used this herb when she had a heavy period and it really worked. All she did was pick some fresh Shepherd’s Purse out of her yard and chew up a couple of stems with the leaves.
Shepherd’s Purse has been used for these ailments: Arteriosclerosis, Bleeding, Blood Pressure, Bloody Urine, Bowels, Constipation, Diarrhea, Dropsy, Dysentery, Ear Ailments, Heart, Hemorrhage, Kidney problems, Lumbego, Painful-Menstruation, Uterus, Vagina, and Water retention. (Tenny, 1983)
This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to give medical advice. Research on your own to see if this herb could work for you and your situation.
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3rd Day Herbs, Lisa Scott, 649 FM 3118, Clifton, Texas 76634
Angier, B. (1974). Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella). In B. Angier, Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants (pp. 202-203). Harrisburg: Stackpole Books.
Capsella bursa-pastoris. (2013). In M. M. Zoe Gardner (Ed.), American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook (2nd ed., pp. 162-164). Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.
Kloss, J. (1939). Shepherd’s Purse. In J. Kloss, Back to Eden (p. 184). Twin Lakes: Lotus Press.
Tenny, L. (1983). Shepherd’s Purse. In L. Tenny, Today’s Herbal Health (pp. 118-119). Provo: Woodland Books.
Vorderbruggen, D. M. (2023, 2 14). Shepherd’s Purse. Retrieved from Foraging Texas: https://www.foragingtexas.com/2008/08/sheppards-purse.html
USDA, NRCS. 2023. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 15 February 2023). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.