Shepherd’s Purse

Capsella bursa-pastoris

Originally from East Asia, Shepherd’s Purse is now widespread and can be found growing across the globe. It is an annual, belonging to the Mustard family (Brassicaceae).

The flowers are particularly small, with four white petals, clustered at the terminal part of the stem. The leaves and stem grow out from the base of the plant, reaching up to 50 cm in height. Shepherd’s Purse is characterised by the presence of a heart-shaped pods that grow around the length of a protruding stem.

Shepherd’s Purse is a common plant that is often seen growing along footpaths, within urban lawns and disturbed soil and waste-ground throughout the city. It grows particularly fast and produces a very high number of seeds.

This plant has been used since historical times for its therapeutic effects mostly in the application of wound-healing.

Traditional uses
  • Shepherd’s Purse is traditionally to treat nosebleed1 and other types of bleeding2
  • Experimental studies from extracts of Shepherd's Purse may have anti-microbial activity3 (in vitro)
  • A chemical compound extracted from Shepherd's Purse may have inhibitory effects on the growth of tumour cells 4 (In vitro)
How it can be used
  • External use on superficial injuries of the skin5 and for nosebleeds5
  • Internal use for the symptomatic treatment of prolonged menstrual periods or for uterine bleeding between menstrual periods (metrorrhagia)5
  • The use of Shepherd’s Purse should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Not to be used by individuals with high blood pressure, thyroid disorders or heart disease6
The information provided here is only intended to augment people awareness and knowledge of the properties and uses of some plants. This information is not intended to substitute advice from a physician and is not a substitute for professional medical care. Although references are provided and information has been compiled with care, errors may be present. The remedies listed here should not be used without prior consultation with a qualified healthcare professional.

The authors do not recommend collecting and using wild plants from an urban environment as these can be contaminated by several types of pollutants that are harmful to human health. The authors are not responsible for any adverse effect or consequences resulting from the use of the information published in this website.

The authors are not responsible for any adverse effect or consequences resulting from the use of the information published in this website.
  1. Fuchs, L. New Kreuterbuch (Basel 1543). Neuausg Leipz. KF Köhler (1938).
  2. Chevallier, A. Encyclopedia of herbal medicine. (Dorling Kindersley Publishing, Incorporated, 2000).
  3. El-Abyad, M. S., Morsi, N. M., Zaki, D. A. & Shaaban, M. T. Preliminary screening of some Egyptian weeds for antimicrobial activity. Microbios 62, 47–57 (1990).
  4. Kuroda, K. & Akao, M. Antitumor and anti-intoxication activities of fumaric acid in cultured cells. Gann Gan 72, 777–782 (1981).
  5. Blumenthal, M., Ph.D, W. R. B. & Goldberg, A. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. (Elsevier Health Sciences, 1999).
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