Shepherd's Purse / Capsella Bursa-Pastoris / is an annual or biennial plant with single stems up to 23.5″ (60 cm) high. At the base, the shepherd's purse leaves are oblong, backwardly lanceolate. The stem leaves are consistent, pointed, sessile, whole or segmented.
At their base, they are arrowhead-shaped, very often amplexicaul. The flowers of the shepherd's purse are white, gathered in racemose inflorescences, which are greatly extended in the fruits. The calyx and corolla are four-leafed. The fruits are pod-like, with many seeds. It blooms in April-August. Shepherd's purse is found throughout meadows, roads, and fields all over.
History of shepherd's purse
The herb owes its name to one of the most useful items to any shepherd - the woolen bag, swept over the shoulder, in which they carried their food and stored herbs during the grazing of sheep. Legend tells of a shepherd that was with his flock, while playing a kaval.
A sick, wealthy man, who could not walk, once crossed his path. He began listening to the wonderful tune and without realizing it, took a few steps. As a reward, he filled the boy’s bag with gold coins. Later that evening, robbers attacked the shepherd boy, ripped the bag, took the coins and killed him.
On that very spot where his blood soaked the ground, sprang a plant that people called shepherd's purse. In addition to being able to stop bleeding, it has a lot of other useful properties, which we make use of to this day.
Composition of shepherd's purse
The stems of shepherd's purse contain proline, choline, acetylcholine, histamine and tyramine. The composition of the plant also includes vitamin C, diosmin, tanning agents, essential oils, inositol, resins, sugars, citric acid, malic acid and tartaric acid, alkaloids, saponins, flavonoids, vitamin K, and others.
Collection and storage of shepherd's purse
The above-ground part of the plant is collected in the flowering period. It is dried in the shade. The dried stalks are essentially pale green stems with small white flowers and unripe fruits. Drugs from shepherd's purse should not contain any roots. It has a characteristic odor and slightly bitter taste. Store in a shady, cool and dry place.
Benefits of shepherd's purse
Shepherd's purse and supplements containing it have a very good astringent effect on uterine bleeding and hematuria (the presence of blood in urine). Shepherd's purse is used for bleeding hemorrhoids, bleeding after injury, nosebleeds, bleeding in the stomach and intestines and others.
The good astringent action of shepherd's purse is mainly due to it containing diosmin. Shepherd's purse has a particularly good effect on tubercular haemoptysis. Water extracts of the herb enhance contractions of the cervical muscles, constrict blood vessels and have a slight hypotensive effect.
Shepherd's purse is a valuable medicinal herb which is an important facilitator for all external muscle diseases. Like mistletoe, shepherd's purse is a circulation-regulating plant and recommended both for high and low blood pressure.
Traditional medicine with shepherd's purse
Folk medicine strongly recommends the use of shepherd's purse during haemoptysis, atherosclerosis, difficulty urinating, diseases of the liver, spleen and kidneys, as well as taking it as a laxative.
Shepherd's purse is administered in various ways. It can be taken internally as a decoction, made from 2 tablespoons of diced stems of the herb and 1 2/3 cups (400 ml) of boiling water. Boil 1 minute and allow to soak for 8 hours. After straining, the decoction is taken three times a day, 1/2 cup (120 ml) before eating.
Infusions are prepared using the same ratio, but without boiling, simply soaking for 2 hours. The herb is applied externally as a compress and is rubbed on injuries and contusions.
Dangers of shepherd's purse
Since it enhances contractions of the cervical musculature, this herb is absolutely contraindicated in pregnancy!