HERBS: SHEPHERD'S PURSE
Action: Haemostatic, styptic, vasoconstrictor, uterine tonic,
Systems Affected: Heart, circulation, lungs, stomach, intestines,
kidneys, bladder, uterus. Preparation and Dosage (thrice daily): Fresh
or dried flowering plant, dose 2-5 grams by infusion or decoction.
Shepherd's Purse grows wild in temperate zones throughout the world. It
will flourish and set seed in the poorest soil, though it may only
attain a height of 10 centimeters or so. In rich soil it luxuriates and
grows to 40 or 50 centimeters. Both the botanical and common names
allude to the strange shape of the fruit pod, similar to the purses or
pouches once hung from their belts by shepherds. Its medicinal
properties have long been known and used by different cultures.
The herb acts as a vasoconstrictor and with its haemostatic properties
it is considered by herbalists one of the best herbs for stopping
haemorrhages of all kinds — of the stomach, lungs, kidneys or uterus.
The plant has a definite effect on the uterus and is considered a
specific for excessive menstruation.
To check excessive menstrual discharge and for haemorrhages: 15 to 25
grams of the fresh plant in 500 ml of water; simmer until reduced by a
third and then strain; one cupful every 2 hours (in most cases bleeding
is arrested after the first or second cupful).
To regularize menstruation and reduce menstrual pain (especially at
puberty or menopause): 3 or 4 cupfuls per day of the decoction during
the ten days preceding the expected date of menstruation.
For disturbances of the circulation (varicose veins, haemorrhoids and
hypertension) and inflammation of the mucosae (respiratory, digestive or
urinary): 2 to 3 cupfuls per day of the decoction for three weeks;
repeat if necessary after suspending treatment for two weeks.
Shepherd's Purse is also used to treat chronic diarrhoea and dysentery
and as an external application in rheumatism. A strong decoction of the
fresh or dried plant is used for its styptic and vulnerary action on
external wounds, and the decoction or fresh juice is inserted on cotton
wool to check bleeding from the nose.
Some authorities consider the fresh plant more active than the dried
plant, but it may be used in either form. The leaves of the young plant
are eaten as a vegetable in many countries.