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Capsella bursa-pastoris
Action: Haemostatic, styptic, vasoconstrictor, uterine tonic, astringent, diuretic.
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.


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