Shepherd’s purse for Herbal Naturopathy: properties, benefits, uses, side effects

The shepherd’s bag (Capsella bursa-pastoris) is a plant of the Brassicaceae familyIn addition to having a hemostatic action, its astringent properties are also useful for circulation and diarrhea. Let’s find out more.

Properties of the shepherd’s bag

The aerial parts of the shepherd bag contain flavonoids (rutin, luteolin-7rutinoside), essential oilalkaloids (burserine), glucosides (bursinic acid) and tannins, which give the plant antihemorrhagichemostatic and astringent properties.

The active ingredients, in particular bursic acid, present in the phytocomplex all have the property of stopping internal bleeding, in hemoptysis (emission of blood from the respiratory tract, usually with a cough), in case of hematuria (presence of blood in the urine) and metrorrhagia (loss of blood from the uterus, independent of menstrual flow). The hemostatic properties of the plant are also used in nasal hemorrhages (nosebleeds), or in those due to hemorrhoids and in the treatment of gingivitis with bleeding.

In addition, the plant is able to contract the muscles of the uterus, regularizing the blood flow during menstruation, when it manifests itself excessively abundant (menorrhagia or hypermenorrhea).

The astringent action of the shepherd’s bursa is not only useful to the circulatory system, in the treatment of varicose veins and other venous insufficiency disorders, but is indicated to the enteric system, even in case of diarrhea.

How to use

USE: 1 tablespoon of shepherd’s bag top, 1 cup of water
Pour the plant into boiling water and turn off the heat. Cover and leave to infuse for 10 min. Strain the infusion and drink 2 cups a day between meals, to take advantage of the astringent action.

Mother tincture of Shepherd Bag: 30 drops three times a day about ten days before the menstrual cycle. In other cases variable doses 30-50 drops 2-3 times a day between meals.


Due to its properties the shepherd bag is contraindicated during pregnancy and lactation, and in case of low blood pressure. The use is not recommended for subjects who manifest hypersensitivity to the component.

Description of the plant

Herbaceous, annual, sometimes biennial plant; it has erect stems, up to 80 cm tall, often branched, especially in plants grown in nutrient-rich environments. If it is crumpled it has a sulfur smell conferred by the essential oil. The basal leaves are gathered in rosette, their petiole is short and have a variable shape; the leaves of the stem are sessile, have a sagittate shape and are amplexicauli. The flowers, in large numbers, are inserted on racemes without leaves; the individual flowers are very small, have 4 green sepals and 4 white petals. The fruits are triangular in shape with the wedge-shaped base and the hollow apex reminiscent of shepherds’ bags.

The habitat of the shepherd’s bag

Widespread almost all over the world, it is often considered a pest. It adapts to any type of climate and terrain; it grows in vegetable gardens, on uncultivated but also cultivated meadows, on the edge of roads, on walls, in clearings and woods.


The name of the genus capsella and the specific one bursa-pastoris derives from the shape of the fruits of the plant, similar to shepherds’ saddlebags and was attributed in 1792 by the German botanist Friedrich Kasimir Medikus (1736-1808).

During the First World War it joined as a hemostatic to two other medicinal herbs already in use for this purpose: ergot and hydraste (Hydrastis canadensis)

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