Health Guide

Shepherd's purse

What is it?

Shepherd's purse is an herbal medicine used to treat skin wounds and to reduce swelling and stop bleeding. It may also be used to stop vomiting, nosebleeds, diarrhea, and heavy menstrual (monthly period) bleeding.

Other names for Shepherd's purse include: Capsella Bursa Pastoris, Thlaspi Bursa Pastoris, Shovelweed, Mother's Heart, Witches' Pouches, Pick Pocket, Caseweed, Hesperitin, and Capsella.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have kidney stones or kidney disease
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease


Talk with your caregiver about how much Shepherd's Purse you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Shepherd's Purse. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.


  • Before taking Shepherd's Purse, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • If you have kidney stones or kidney disease, you should not take Shepherd's Purse (1)
  • Talk to your health care giver before using Shepherd's Purse if you have blood pressure, thyroid gland, or heart problems or are taking medicine that makes you sleepy (2,4)

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Changes in your heart rate or heartbeat (10)
  • Extreme tiredness, goiter swelling (neck) or pain, problem moving arms and legs, or skin blisters (5,6)
  • Redness and swelling if Shepherd's Purse has been put on your skin (2,6)
  • Upset stomach if you have taken Shepherd's Purse by mouth (2,6)


1. Anon: British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. British Herbal Medicine Association, Keighley, UK; 1983.

2. Newall CA, Anderson LA & Phillipson JD: Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-care Professionals. Pharmaceutical Press, London, UK; 1996.

3. Farnsworth NR: Potential value of plants as sources of new antifertility agents 1. J Pharm Sci 1975; 64:535-598.

4. Bremness L: Herbs. The Visual Guide to more Than 700 Herb Species from Around the World. Eyewitness Handbooks, DK Publishing, New York, NY; 1993.

5. Leung AY: Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Biologicals, 11th edition. Merck, Rahway, NJ; 1989.

6. Jurisson S: Determination of active substances of Capsella bursae pastoris. Gyogyszereszet 1966; 10:465-467.

7. Moore M: Herbal Materia Medica. Southwest School of Botanical Medicine, Bisbee, AZ; 1995:8.

8. Blumenthal M: Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Integrative Medicine Communications, Newton, MA; 2000.

9. Brinker F: Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. Eclectic Medical Publications, Sandy, OR; 1998.

10. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R et al: American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL; 1997.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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