Herb Walk: Shepherd’s Purse

  Time for another weed walk! Let’s meet Shepherd’s Purse Capsella bursa-pastoris (a.k.a. Witches’ pouch or Mother heart):

Shepherd’s Purse grows wild all around my house. I bet it grows all around yours too. Sneaking up between sidewalk cracks. In the swampy wet places.

  Some folks eat its peppery seeds in salad, but I regard Shepherd’s Purse as MEDICINE. Please do not take this herb if you are pregnant!!!!! If I want a peppery salad, I prefer Shepherd’s Purse’s brother plant, Poor Man’s Pepper, which usually grows nearby.
  Shepherd’s Purse is used to control bleeding. It is a vasoconstrictor. The fresh tea is used for heavy periods, the tincture for helping post miscarriage and childbirth. The tea can be used as a poultice on a bleeding wound. Soak cotton balls in it and place them in your nostrils for a bloody nose.

SHEPHERD’S PURSE / YARROW TEA for heavy periods
  • 2 parts nettle,
  • 1 part shepherd’s purse leaf/flower,
  • 1/4 yarrow leaf/flower.

Use four to six tablespoons of herbs per quart of water. Place herbs in quart jar and cover with boiling water. Cover tightly and allow to infuse for at least twenty minutes (though the longer the better). Strain.

  • 2 parts shepherd’s purse leaf,
  • 1 part nettle leaf,
  • 1 part yarrow flowers/leaf,
  • 2 parts white oak bark.

Use four to six tablespoons of herb mixture per quart of water. Place herbs in cold water and slowly heat to a simmer. Simmer over low heat for twenty minutes. Strain.


  In my midwifery practice, I use a tincture of Shepherd’s Purse for post partum bleeding after the delivery of the placenta. I had been purchasing the tincture for quite a few years, paying near $12.00 for a 1 ounce bottle. Little did I know, making it is easy and cheap! the herb is free and local, and I get a big bottle of vodka out of the deal!

 To make a tincture, (these instructions will work for ANY herbal tincture, not just Shepherd’s Purse) gather up a lot of fresh Shepherd’s Purse. (Add equal parts yarrow for a menstruation tincture) The entire plant. Cut it up into little pieces:

Then pack it into a glass jar:

Then fill the jar a second time with vodka. Poke out the air with a chopstick and top off:

   The next day you’ll need to top off again with a little more alcohol. Susun Weed says it’s because the herb fairies like to take a nip. Then seal and date your tincture, and leave in a dark place for six weeks. 
When the six weeks are up you can strain your tincture and pour it into tincture bottles.
Do you use Shepherd’s Purse? What’s your recipe?