Botanical: Capsella bursa-pastoris
Family: Brassicaceae (cabbages) - formerly Cruciferae (mustards)
Other common names: Shepherd's Purse, Mother's Heart, Case Weed, Pick Pocket, Shovelweed, Sanguinary, Lady's Purse, Shepherd's Heart, Cocowort, Witches' Pouches, St. James Weed, Toywort
Capsella is used chiefly to control bleeding - both internally and externally. But it is also thought to relieve urinary tract infection, excessive menstrual flow, diarrhea, hemorrhoids and varicose veins ... and, it is edible and nutritious.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Capsella is a hardy, self-pollinating annual, native to the Old World, and now grows profusely (sometimes regarded as a weed) in the fields, waste places and along roadsides of temperate areas throughout the world. The plant produces a stem that rises from a basal rosette of lobed leaves, with smaller, alternately-growing leaves farther up the stem and terminating in small white flowers that bloom throughout the year. Capsella tolerates poor growing conditions in both sandy and loamy, well-drained soil in sun or partial shade and reaches a height of eighteen inches. The heart-shaped seedpods apparently resemble the leather pouches once carried by shepherds, hence, the plant's common names, Mother's Heart and Shepherd's Purse. Capsella has a long history. It was known to be a food as early as 595 B.C., as evidenced by excavations from Catal Huyuk, a large, Neolithic, urban cultural site in Turkey, and seeds were found in the stomach of the preserved "Tollund Man" (c. 500 B.C. - A.D. 400), who was discovered in a Danish bog. Early use of Capsella in herbal medicine was confirmed by the first-century Roman scholar and naturalist, Pliny (A.D. 223-279), who praised the seeds as an effective laxative. In the 1500s, the Italian physician, Pietro Mattioli, cited the herb to help stop excessive bleeding, a use that has remained to this day, and it is interesting to note that modern research has confirmed the plant's hemostatic properties. The seventeenth-century herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper, recommended the herb's medicinal qualities, saying, "few plants possess greater virtues than this [Capsella]" and went on to prescribe it for bleeding from internal or external wounds; and during World War I, when there was a shortage of certain German drugs to control bleeding, British doctors used Capsella extracts as a substitute. Capsella occupies a place in both Eastern and Western herbal medicines. In Chinese medicine, it is used as an astringent and also to stop bleeding, especially postpartum bleeding, as well as a treatment for hypertension and improving eyesight. The leaves are vitamin-packed and are used in soups or cooked as a spinach-like vegetable or added to salads. Capsella is a sweet, dry, cooling herb, and the whole plant is used in herbal medicine. Some of the constituents in Capsella include tannin, saponins, mannitol, mustard oil, flavonoids (including quercetin), resin, monoamines, arginine, fiber, choline, potassium, phosphorus, iron, acetylcholine, sitosterol, bursinic acid and vitamins A, B, C and K.
Capsella has been employed for centuries in both Eastern and Western herbal medicine as an effective hemostat or blood coagulant (both internally and externally) that has been used to reduce or stop hemorrhage and bleeding from internal organs, particularly controlling profuse menstruation, postpartum and uterine bleeding, and blood in the urine. Capsella is thought to be a very useful herb for gynecological conditions.
Used externally, Capsella's styptic and coagulant properties have been used to reduce bleeding in wounds and to stop nosebleed. Used topically, it is also thought to be a vaso-constrictor that is useful in alleviating varicose veins.
Capsella is considered a diuretic with antiseptic properties that promotes the flow of urine, and as such, it helps to rid toxins from the body through the increased urine. The herb has been used to treat urinary tract infections, such as cystitis, abscess of the bladder, white mucous matter in the urine, and it also helps to flush uric acid and other matter (stones and gravel) from the kidneys.
As an herbal astringent, Capsella is believed to be very helpful in treating diarrhea, hemorrhoids and dysentery.
Capsella Herbal Supplement should not be used during pregnancy, as it is a uterine stimulant. Those who take prescription kidney medications should not use this herb.