Combined with hawthorn and lime blossom

• high blood pressure

Perhaps the most important cruciferous plant with medicinal use, it has been known as a haemostatic for centuries and evidence of its use has been found at Neolithic sites, probably as condiment and vegetable as much as medication.

her doctor examined her again and said the nurse must have made a mistake because the patient didn't have a prolapse at all.

Shepherd's purse also works for bladder prolapse. A woman had been diagnosed with this condition, which was causing her pain and discomfort. She didn't want surgery, so came to see Julie.

The patient took shepherd's purse and drank a bladder tea of uva ursi, couch grass, cornsilk, buchu, and horsetail. To support this, she began Pilates and did Kegel, i.e., pelvic floor, exercises. After a month she was greatly improved, and her doctor was amazed. Her urine had cleared. Two months later there were no signs of any problem and she felt fantastic.

Illustration of shepherd's purse from Theatrum Botanicum by John Parkinson, published in 1640

Shepherd's purse has small white flowers, which are quickly followed by the plant's signature heart-shaped pods.

Shepherd's purse has been used during childbirth to stimulate uterine contractions and reduce postpartum bleeding.

For high blood pressure, shepherd's purse combines well with hawthorn and lime blossom. Mix the tinctures together, using 5 parts hawthorn, 3 parts lime blossom and 2 parts shepherd's purse. Take 20 drops in a little water or juice twice a day.

During the First World War in Germany shepherd's purse was used as a less toxic substitute for ergot to stop bleeding. A case history to show its effectiveness for bleeding involves a man with blood in his urine. He went to his doctor for diagnosis, and found the blood was coming from weak blood vessels in his prostate. Shepherd's purse soon stopped the bleeding, and he then took bilberry to strengthen the blood vessels. He occasionally needed to take shepherd's purse over the next year, but had no later bleeding problem.

Shepherd's purse puts out flowers and seeds virtually all year round. It is best picked in the summer for making a tincture, but can be used fresh at any time. The leaves are tastiest before the flowers appear and can be eaten in salads; they are rich in vitamins A, B, and C. The seedpods can be used chopped up in soups and stews for their peppery taste. In Japan, shepherd's purse is grown as a vegetable and to flavor rice.

Because the flowering plant has a rather unpleasant taste, we prefer the tincture form (where a small dose is sufficient) rather than as an infusion or decoction, although these will work perfectly well too.

When all thoughts Are exhausted I slip into the woods And gather

A pile of shepherd's purse.

Like the little stream

Making its way

Through the mossy crevices

I, too, quietly Turn clear and transparent.

Zen Master Ryokan (1758-1831)

Shepherd's purse tincture

Pick shepherd's purse while it is flowering, preferably in the summer. Fill a jar with the herb, then pour on vodka until it is covered. Put the jar away in a cool dark cupboard for a month, shaking the jar daily or as frequently as you can remember to do it. Strain off the liquid, pour it into a bottle and label.

Dose: For bleeding, take half a teaspoonful three times a day until the bleeding stops and then discontinue. For prolapse, 5 drops three times a day in a little water is usually sufficient. Continue taking it for a few days after everything has moved back into place.

Formula for high blood pressure

Combine tinctures: 2 parts shepherd's purse, 3 parts lime blossom and 5 parts hawthorn berry.

Dose: 20 drops twice daily in water.

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