Capsella bursa-pastoris


capsella bursa-pastoris
Taken from wikipedia

Family: Brasicaeae
Latin name: Capsella bursa-pastoris (syn: thlaspi bursa-pastoris)
English name: Sheperd’s purse
Chinese name: ji cai 荠菜
Ayurveda name:
Unani name:
Greek name: Αγριοκάρδαμο
Japanese name:
Korean name:

Parts used: Aerial parts.

In almost every European language the name of the plant is associated with the shape of the fruit of the plant.

It is either gathered from the wild or cultivated.


Originally native to Eastern Europe and Asia Minor, it has been naturalized in the UK and other colder climates. In the UK it blossoms all year around.

In Greenland it can be found in places where it was first introduced by Norse settlers 1000 years ago.

In Africa it does grow but only in higher altitudes.


A notable feature of C. bursa-pastoris is that it contains acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter, responsible for the parasympathetic neurotransmission in our organism. This is probably the substance that provides the herb with its diuretic properties by interacting with the muscarinic receptors.

Bursic acid is another phytochemical of the plant, which is responsible for stopping bleeding.

Cardioactive steroids are presumably present only in the seeds.



Temperature: Cool
Taste: Sweet
Meridians affected:

TCM Formulas in which it is included:


The plant’s usage in western herbal medicine is based on it’s astringency. It is documented in the UK  as a remedy for  for excessive menstrual bleeding [3] Based on this traditional use even today there are commercially available food supplements.

In Limerick (Ireland) it has been used for the treatment of kidney problems. [3]

Dosage: to make a decoction 20-30gr of dried herb in 600-900ml water used for internal bleeding, for the tincture 150-200gr dry herb in 300ml alcohol 70% taken at a dose of 120-150 drops a day.

Other Cultures:


It has been shown that a mixture of  extracts of C. bursa-pastoris and Glychyrrhiza glabra is effective against oral micro-organisms  so it can potentially be used for oral hygiene. [2]

Other Uses:


The seeds are often used in bird seed mixes. [6]

Pest management:


It is consumed as food in several countries of the Mediterranean like Spain, Morocco, Turkey and Bosnia Herzegovina.[3] It is also used in the traditional Korean dish namul.

It contains a high amount of calcium but low amounts of oxalic acid making it a relatively good source for this element. [3]

Seeds and young shoots are eaten raw. Tender Rosettes of young leaves are collected in spring and eaten raw. [3]

Safety Toxicity:

Although as stated earlier it has a low oxalic acid/calcium ratio (<1) it still contains oxalic acid so its consumption is not advised  for people with kidney stones or even endometriosis. [5]


  2. Soleimanpour, S., Sedighinia, F. S., Safipour Afshar, A., Zarif, R., Asili, J., & Ghazvini, K. (2013). Synergistic Antibacterial Activity of Capsella bursa-pastoris and Glycyrrhiza glabra Against Oral Pathogens. Jundishapur Journal of Microbiology, 6(8). doi:10.5812/jjm.7262
  3. Sánchez, and Javier Tardío. Mediterranean wild edible plants : ethnobotany and food composition tables. New York: Springer, 2016. Print.
  4. Allen, David E., and Gabrielle Hatfield. Medicinal plants in folk tradition : an ethnobotany of Britain & Ireland. Portland OR: Timber Press, 2004. Print.
  5. Duke, James A. Handbook of medicinal herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2002. Print.
  6. Nyerges, Christopher. Guide to wild foods and useful plants. Chicago, Ill: Chicago Review Press, 1999. Print.

Post Author: costas358

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