Capsella bursa-pastoris / Herderstasje

Een onooglijker plantje dan het Herderstasje kunnen we ons nauwelijks voorstellen. Een schraal vuilgroen onkruid met aangevreten blad en minimale vuilwitte bloemetjes, groeiend langs slordige wegranden en akkers. Veel werk maakt het niet van zijn uiterlijk, alles lijkt op overleven afgestemd en daar is het dan ook een meester in.

Het groeit, bloeit en vermeerdert zich snel en doet dat ook het hele jaar door. Altijd vind je wel hartvormige zaadjes aan de plant, met wat fantasie het enige aantrekkelijke aan deze Capsella. Daar komt dan ook zowel zijn Latijnse als zijn Nederlanse naam vandaan. Deze zaadjes zouden op een beursje of tasje van een herder lijken. Dus bursa pastoris, een pastorale beurs, ook de Engelse benaming is Shephard’s purse.

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European tradition

Steinmetz (1954) mentions that an infusion of Capsella is cooling, diuretic and astringent and therefore beneficial in all kinds of blood and bladder problems (diarrhoea with sharp and bloody stools, piles, profuse menses, dropsy, diseases of bladder, spitting of blood). Extractum Capsellae Bursae pastoris liquidum is used as a substitute for ergot of rye to arrest bleeding from lungs, stomach, uterus and kidneys. Steinmetz addresses the considerable haemostatic action to the fungi Cystopus Candidus and Peronospora Grisea, which would grow on the plant and produce the odour of trimethylamine.

Also Wichtl (1994) mentions the former common use of Capsella as a substitute for ergot in uterine haemorrhaging, and its continuous use in folk medicine to treat dysmenorrhoea.

Van Hellemont states that both ergot and Capsella are useful in meno- and metrorrhagia, but ergot would perform a stronger haemostyptic activity (van Hellemont, 1988).

According to Wichtl (1994), Capsella is still occasionally used in traditional medicine as a styptic remedy (its former common use as a substitute for ergot in uterine haemorrhaging is obsolete). It is used in European traditional medicine for preventing or arresting haemorrhage, more specifically to

treat dysmenorrhoea.

Asian tradition

In Tibetan medicine, Capsella is used to stop vomiting, to treat kidneys, lungs and nerve disorders and fluid retention of the body (Wichtl, 1994). Capsella is used in Indian medicine in menorrhagia and haemorrhages from renal and genito-urinary tract, in diarrhoea and dysentery and as a diuretic

(Khare, 2007).

In China, a decoction of the whole plant is used in hypertension and as haemostatic agent for treatment of chyluria (fat globules in the urine) and hematuria (Herbalgram, 2008).

Bursae pastoris herba / Shepherd's Purse / Herderstasjeskruid

Shepherd's purse is a small annual or biennial herb native to Europe (Karnick, 1994), found growing as a weed in farmland, fallow land, and along roadsides worldwide (Wichtl, 1996). It is also cultivated in India (Karnick, 1994) and other temperate and warm regions around the world (Bown, 1995). The material of commerce is collected mainly from wild plants in southeastern Europe (BHP, 1996), particularly from Bulgaria, Hungary, former Yugoslavia, and the former U.S.S.R. (Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).

The use of shepherd's purse as a food dates back at least eight thousand years. Archaeobotanical remains containing shepherd's purse seeds were recovered during excavation of the Catal Huyuk site in Turkey (ca. 5950 B.C.E.). Seeds were also recovered from the stomach of the Tollund man (ca. 500 B.C.E.–400 C.E.) (Bown, 1995). Its common name is derived from the purse shape of the plant's seed pods. Traditionally, shepherd's purse has been used as an antihemorrhagic agent and to treat diarrhea and acute cystitis (Newall et al., 1996). Nineteenth century American Eclectic physicians used shepherd's purse to treat hematuria (blood in the urine) and menorrhagia and as an external treatment for bruises, strains, and arthritis (Ellingwood, 1983). The plant was used during World War I to stop hemorrhaging when other medicines were not available. Through the end of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, traditional herbalists used shepherd's purse for inflammation of the genitourinary tract, for cystitis accompanied by white discharge (Grieve, 1979), to stop hemorrhage following childbirth, and internal bleeding in the lungs and colon (Hutchens, 1991).

Clinical studies that correlate with pharmacological studies to humans have not been conducted. Use during heavy menstrual bleeding, however, seems justified through empirical evidence. Efforts to determine a bioactive hemostatic principle in shepherd's purse point to an unspecified peptide (Schulz et al., 1998). Most recently, shepherd's purse has been investigated for its possible use as a biomonitor of heavy metals contamination in the environment. The authors of this study reported that it may become a particularly useful plant for monitoring short-term changes in pollution levels in urban areas (Aksoy et al., 1999).

In Germany, shepherd's purse is approved in the Commission E monographs (BAnz, 1998) and the tea form is official in the Standard License monographs (Braun et al., 1997) for treatment of menorrhagia, metrorrhagia, and nosebleeds. In extract form, it is found in a few anti-dysmenorrhea drugs (Wichtl and Bisset, 1994). An ethanolic infusion of the dried aerial parts is also official in the German Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia (GHP, 1993). Its modern uses in Indian Ayurvedic medicine (Karnick, 1994) and in traditional Chinese medicine (Huang, 1999) are closely comparable to its approved uses in Germany. In China, a decoction of the dried whole plant is used as an antihypertensive drug and also as a hemostatic agent for treatment of chyluria (fat globules in the urine) and hematuria (Huang, 1999).

Pharmacopeial grade shepherd's purse consists of the dried, aerial parts of Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medikus, harvested near the end of the flowering period when the seed pods are present. Botanical identification must be confirmed by thin-layer chromatography (TLC), macroscopic and microscopic examinations, and organoleptic evaluations. It must contain not less than 12% water-soluble extractive (BHP, 1996). The German Standard License requires that it consist of the quickly dried aerial parts, collected from dry locations during high summer, containing not less than 18% water-soluble extractive. Botanical identification must be confirmed by TLC, macroscopic and microscopic examinations, and organoleptic evaluations (Braun et al., 1997).


    • Aksoy, A., W.H. Hale, J.M. Dixon. 1999. Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medic. as a biomonitor of heavy metals. Sci Total Environ 226(2–3):177–186.

    • Kuroda, K. and K. Takagi. 1969. Studies on Capsella bursa pastoris. I. General pharmacology of ethanol extract of the herb. Arch Int Pharmacodyn Ther 178(2):382–391.

    • Kuroda, K. and K. Takagi. 1968. Physiologically active substance in Capsella bursa-pastoris. Nature 220(168):707–708.

    • Miyazawa, M., A. Uetake, H. Kameoka. 1979. [The constituents of the essential oils from Capsella bursa-pastoris Medik] [In Japanese]. Yakugaku Zasshi 99(10):1041–1043.

    • Park, R.J. 1967. The occurrence of mustard oil glucosides in Lepidium hyssopifolium, L. bonariense, and Capsella bursa-pastoris. Aust J Chem 20:2799–2801.

J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Oct;23(10):794-799. doi: 10.1089/acm.2017.0095. Epub 2017 Jun 7.

Effect of Hydroalcoholic Extract of Capsella bursa pastoris on Early Postpartum Hemorrhage: A Clinical Trial Study.

Ghalandari S1, Kariman N1, Sheikhan Z1, Mojab F2, Mirzaei M3, Shahrahmani H1.


Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is one of three main causes of maternal mortality and a life-threatening condition throughout the world. PPH can have irreversible complications for the mother even if it does not lead to death. This study was conducted to determine the effect of hydroalcoholic extract of Capsella bursa pastoris on early PPH.


The present study was a single-blinded, randomized, clinical trial.


The study was conducted in Afzalipour Hospital of Kerman in 2015.


The subjects included 100 women who had given vaginal birth and met the study inclusion criteria.


The participants were selected and randomly assigned into an intervention group (n = 50) and a placebo group (n = 50). Immediately after placental expulsion, the intervention group was given 10 sublingual drops of the hydroalcoholic extract of Capsella bursa pastoris plus an infusion of 20 U of oxytocin in 1 L of Ringer's solution, and the control group was given 10 sublingual drops of the placebo plus an infusion of 20 U of oxytocin in 1 L of Ringer's solution.


The amount of bleeding was assessed in both groups. Hemoglobin and hematocrit levels were measured in all the participants 6 h after childbirth. The statistical analysis of the data was performed in SPSS-17 using the following tests: independent t, paired t, repeated measures ANOVA, Friedman's, Wilcoxon, Mann-Whitney, Fisher's exact, and chi square. P-value <0.05 was considered statistically significant.


There were no significant differences between groups in baseline characteristics (p > 0.05). After the intervention, there was significant decrease in the amount of postpartum bleeding in both groups. However, the mean decrease in the amount of bleeding was significantly more in the Capsella bursa pastoris group (p < 0.001).


Compared with the mere administration of oxytocin, sublingual Capsella bursa drops appear to be effective in reducing PPH in this study. Further research regarding the efficacy and safety of various doses of Capsella bursa pastoris is required.