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Shepherd's Purse

Shepherd's Purse

Botanical Description & Habitat

No information available.

Historical Properties & Uses

Basic research indicates the principles of shepherd's purse coagulate blood; the herb is often used to treat menorrhagia characterized by lengthy and frequent, almost colorless flow. Shepherd's purse is also used to reduce urinary tract irritation and atony. Studies show it stimulates uterine contraction, enhances uterine tonus, and lowers blood pressure. The herb is mildly astringent; its action is said to mimic ergot, but at much lower levels of activity.

Shepherd's purse contains saponins, choline, acetylcholine, flavonoids, glycosides, and tyramine. Choline and ACh stimulate the cholinergic elements of the autonomic nervous system, which are particularly important for proper neuro-muscular function.

This herb has approval status by the German Commission E for internal and external use.

It is used internally for mild menorrhagia (see under menstruation), as a topical application for nosebleeds and externally for superficial bleeding injuries.

References:

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Method of Action

Shepherd's Purse Affects Uterine Activity
Shepherd's purse contains several biologically active substances. Cholicine and acetylcholine operate in much the same way to stimulate the cholinergic elements of the autonomic nervous system.

The tyramine probably has little effect when taken orally. The flavonoids and glycosides may be important principles, since flavone is effective, taken orally, on uterine activity. Shepherd's purse has been found to enhance uterine contractions, and to enhance blood coagulation. It appears to possess a peripheral mechanism of action.

The main application of shepherd's purse is for treatment of menorrhagia. It has been found to have hypotensive and uterus-contracting effects. An alcoholic extract given i.v. to dogs, cats, rabbits and rats caused a transient decrease in blood pressure which was not antagonized by atropine. It induced contraction of the small intestine in guinea pigs, and had not effect on the circulation of the frog hind limb, or on the rate of coagulation of rabbit blood. Extracts exhibited contractile activity on isolated rat uterus similar to oxytoxin.

Drug Interactions & Precautions

Possible Interactions
Whatever oxytocic action shepherd's purse has may interact with vasoconstrictors such ephedrine, methoxamine, phenylephrine or sympathomimetics to cause severe hypertension.

Citrates in conjunction with shepherd's purse may produce erratic and unpredictable results (because of oxytocic action).

Shepherd's purse and sparteine may have synergistic ocytocic action.

Comments
The oxytocic-like action of this herb may produce neonatal jaundice which could interfere with serum bilirubin test results.

To the extent that shepherd's purse's action depends on the presence of cholingergic substances, extent its action will be affected by decrease in cholinergic-receptor stimulation produced by anticholinergics.

Safety Factors & Toxicity

The toxicity level of shepherd's purse has not been determined at this time.

This herb has approval status by the German Commission E.

References:

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.


Preparation & Administration

This herb has approval status by the German Commission E.

Recommended daily dosages in Germany are as follows:

10 - 15 g of the herb.

Topical use: 3 - 5 g of the herb per 6 oz of water.

5 - 8 g fluid extract.

References:

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Note: This Herbal Preparation information is a summary of data from books and articles by various authors. It is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals.



References

Am Hospital Formulary Service. Am Soc of Hosp Pharm. Wash, D.C.

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Bressler, R., M.D. Bogdonoff & G.J. Subak-Sharpe. 1981. The Physicians Drug Manual. Doubleday & Co, Inc. Garden City, NY. 1213 pp.

Casaday, G.N., et.al. 1960. Postpartum hypertension after the use of vasoconstrictors and oxytocic drugs. Etiology, incidence, complications and treatment. JAMA, 172 (Mar 5).

Costello, C.H. & C.L. Butler. 1950. The estrogenic and uterine-stimulating activity of asclepias tuberosa. A preliminary investigation. J of the Am Pharm Assoc, 39. pp. 233-237.

De Martinis, M., et.al. Milk thistle (silybum marianum) derivatives in the therapy of chronic hepatopathies. Clin. Ter. 94(3). pp.283-315. 1980.

Goodman, L.S. & A. Gilman. 1975. Pharm Basis of Thera. MacMillan, NY. Hansten, P.D. 1979. Drug Interactions, 4th ed. Lea & Febiger, Phila.

Kastrup, E.K., ed. 1981. Drug Facts and Comparisons, 1982 edition. Facts and Comparisions Division, J.P. Lippincott Co, Phila(St. Louis).

Kuroda, K. & K. Takagi. Physologically active substance in capsella bursa-pastoris. Nature. 220(5168), 707-708. 1968.

Kuroda, K. & T. Kaku. Pharmacological and chemical studies on the alcohol extract of capsella bursa-pastoris. Life Sciences, 8(3), 151-155, 1969.

List, P. & L. Hoerhammer. 1969-1976. Hagers Hanbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, vols. 2-5. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Martin, E.W. 1978. Drug Interactions Index, 1978/79. J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.

Mowrey, Daniel B., Ph.D. Exper. Psych. Brigham Young University. Director of Nebo Institute of Herbal Sciences. Director of Behavior Change Agent Training Institute. Director of Research, Nova Corp.

Sara, C. 1965. Drugs that complicate the course of anaesthesia. Medical Journal of Australia, 52. pp. 139-142.

Stuart, D.M. 1968. Drug metabolism Part 1. Basic fundamentals. PharmIndex, 10(9).

Stuart, D.M. 1968. Drug metabolism Part 2. Drug interactions. PharmIndex, 10(10). pp. 4-16.

 


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