The Medicinal Benefits of Rosemary and Shepherd’s Purse

Rosemary flowers

An introduction to the medicinal benefits of rosemary and shepherds purse

Rosemary Rosemarinus officinalis has a long history of use in medicine and folklore. The Ancient Greeks and Romans would wear a wreath of Rosemary around their heads to help with memory during exams. Similarly, sprigs of the plant were often woven into the hair of brides and placed with the deceased as a symbol of remembrance and longevity. These days Rosemary has a wonderful affinity for the memory helping improve alertness, recall and concentration. A little of the essential oil on the temples can help prepare for exams.

For those who have lost their ‘joie de vivre’, Rosemary can help rediscover a love for life again. A strong infusion or tea or a few drops of the essential oil rubbed into the scalp is said to stimulate the hair follicles preventing premature balding. Rosemary also has some relaxing and calming actions on the digestive tract and can help to relieve headaches. Note: Do not use Rosemary essential oil internally

Shepherds Purse – This lesser known little weed is actually quite beautiful. Its name comes from the small love heart of shepherds knapsack like seed pods that form on slender stalks. Shepherds Purse or Capsella bursa-pastoris is an edible plant (only eat in small amounts!) from the Brassica family. It has a strong, pungent flavous, similar to eating rocket.
Shepherds Purse has long been used to reduce and stop bleeding. During World War 1 when other medicines were in short supply, Shepherds Purse was used to treat soldiers wounds. In less traumatic times, a cotton wool bud soaked in a strong infusion can be inserted into the nostrils for nose bleeds. Where there is no other significant complications, a tea or tincture of Shepherds Purse can be used in heavy menstrual bleeding to slow the flow. It can also be used on varicose veins and haemorrhoids and has an affinity for the Kidneys in more serious health concerns.

Please as always, before using any of these plants, be sure that they have been identified correctly. If in doubt, don’t! Avoid harvesting herbs from roadsides or areas where sprays or other toxic substances may have been used. If you are experiencing a serious health condition, please visit your health professional.

Article by Damian Harrison, Naturopath from Chamomile Naturopathy , Bellingen.

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