Health benefits of purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.)
Purslane with flower
Common noun: Purslane, Green purslane, Common purslane, Garden purslane, Little hogweed, Akulikuli-kula, Duckweed, Pursley, Wild portulaca.
Scientific noun: Portulaca oleracea L.
Family: Purslane family – Portulacaceae
Habitat: In cultivated, very rich fertilized soils and waste lands.
Characteristics of Purslane
Annual plant of the Purslane family – Portulacaceae- till 30 cm. long. Prostrate, succulent stems, bright dark green. Opposite leaves, till 3 cm. Upper ones verticilate. Flowers till 1,3 cm in diameter, with petals falling very soon, yellow. The fruit is a pixidium. In cultivated, very rich fertilized soils and waste lands.
A detail of the plant
Picking-up and storing Purslane
Except the seeds that should be dried once they are gathered, leaves must be eaten fresh. It can be found mainly in summer, but samples can be found from spring to summer.
Composition: Active components of Purslane
The main active components we can find are the following:
– Amino acids: Alanine (it increases the defenses of the immunitary system ); arginine (Very necessary for the muscular growth and the tissues repairing) histidine (vasodilatador and stimulative of the gastric juice. It combats the anemia, the arthritis and it is very useful for the ulcers) Isoleucine (Necessary for the appropriate growth) Valine (infantile growth), glutamic acid (antiulcerous, tonic, increases the mental capacity, aspartic acid (Very interesting in the expulsion of the ammonia)
– Oxalic acid (Very toxic)
Medicinal properties of purslane
– Purifying: It purifies the blood and combats the inflammations that affect to the urinary tract. In this sense their emollient power is due to the great quantity of mucilages that the plant possesses (Smash the tender leaves to extract the juice. Take about 3 spoonfuls a day) This very preparation is used to help to dissolve the kidney stones.
– Diuretic: It favours the elimination of corporal liquids, by stimulating the kidney, being very appropriate in cases of obesity, diabetes, rheumatic and heart illnesses, associated with the accumulation of water in the body. (Infusion of about 15 gr. of fresh leaves for a glass of water during breakfast)
– Cataracts: It is an edible wild plant not much used in spite of its great detoxifying properties (eat the plant in salads)
– Eyewash: It mitigates the irritations of the tired eyes (Squeeze the tender plant and apply a plaster with polenta on the eyes)
– Calmative: It alleviates the stomach ache (Apply a cataplasm of boiled leaves on the stomach)
– Anticancerigenous: The possible virtues of the juice of this plant like inhibitor of the tumoral growth are being studied.
Other uses of Purslane
– Edible plant: It is a plant that should always be used fresh. In fact it is more known as food than as a medicinal plant. The tender leaves can be eaten in salads, mixed with other plants as the cress, the dandelion or the chicory, contributing with all its vitaminical and diuretic properties, although its flavor is a little strong.
With the seeds, once they have been dried up, flour can be made and used for pastries and the stems can be pickled in vinegar. The leaves can be cooked as a vegetable or can be fried, alone or in omelette.
Toxicity of Purslane
Purslane is a plant quite toxic for the animals. The toxicity is due to its high content in oxalates although it has not been proved that it is equally toxic for the humans when used in little doses in phytotherapy.
More information about natural medicine.