Portulaca oleracea

Purslane is an herbaceous plant, glabrous and succulent. It has a cylindrical stem, small leaves, and yellow flowers that grow out from the base of the leaves.

The plant is historically used as food. It can be eaten fresh in salad or cooked like spinach. Ethnobotanical studies have reported its use in numerous eastern European countries and throughout China.

Purslane can be commonly seen growing from pavement cracks, street gutters, along roads and in gardens across the city. The Roman writer Pliny reports that in ancient times it was recommended as an amulet against evil.

Traditional uses
  • To treat fevers1
  • To treat skin disease and wounds2, 3
  • To treat digestive complaints4
  • In Arabian countries is used as anti-scorbutic, diuretic, and antispasmodic 3
  • In vitro studies have demonstrated its potential effect at reducing inflammation and it also has anti-oxidant effect3,5,6  (in vitro)
  • Purslane has potential liver-protecting agents7 (in vitro)
  • A study showed that purslane seeds can be used as adjuvant therapy (treatment given in addition to main treatment) for people with diabetes8 (clinical trial)
  • The plant is rich in vitamins A, B, C and E and carotenoid
  • Fresh parts of the plant have a high concentration of numerous minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, folate, lithium, and melatonin9,10   
  • A study suggests that purslane may accelerate the wound-healing process11 (in vivo)
How it can be used
  • Currently the plant is mostly used as a medicinal food for its high content of Alpha-linoleic acid10, an omega-3 oil, whose presence in the diet has been related to a lower risk of cardio-vascular disease12
  • Do not use while pregnant or breastfeeding
The information provided here is only intended to augment people awareness and knowledge of the properties and uses of some plants. This information is not intended to substitute advice from a physician and is not a substitute for professional medical care. Although references are provided and information has been compiled with care, errors may be present. The remedies listed here should not be used without prior consultation with a qualified healthcare professional.

The authors do not recommend collecting and using wild plants from an urban environment as these can be contaminated by several types of pollutants that are harmful to human health. The authors are not responsible for any adverse effect or consequences resulting from the use of the information published in this website.
  • In vitro evidence: evidence from studies using isolated components of living organisms such as cells or purified molecules
  • In vivo evidence: evidence from studies with whole living organisms
  • Clinical trial evidence: evidence from clinical trials conducted with humans
  1.  Fuchs, L. New Kreuterbuch (Basel 1543). Neuausg Leipz. KF Köhler (1938).
  2.  Lardos, A. The botanical materia medica of the Iatrosophikon—A collection of prescriptions from a monastery in Cyprus. J. Ethnopharmacol. 104, 387–406 (2006).
  3.  Chan, K. et al. The analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of Portulaca oleracea L. subsp. sativa (Haw.) Celak. J. Ethnopharmacol. 73, 445–451 (2000).
  4. Guarrera, P. M. & Savo, V. Perceived health properties of wild and cultivated food plants in local and popular traditions of Italy: A review. J. Ethnopharmacol. 146, 659–680 (2013).
  5.  Boga, M., Hacibekiroglu, I. & Kolak, U. Antioxidant and anticholinesterase activities of eleven edible plants. Pharm. Biol. 49, 290–295 (2011).
  6.  Arruda, S. F., Siqueira, E. M. & Souza, E. M. Malanga (Xanthosoma sagittifolium) and purslane (Portulaca oleracea) leaves reduce oxidative stress in vitamin A-deficient rats. Ann. Nutr. Metab. 48, 288–295 (2004).
  7.  Sudhakar, D., Krishna Kishore, R. & Parthasarathy, P. R. Portulaca oleracea L. extract ameliorates the cisplatin-induced toxicity in chick embryonic liver. Indian J. Biochem. Biophys. 47, 185–189 (2010).
  8. El-Sayed, M.-I. K. Effects of Portulaca oleracea L. seeds in treatment of type-2 diabetes mellitus patients as adjunctive and alternative therapy. J. Ethnopharmacol. 137, 643–651 (2011).
  9.  Guil-Guerrero, J. L. & Rodríguez-García, I. Lipids classes, fatty acids and carotenes of the leaves of six edible wild plants. Eur. Food Res. Technol. 209, 313–316 (1999).
  10. Simopoulos, A. P., Tan, D.-X., Manchester, L. C. & Reiter, R. J. Purslane: a plant source of omega-3 fatty acids and melatonin. J. Pineal Res. 39, 331–332 (2005).
  11. Rashed, A. N., Afifi, F. U. & Disi, A. M. Simple evaluation of the wound healing activity of a crude extract of Portulaca oleracea L. (growing in Jordan) in Mus musculus JVI-1. J. Ethnopharmacol. 88, 131–136 (2003).
  12. Mozaffarian, D. Does alpha-linolenic acid intake reduce the risk of coronary heart disease? A review of the evidence. Altern. Ther. Health Med. 11, 24–30; quiz 31, 79 (2005).
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