Purslane - cure-all or just a tasty herb?

rusty_blackhaw(6a)August 11, 2012

Although I'd heard about purslane (Portulaca oleracea) being an edible herb, I never got around to trying it until this summer, when I harvested some of it growing between cracks in my garden path and had it in a salad. Very good - crisp, with a pea-like flavor and an undertone of citrus. It's become a frequent but not everyday addition to salads here (while it is high in vegetable omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin C among other things, it also contains a relatively high content of oxalic acid (as spinach does) so eating large amounts daily may not be a sound practice).

Purslane has a reputation of being "good for what ails you" and has been touted for anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activity, as a purgative, emollient or muscle relaxant, an aid to any digestive condition, for urinary complaints, age-related and chronic diseases, "skin rejuvenation", painful menstruation, heart disease and a wide range of skin complaints such as psoriasis, cuts and boils and to prevent cancer (related to omega-3/antioxidant content).

Herbs said to do so many different things generally lack evidence of having much effectiveness for any of them. Still, purslane has been demonstrated (at least in the test tube) to contain anti-inflammatory compounds and has shown positive results in a small trial for treating oral lichen planus (an inflammatory disorder).

Also (hint to eibren) it is traditionally used as an anti-parasite agent in China.

Anyone here making use of purslane medicinally? Are there valuable varieties other than the wild type (for instance, Johnny's Seeds sells one with larger greenish-yellow leaves)?

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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

I do follow Hippocrates' idea of let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food and so I would rather have a tasty meal of healthful foods than "pop a handful of pills." Obviously there are limits to this because it isn't anything that will have quick, dramatic effects. It has a more gentle steering towards health but it is effective in its own way.

Purslane is one of those healthful foods I noticed years ago. We like to nibble it straight from the garden or add it to the salad bowl. My youngest is a great fan of it and is often going through the garden to browse and pick handfuls of purslane to eat.

I like the various "golden" purslane varieties. Grows extremely well in the vegetable garden. It is more upright (less clinging dirt than the prostrate wild variety) and it has larger, more succulent leaves. If you let some flower, it will self-sow or you can easily collect the seeds to sow more. It grows quickly and is tolerant of cool temperatures so it is a good one to try even in Northern zones for fall harvests.

I also tried the "gruner red" variety and found it not as robust as the golden varieties.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 11:25AM
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Wild purslane will help your gums heal in just a few days of eating it raw. I don't know about the domestic kind.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 8:07AM
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chervil2(z5 MA)

I have grown the red purslane Gruner from Johnnys Seeds for many years and find the leaves large, tender, and delicious. Storage time under refrigeration is short. The leaf miners were troublesome and made for sadly disfigured plants. In answer to the question posed by this thread, I would answer that purslane has health benefits as part of an overall wholistic lifestyle.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 9:41AM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

Herbs are highly alkalizing and very medicinal. Herbs are powerful medicine because they are not hybrids. They still have their pure life force, not restricted through breeding,etc. If you were to use herbs as medicinal I would fid wild ones and cultivate that variety to make sure your getting the real thing. Alot of places have herbs that are bred to have more appealing features, at the cost of medicina values.. I personally look at what man used the herb with for thousands of years. I think that's better than trusting some man in a lab coat who only been doing this for a couple decades. The strongest medicine is right under your feet. Pick it fresh,consume it fresh, you will have nothing to worry about. Stay healthy

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 12:37AM
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