Purslane herb Health benefit (Portulaca oleracea)
July 1 2017 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Purslane is an herb that many people consider to be a weed. It is one of my favorite herbs, I find the taste delicious. I eat it as is or add it to salads.

Biomed Res Int. 2015. Portulaca olerace: a review of phytochemistry and pharmacological effects. Portulaca oleracea, belonging to the Portulacaceae family, is commonly known as purslane in English and Ma-Chi-Xian in Chinese. It is a warm-climate, herbaceous succulent annual plant with a cosmopolitan distribution. It is eaten extensively as a potherb and added in soups and salads around the Mediterranean and tropical Asian countries and has been used as a folk medicine in many countries. Diverse compounds have been isolated from Portulaca oleracea, such as flavonoids, alkaloids, polysaccharides, fatty acids, terpenoids, sterols, proteins vitamins and minerals. Portulaca oleracea possesses a wide spectrum of pharmacological properties such as neuroprotective, antimicrobial, antidiabetic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiulcerogenic, and anticancer activities. However, few molecular mechanisms of action are known.

Antioxidant protective benefit
Protective effect of Portulaca oleracea extracts on hypoxic nerve tissue and its mechanism.
Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2007. Department of Naval Medicine, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China
The aim of this study was to investigate whether purslane extracts have hypoxic neuroprotective effects. After being orally administrated with the purslane extracts for seven days, adult male BALB/c mice were adapted to a normobaric low oxygen environment (10% oxygen and 90% nitrogen) for different time and then were sacrificed. The results showed that the purslane extracts enhanced the EPO mRNA and protein expression in the mouse cortices. Compared to the control group, the mouse in the group treated with purslane extracts by 1 g/d had significantly higher activities of phosphofructokinase, lactate dehydroenase and higher levels of ATP in the cortices, especially under the hypoxic environment for 24 hours. Histological analysis indicated that the extracts lessened the inflammation damage of the mouse brain. We thus demonstrated that the purslane extracts had protective effects on hypoxic nerve tissue.

Brain protective effect of purslane extract
Neuroprotective effects of purslane herb aquenous extracts against d-galactose induced neurotoxicity.
Chem Biol Interact. 2007. Center of Experimental Medicine, Wuhan First Hospital, Wuhan City, PR China.
In order to evaluate mechanisms of natural plant purslane herb aquenous extracts for neuroprotective, we assessed neuroprotective effects of purslane extract on SD mice injected daily with d-gal (50mg/(kgday)) by behavioral tests. Purslane extract fed mice showed higher activity upon induction by new environmental stimuli, lower anxiety and higher novelty-seeking behavior in the open field tasks, and significantly improved learning and memory ability in step-through compared with d-gal-treated mice. Purslane extract significantly increased superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity and decreased the malondialdehyde (MDA) level. Meanwhile, purslane extract also could up-regulate telomere lengths and telomerase activity in PHAS-fed groups.

Carbohydr Polym. 2013. Antitumor activity of Portulaca oleracea polysaccharides against cervical carcinoma in vitro and in vivo.

Purslane composition
Purslane has a high concentration of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. Purslane increases the activity of the antioxidants SOD and CAT, hence decreasing the damage of oxidation products to the body. Puslane has good amounts of vitamin E.
   The total fatty acid content of purslane ranges from 1.5 to 2.5 mg/g of fresh mass in leaves, 0.6 to 0.9 mg/g in stems and 80 to 170 mg/g in seeds. Alpha-Linolenic acid accounts for around 60% and 40% of the total fatty acid content in leaves and seeds, respectively. Longer-chain omega-3 fatty acids are not detected. The beta-carotene content ranges from 22 to 30 mg/g fresh mass in leaves.
   Purslane has several alkaloids (oleraceins A, B, C, D and E). It also has several flavonoids (kaempferol, apigenin, myricetin, quercetin and luteolin).

Chemical composition of purslane (Portulaca oleracea).
Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 1994. Mohamed AI, Hussein AS. Virginia State University, Agricultural Research Station, Petersburg.
Purslane was analyzed for total solids, total protein, ash, soluble carbohydrate, and fructose / fructane in whole plants, leaves, stems, and roots. Significant increases were observed in total solids and protein during plant maturation. Leaves had the highest amount of protein in the third growth stage (44 g/100 g dry matter). Roots showed a decline in protein level as the plant aged. Total phosphorus content in leaves was significantly higher than phosphorus found in stems and roots. Iron (Fe) content varied significantly among growth stages, and roots and leaves had the highest Fe content. Significant accumulation of manganese was found in different growth stages. Leaves and roots had significantly higher manganese content than stems.

Common purslane: a source of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
J Am Coll Nutrition. 1992. Simopoulos AP, Norman HA, Gillaspy JE, Duke JA. Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health, Washington, DC.
omega-3 fatty acids, alpha-tocopherol, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene and glutathione determined in leaves of purslane (Portulaca oleracea), grown in both a controlled growth chamber and in the wild, were compared in composition to spinach. Leaves from both samples of purslane contained higher amounts of alpha-linolenic acid (18:3w3) than did leaves of spinach. Chamber-grown purslane contained the highest amount of 18:3w3. Samples from the two kinds of purslane contained higher leaves of alpha-tocopherol, ascorbic acid and glutathione than did spinach. Chamber-grown purslane was richer in all three and the amount of alpha-tocopherol was seven times higher than that found in spinach, whereas spinach was slightly higher in beta-carotene. One hundred grams of fresh purslane leaves (one serving) contain about 300-400 mg of 18:3w3; 12.2 mg of alpha-tocopherol; 26.6 mg of ascorbic acid; 1.9 mg of beta-carotene; and 14.8 mg of glutathione.

Purslane for ulcer
Evaluation of the gastric antiulcerogenic effects of Portulaca oleracea L. extracts in mice.
Phytother Res. 2004. Department of Pharmacodynamy and Toxicology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Mashad University of Medical Sciences, Mashad, Iran.
Purslane aqueous and ethanolic extracts showed a dose-dependent reduction in severity of ulcers. The highest dose of extracts exerted similar activity to sucralfate.

Purslane and asthma
Bronchodilatory effect of Portulaca oleracea in airways of asthmatic patients.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2004. Department of Medicine, Ghaem Medical Centre, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.
Apparently purslane has been mentioned in ancient Iranian medical books as a treatment for respiratory conditions. The relaxant effect of this plant have also been observed on smooth muscle tissue. In the present study, the bronchodilatory effect of the boiled extract of purslane in the airway of asthmatic patients was examined. The relaxant effect of the orally administered 0.25 ml/kg of 5% boiled extract in comparison with 3 mg/kg oral theophylline and 200 microg inhaled salbutamol was studied by measuring forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), peak expiratory flow (PEF), maximal mid-expiratory flow (MEF(25-75)), and specific airway conductance (sGaw). Results showed that the boiled extract of purslane caused significant increases in all measured pulmonary function tests. There was no significant difference between the maximum increase in measured PFTs due to the boiled extract and theophylline. However, maximum increase in PEF and MEF(25-75) due to the boiled extract were significantly lower than those of salbutamol. The results of the present study showed that purslane has a relatively potent but transient bronchodilatory effect on asthmatic airways.

Topical Purslane for wound healing
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. 2003. Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan.
Fresh homogenized crude aerial parts of purslane were applied topically on the excision wound surface as single and two doses in different amounts. Wound contraction and tensile strength measurements were used to evaluate the effect of purslane on wound healing. Purslane accelerated the wound healing process by decreasing the surface area of the wound and increasing the tensile strength.