Purslane

Scientific Name(s): Portulaca oleracea L. Family: Portulacaceae (Purslane)

Common Name(s): Purslane , garden (common) purslane , pigweed , ma chi xian (Chinese), munyeroo , portulaca , pusley , pussly

Uses

Purslane has been used as a vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids and is high in vitamins and minerals. It possesses marked antioxidant activity. Roles in abnormal uterine bleeding, asthma, type 2 diabetes, and oral lichen planus are suggested; however, clinical studies are limited and diverse in nature.

Dosing

Limited clinical studies are available to provide dosage guidelines; however, powdered seeds have been taken at 5 to 30 g daily in divided doses, as well as both ethanol and aqueous purslane extracts. One hundred grams of fresh purslane leaves yields approximately 300 to 400 mg of alpha linolenic acid.

Contraindications

Contraindications have not been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Limited clinical studies have not reported clinically important adverse effects. Effects on uterine contractions are contradictory.

Toxicology

Studies are lacking.

Botany

The purslane family includes several fleshy plants. P. oleracea is an herbaceous, succulent annual growing 10 to 30 cm tall and preferring sandy soil and warmer conditions. It is sometimes considered a weed because of its invasive growth patterns. It has reddish-brown stems, alternate wedge-shaped leaves, clusters of yellow flowers containing 4 to 6 petals that bloom in summer, and numerous black, shiny, and rough seeds. The botanical name is derived from the Latin potare , meaning to “carry,” and lac or “milk,” referring to the milky sap of the plant. Synonyms are Portulaca neglecta Mack. & Bush and Portulaca retusa Engelm. This plant (also known as little hogweed) should not be confused with giant hogweed ( Heracleum mantegazzianum ). 1 , 2 , 3

History

In ancient times, purslane was used to protect against evil spirits. Purslane's medicinal use dates back at least 2,000 years, but it was used as food well before this period. Traditional medicinal uses for purslane are broad. Ancient Romans used purslane to treat dysentery, intestinal worms, headache, and stomachache. The Chinese, French, Italians, and English also used purslane as a food source. 2 , 4

Chemistry

Purslane is considered a rich vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, including tocopherol, ascorbic acid, beta carotene, and glutathione. 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 The alpha-linolenic acid content varies with cultivar, geography, and environmental factors, with leaves having a greater percentage than seeds and stems. 8 , 10 The plant's bright yellow flowers are of interest in the food industry because of the nitrogen-containing betalain pigments. 11 , 12

Purslane also contains carbohydrates, lipids, glycosides, alkaloids (including oleraceins), sterols, coumarins, triterpenes, and flavonoids. 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 Phenolic constituents of the plant include scopoletin, bergapten, isopimpinellin, lonchocarpic acid, robustin, genistein, and others. 17 Amino acids in the leaves of the Portulaca species include phenylalanine, alanine, tyrosine, and aspartate. 18 Plant acids include citric, malic, ascorbic, succinic, fumaric, and acetic acids. 19 The volatile oil of P. oleracea has also been studied and contains mainly linalool and 3,7,11,15-tetramethyl-2-hexadecen-1-ol. 20

Purslane is a rich source of vitamins A, B, C, and E and is high in carotenoid content, including beta-carotene. Calcium, magnesium, potassium, folate, lithium, and melatonin are also present. 2 , 6 , 7 , 9

Uses and Pharmacology

CNS effects

Effects of both ethanol and aqueous extracts of purslane are attributed in part to observed antioxidant activity. Both histological and biochemical studies have shown free-radical scavenging activity, as well as reduced lipid peroxidation, lactate dehydrogenase, and consequent reduced oxidative stress. 13 , 21 , 22 , 23 Reduced inflammation consequent to hypoxic injury has been demonstrated with administration of purslane extracts. 24 Other proposed mechanisms include increased glycolysis and adenosine triphosphate levels and promotion of endogenous erythropoietin. 25 , 26 Experimental studies report levels of noradrenaline and dopamine in the leaves, stems, and seeds of less than 1%, but no anticholinesterase activity for either ethanol or water extracts. 22 , 27

Animal data

Limited experiments conducted in mice have demonstrated neuroprotective effects against induced hypoxic injury by ethanol extracts and betacyanins. Cognition improved and anxiety was reduced in behavioral tests, and histology and biochemical measurements showed neuroprotective properties. 24 , 25 , 28 , 29

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of purslane for neuroprotective effects or other CNS conditions.

Other animal or laboratory experiments

In vitro studies demonstrated hepatoprotective effects against cisplatin-induced injury, 30 activity against human hepatoma and cervical cancer cell lines, 15 and increased proliferation of thymocytes and splenic lymphocytes. 21 Purslane has been reported to possess antifungal, vermicidal, and antiviral effects. 16 , 17 , 31 Experiments in mice showed increased wound-healing rates with topical applications of crude fresh plant extracts 3 and reduced severity of induced-gastric ulcers with ethanol and aqueous leaf extracts. 32 Studies in chickens fed purslane have shown improved feed efficiency with reduced body weight and increased egg production. There was no change in the cholesterol content of the eggs, but there was an increase in omega-3 fatty acid content. 33 Circulating levels of melatonin have been increased in chickens and rats fed purslane. 9

Other clinical studies
Abnormal uterine bleeding

A small clinical study (N = 10) evaluated the efficacy of purslane seeds and found reductions in duration and volume of uterine bleeding. 34

Asthma

A small clinical trial (N = 13) evaluated the bronchodilatory effect of oral purslane extract compared with that of oral theophylline and inhaled salbutamol. Purslane extract showed improvements in pulmonary function tests similar to those of theophylline. 35

Diabetes

A small clinical trial (N = 30) evaluated the effect of purslane seeds in type 2 diabetes. At 8 weeks, improvements in serum insulin and triglycerides were noted, as well as improvements in liver function tests. 36

Oral lichen planus

Oral purslane performed better than placebo in treating oral lichen planus when administered daily at 235 mg of purslane extract. 37

Dosage

Dosing

100 g of fresh purslane leaves yields approximately 300 to 400 mg of alpha linolenic acid. 9

Limited clinical studies are available to provide dosage guidelines; however, the following dosages have been used: one clinical study used 0.25 mL/kg body weight of a 5% aqueous extract for bronchodilatory effect 35 ; in type 2 diabetes, 5 g of powdered seeds were taken twice daily over 8 weeks 36 ; a daily dose of 235 mg ethanol extract of purslane was used to treat oral lichen planus 37 ; in abnormal uterine bleeding, powdered seeds were taken at a dose of 5 g every 4 hours for 3 days. 34

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Effects on uterine contractions are contradictory and poorly evaluated; judicious use is warranted. 34 , 36

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Clinical studies are limited; however, no clinically important adverse events have been reported in these trials. 34 , 35 , 36 , 37 Older references suggest increases in kidney filtration rates and increased urine production, but these have not been further evaluated. 36

Toxicology

Studies are lacking; however, a toxicology study of Portulaca grandiflora Hook, a related species, found no evidence of toxicity on histology, hematology, or biochemistry. 38

Bibliography

1. Portulaca L. USDA, NRCS. 2007. The PLANTS database ( http://plants.usda.gov , 13 December 2011). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401–4901 USA.
2. Chevallier A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants . New York, NY: DK Publishing; 1996:253.
3. Rashed AN, Afifi FU, Disi AM. 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;88(2-3):131-136.
4. D'Amelio, F. Botanicals: A Phytocosmetic Desk Reference . Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1999:245-246.
5. Ezekwe MO, Omara-Alwala TR, Membrahtu T. Nutritive characterization of purslane accessions as influenced by planting date. Plant Foods Hum Nutr . 1999;54(3):183-191.
6. Guil-Guerrero J, Rodríguez-Garcia I. Lipids classes, fatty acids, and carotenes of the leaves of six edible wild plants. Z Lebensm Unters Forsch A . 1999;209(5):313-316.
7. Liu L, Howe P, Zhou YF, Xu ZQ, Hocart C, Zhan R. Fatty acids and beta-carotene in Australian purslane ( Portulaca oleracea ) varieties. J Chromatogr A . 2000;893(1):207-213.
8. Teixeira MC, Carvalho IS, Brodelius M. Omega-3 fatty acid desaturase genes isolated from purslane ( Portulaca oleracea L.): expression in different tissues and response to cold and wound stress. J Agric Food Chem . 2010;58(3):1870-1877.
9. Simopoulos AP, Tan DX, Manchester LC, Reiter RJ. Purslane: a plant source of omega-3 fatty acids and melatonin. J Pineal Res . 2005;39(3):331-332.
10. Palaniswamy U, et al. Omega-3 fatty acid concentration in Portulaca oleracea is altered by nitrogen source in hydroponic solution. J Am Soc Hortic Sci . 2000;125:190-194.
11. Gandía-Herrero F, Jiménez-Atiénzar M, Cabanes J, Escribano J, García-Carmona F. Fluorescence detection of tyrosinase activity on dopamine-betaxanthin purified from Portulaca oleracea (common purslane) flowers. J Agric Food Chem . 2009;57(6):2523-2528.
12. Wang CQ, Yang GQ. Betacyanins from Portulaca oleracea L. ameliorate cognition deficits and attenuate oxidative damage induced by D-galactose in the brains of senescent mice. Phytomedicine . 2010;17(7):527-532.
13. Yang Z, Liu C, Xiang L, Zheng Y. Phenolic alkaloids as a new class of antioxidants in Portulaca oleracea . Phytother Res . 2009;23(7):1032-1035.
14. Xiang L, Xing D, Wang W, Wang R, Ding Y, Du L. Alkaloids from Portulaca oleracea L. Phytochemistry . 2005;66(21):2595-2601.
15. Chen T, Wang J, Li Y, Shen J, Zhao T, Zhang H. Sulfated modification and cytotoxicity of Portulaca oleracea L. polysaccharides. Glycoconj J . 2010;27(6):635-642.
16. Dong CX, Hayashi K, Lee JB, Hayashi T. Characterization of structures and antiviral effects of polysaccharides from Portulaca oleracea L. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) . 2010;58(4):507-510.
17. Awad N. Lipid content and antimicrobial activity of phenolic constituents of cultivated Portulaca oleracea L. Bull Fac Pharm . 1994;32:137-142.
18. Mirajkar P, et al. Studies on leaf protein of Portulaca species and other leafy vegetables. Curr Trends Life Sci . 1984;11(Prog. Leaf Protein res.):95-98.
19. Gao Z, et al. Determination of low molecular carboxylic acids in Portulaca oleracea L. by ion exclusion chromatography. Sepu . 1996;14:50-52.
20. Liu P, et al. GC-MS analysis of volatile oil of Portulaca oleracea . L. Ziran Kexueban 1994;14:72-74.
21. YouGuo C, ZongJi S, XiaoPing C. Evaluation of free radicals scavenging and immunity-modulatory activities of Purslane polysaccharides. Int J Biol Macromol . 2009;45(5):448-452.
22. Boğa M, Hacíbekiroğlu I, Kolak U. Antioxidant and anticholinesterase activities of eleven edible plants. Pharm Biol . 2011;49(3):290-295.
23. Arruda SF, Siqueira EM, Souza EM. Malanga ( Xanthosoma sagittifolium ) and purslane ( Portulaca oleracea ) leaves reduce oxidative stress in vitamin A-deficient rats. Ann Nutr Metab . 2004;48(4):288-295.
24. Wang W, Gu L, Dong L, Wang X, Ling C, Li M. Protective effect of Portulaca oleracea extracts on hypoxic nerve tissue and its mechanism. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr . 2007;16(suppl 1):227-233.
25. Wanyin W, Liwei D, Lin J, Hailiang X, Changquan L, Min L. Ethanol extract of Portulaca oleracea L. protects against hypoxia-induced neuro damage through modulating endogenous erythropoietin expression. J Nutr Biochem . 2011 May 2. [Epub ahead of print].
26. Chen CJ, Wang WY, Wang XL, et al. Anti-hypoxic activity of the ethanol extract from Portulaca oleracea in mice. J Ethnopharmacol . 2009;124(2):246-250.
27. Chen J, Shi YP, Liu JY. Determination of noradrenaline and dopamine in Chinese herbal extracts from Portulaca oleracea L. by high-performance liquid chromatography. J Chromatogr A . 2003;1003(1-2):127-132.
28. Wang CQ, Yang GQ. Betacyanins from Portulaca oleracea L. ameliorate cognition deficits and attenuate oxidative damage induced by D-galactose in the brains of senescent mice. Phytomedicine . 2010;17(7):527-532.
29. Hongxing Z, Nancai Y, Guofu H, et al. Neuroprotective effects of purslane herb aquenous extracts against D-galactose induced neurotoxicity. Chem Biol Interact . 2007;170(3):145-152.
30. Sudhakar D, Krishna Kishore R, Parthasarathy PR. Portulaca oleracea L. extract ameliorates the cisplatin-induced toxicity in chick embryonic liver. Indian J Biochem Biophys . 2010;47(3):185-189.
31. Oh K, Chang IM, Hwang KJ, Mar W. Detection of antifungal activity in Portulaca oleracea by a single-cell bioassay system. Phytother Res . 2000;14(5):329-332.
32. Karimi G, Hosseinzadeh H, Ettehad N. Evaluation of the gastric antiulcerogenic effects of Portulaca oleracea L. extracts in mice. Phytother Res . 2004;18(6):484-487.
33. Aydin R, Dogan I. Fatty acid profile and cholesterol content of egg yolk from chickens fed diets supplemented with purslane ( Portulaca oleracea L.). J Sci Food Agric . 2010;90(10):1759-1763.
34. Shobeiri SF, Sharei S, Heidari A, Kianbakht S. Portulaca oleracea L. in the treatment of patients with abnormal uterine bleeding: a pilot clinical trial. Phytother Res . 2009;23(10):1411-1414.
35. Malek F, Boskabady MH, Borushaki MT, Tohidi M. Bronchodilatory effect of Portulaca oleracea in airways of asthmatic patients. J Ethnopharmacol . 2004;93(1):57-62.
36. El-Sayed MI. Effects of Portulaca oleracea L. seeds in treatment of type-2 diabetes mellitus patients as adjunctive and alternative therapy. J Ethnopharmacol . 2011;137(1):643-651.
37. Agha-Hosseini F, Borhan-Mojabi K, Monsef-Esfahani HR, Mirzaii-Dizgah I, Etemad-Moghadam S, Karagah A. Efficacy of purslane in the treatment of oral lichen planus. Phytother Res . 2010;24(2):240-244.
38. Chavalittumrong P, Chivapat S, Attawish A, et al. Chronic toxicity study of Portulaca grandiflora Hook. J Ethnopharmacol . 2004;90(2-3):375-380.

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