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Purslane

Scientific Name(s): Portulaca oleracea L.
Common Name(s): Garden (common) purslane, Ma Chi Xian, Munyeroo, Pigweed, Portulaca, Pourpier, Purslane, Pusley, Pussly, Rigla, Sormai

Clinical Overview

Use

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, 180 mg/day of purslane extract has been studied in diabetic patients, and powdered seeds have been taken at 1 to 30 g daily in divided doses, as well as both ethanol and aqueous purslane extracts. Traditional Chinese Medicine recommendations of 9 to 15 g of dried aerial parts, and 10 to 30 g fresh herb, have been reported for a variety of indications. 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. It has been used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and is referred to as the "vegetable for long life." Aerial parts are dried and used for fever, diarrhea, carbuncle, eczema, and hematochezia.4 Other TCM uses include diabetes, atherosclerosis, vascular endothelial dysfunction, and urolithiasis.5 The Chinese, French, Italians, and English also used purslane as a food source.2, 6

Chemistry

Purslane is considered a rich vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, including tocopherol, ascorbic acid, beta carotene, and glutathione.7, 8, 9, 10, 11 The alpha-linolenic acid content varies with cultivar, geography, and environmental factors, with leaves having a greater percentage than seeds and stems.10, 12 The plant's bright yellow flowers are of interest in the food industry because of the nitrogen-containing betalain pigments.13, 14

Purslane also contains carbohydrates, lipids, glycosides, alkaloids (including oleraceins), sterols, coumarins, triterpenes, and flavonoids.15, 16, 17, 18 Phenolic constituents of the plant include scopoletin, bergapten, isopimpinellin, lonchocarpic acid, robustin, genistein, and others.19 Amino acids in the leaves of the Portulaca species include phenylalanine, alanine, tyrosine, and aspartate.20 Plant acids include citric, malic, ascorbic, succinic, fumaric, and acetic acids.21 The volatile oil of P. oleracea has also been studied and contains mainly linalool and 3,7,11,15-tetramethyl-2-hexadecen-1-ol.22

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, 8, 9, 11

Uses and Pharmacology

Purslane has been investigated for its pharmacological actions in neurological disorders, diabetes, cancer, ulcers, microbial infections, liver disease, and as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Clinical studies are limited.4

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.23

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.24

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.15, 25, 26, 27 Reduced inflammation consequent to hypoxic injury has been demonstrated with administration of purslane extracts.28 Other proposed mechanisms include increased glycolysis and adenosine triphosphate levels and promotion of endogenous erythropoietin.29, 30 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.26, 31

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.28, 29, 32, 33

Clinical data

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

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.34 The efficacy of purslane extract in achieving glucose control in adults with type 2 diabetes was evaluated in a 12-week, double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial (n=63). Purslane extract was dosed at 180 mg/day, which corresponded to 750 mg dried purslane or 15 g fresh herb per day. This dose met the criteria as 'food' and was in line with the recommended dosage of 10 to 30 g/day described in a Chinese herbal medicine text. No significant improvement was seen in glucose control overall. However, a statistically significant improvement in HbA1c was observed in 'responders' (HbA1c less at end of study) who received purslane. Responders who were treated with biguanides before study enrollment demonstrated a significantly greater change in HbA1c when treated with purslane compared to placebo. Purslane was well tolerated with constipation listed as the only adverse event probably related to treatment.35

As a component of medical nutrition therapy for patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association Standards of Care (2014) recommend an increase in foods containing alpha-linolenic acid based on beneficial effects observed on lipoprotein profiles, heart disease prevention, and overall positive health in patients with diabetes (moderate-quality evidence).36

Hypercholesterolemia

A triple-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial conducted in 74 obese Iranian adolescents with dyslipidemia to determine the effects of purslane seeds (500 mg twice daily × 1 month) on lipid parameters. Purslane was standardized to total phenolics equivalent to approximately 1.8 mg gallic acid. After 1 month, significant improvements from baseline observed with purslane that were also significantly different than placebo were seen in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (−11 mg/dL, P<0.001) and triglycerides (−16 mg/dL, P=0.006). No adverse effects were reported.5

Oral lichen planus

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

Other animal or laboratory experiments

In vitro studies demonstrated hepatoprotective effects against cisplatin-induced injury38 activity against human hepatoma and cervical cancer cell lines17 and increased proliferation of thymocytes and splenic lymphocytes.25 Purslane has been reported to possess antifungal, vermicidal, and antiviral effects.18, 19, 39 Experiments in mice showed increased wound-healing rates with topical applications of crude fresh plant extracts3 and reduced severity of induced-gastric ulcers with ethanol and aqueous leaf extracts.40 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.41 Circulating levels of melatonin have been increased in chickens and rats fed purslane.11

Dosing

100 g of fresh purslane leaves yields approximately 300 to 400 mg of alpha linolenic acid.11

Traditional Chinese Medicine texts have been reported to use 9 to 15 g to treat fever, dysentery, diarrhea, carbuncle, eczema, and hematochezia; doses up to 30 g/day have also been noted.4, 35

Limited clinical studies are available to provide dosage guidelines; however, the following dosages have been used:

Bronchodilation: one clinical study used 0.25 mL/kg body weight of a 5% aqueous extract.24

Type 2 diabetes: 5 g of powdered seeds taken twice daily over 8 weeks.34 When 180 mg/day of purslane extract (Portusana EFLA 308), equivalent to 750 mg/day dried herb or 15 g/day fresh herb, given for 12 weeks was showed potential benefit in diabetic adults treated with biguanides.35

Hyperlipidemia (adolescents): Purslane seeds 500 mg twice daily for 1 month improved LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in obese adolescents.5

Oral lichen planus: 235 mg/day of purslane ethanol extract.37

Abnormal uterine bleeding: Powdered seeds at a dose of 5 g every 4 hours for 3 days.23

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.23, 34

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Clinical studies are limited; however, no clinically important adverse events have been reported in these trials.23, 24, 34, 37 Older references suggest increases in kidney filtration rates and increased urine production, but these have not been further evaluated.34

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.42

References

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):131-136.12963132
4. Zhou YX, Xin HL, Rahman K, Wang SJ, Peng C, Zhang H. Portulaca oleracea L.: a review of phytochemistry and pharmacological effects. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:925631.25692148
5. Sabzghabaee AM, Kelishadi R, Jelokhanian H, Asgary S, Ghannadi A, Badri S. Clinical effects of Portulaca oleracea seeds on dyslipidemia in obese adolescents: a triple-blinded randomized controlled trial. Med Arh. 2014;68(3):195-199.25195352
6. D'Amelio, F. Botanicals: A Phytocosmetic Desk Reference. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1999:245-246.
7. Ezekwe MO, Omara-Alwala TR, Membrahtu T. Nutritive characterization of purslane accessions as influenced by planting date. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 1999;54(3):183-191.10716400
8. 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.
9. 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):207-213.11043602
10. 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):1870-1877.20070085
11. 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):331-332.16150116
12. 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.
13. 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):2523-2528.19227976
14. 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):527-532.19879120
15. Yang Z, Liu C, Xiang L, Zheng Y. Phenolic alkaloids as a new class of antioxidants in Portulaca oleracea. Phytother Res. 2009;23(7):1032-1035.19140117
16. Xiang L, Xing D, Wang W, Wang R, Ding Y, Du L. Alkaloids from Portulaca oleracea L. Phytochemistry. 2005;66(21):2595-2601.16203019
17. 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):635-642.20820911
18. 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):507-510.20410633
19. Awad N. Lipid content and antimicrobial activity of phenolic constituents of cultivated Portulaca oleracea L. Bull Fac Pharm. 1994;32:137-142.
20. 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.
21. Gao Z, et al. Determination of low molecular carboxylic acids in Portulaca oleracea L. by ion exclusion chromatography. Sepu. 1996;14:50-52.
22. Liu P, et al. GC-MS analysis of volatile oil of Portulaca oleracea. L. Ziran Kexueban 1994;14:72-74.
23. 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):1411-1414.19274703
24. Malek F, Boskabady MH, Borushaki MT, Tohidi M. Bronchodilatory effect of Portulaca oleracea in airways of asthmatic patients. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004;93(1):57-62.15182905
25. 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):448-452.19643128
26. Boğa M, Hacíbekiroğlu I, Kolak U. Antioxidant and anticholinesterase activities of eleven edible plants. Pharm Biol. 2011;49(3):290-295.21284538
27. 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):288-295.15452401
28. 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):227-233.17392109
29. 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].21543202
30. 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):246-250.19397978
31. 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):127-132.12899302
32. 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):527-532.19879120
33. 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):145-152.17764668
34. 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):643-651.21718775
35. Wainstein J, Landau Z, Dayan YB, Jakubowica D, Grothe T, Perrinjaquet-Moccetti T, Boaz M. Purslane extract and glucose homeostasis in adults with type 2 diabetes: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of efficacy and safety. J Med Food. 2016;19(2):133-140.26854844
36. American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes--2014. Diabetes Care. 2014;37(suppl 1):S14-S80.24357209
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):240-244.19585472
38. 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):185-189.20653291
39. 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):329-332.10925396
40. Karimi G, Hosseinzadeh H, Ettehad N. Evaluation of the gastric antiulcerogenic effects of Portulaca oleracea L. extracts in mice. Phytother Res. 2004;18(6):484-487.15287075
41. 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):1759-1763.20564433
42. 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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