Purslane - A Therapeutic Herb

by Sam Malone

Purslane is an herbaceous leafy vegetable once native to India and the Asian sub-continent. Also known as pusley, pigweed, purslane is now a common weed found all over the United States. Though you won’t find purslane in the grocery aisles as yet, all you have to do is keep a beady eye out for the plant’s typical recumbent stems, fleshy teardrop leaves and yellow flowers in your garden. Purslane tends to grow easily as it requires less water and soil nutrients than other plants. Many countries in Asia and Europe use the leaves of the purslane plant in their cooking. The leaves and stems of the purslane plant are thick and have a slightly sour and salty taste. The little yellow flower buds are also edible. Purslane seeds can be powdered and used as an herbal tea mixture as well. You can substitute spinach, kale or other green leafy vegetables for purslane the next time you cook. Purslane can be added to salads, sandwiches, juices, soups, and curries to add a slight peppery and tart taste to your dishes. When choosing purslane to eat, make sure there are no green or yellow spots on the leaves. Wash the leaves and stem in cold running water to remove any pesticides and dirt. Eat the leaves raw or lightly sauté or steam them to retain as many nutrients as possible.

The health benefits of the purslane herb are impressive. Purslane contains 400mg of the omega-3 fatty-acid alpha linolenic acid (ALA) in a 100gm serving. If you want to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, purslane is a tastier, vegetarian option as compared to fish oil. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for a healthy heart and to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and can help control symptoms of ADHD and autism. The high amounts of ALA in purslane can also improve brain functioning and be used to treat mental illnesses such as depression. Purslane is also valued for its antioxidant powers. Being rich in vitamins A, C, and E along with minerals such as iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, and potassium, regular consumption of purslane can help maintain skin health, boost immunity and prevent certain types of cancers. One cup of purslane provides you with your recommended daily allowance of 450mg of magnesium a day. A proper balance of magnesium in the body can help prevent diseases such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, and migraines. Calcium and potassium in purslane are especially beneficial to women as it can help prevent brittle bones and osteoporosis. In addition to all this, purslane is low in fat and calories making it a welcome addition to any meal.

If you are pregnant, avoid  purslane as the herb can make the uterine muscles contract. Another side effect of purslane is the tendency of the oxalic acid in the leaves to crystallize and form kidney stones in some people. If you are prone to stones in the urinary tract it is advisable to avoid eating purslane. Leaves and vegetables rich in oxalic acid also require a higher intake of water to maintain a normal input of urine and prevent the formation of kidney stones. Apart from this, there are no other contraindications or complications that may arise when consuming purslane. Just remember, if you are including the herb in your diet for its health benefits, the effects of purslane (like other herbs) may take a while to become evident. Herbs should not be treated as drugs but rather as a way to strengthen and nourish your body from within and to gradually improve your health.

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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