Sunday, 14 October 2012


Scientific Name: Portulaca Oleracea
Local: Purslane
Creole: Coupie, Pourpier
Other Name: Pussley, Little Hogweed, Pigweed, Moss rose

Purslane known as (coupie in Dominica) is a low lying and edible weed commonly grown in the Caribbean. It is an annual plant easily adaptable to any soil condition and can be found practically every where, even in between rocks, stones and in sandy places.

It is considered an invasive weed due to its invasive tendencies. Purslane can be seen growing on sides walks, along road sides, in low vegetation areas, vegetables gardens, and in recently cultivated soils around homes and else where.

The herb is considered to be native of India and Persia but has an extensive world wide distribution extending from North America, Africa, The Middle East, to Malesia and Australia.

The purslane family includes several fleshy plants, there are approximately 40 varieties of the portulacaceae family to include the sesuvium portucastrum the (shoreline purslane) which are widely grown in salt marches and coastal areas.
Although purslane is considered a weed it may be eaten in a variety of ways, such as fresh salad mixed, stir-fried mixed veg, soups, stews, steamed, and cooked in rice like spinach. In Antigua and Barbuda it used to be a favorite ingredient in the recipe of the Antiguan Pepperpot. 

It is used as a rich vegetable source of omega -3 acids, omega 6 and 9, and high in vitamins and minerals content. In a research published by Artemis P. Simopoulos states that purslane has 0.01 mg/g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). 

Vitamins and Minerals. Purslane  is a rich source of vitamin A,B,C and E,and is high in carotenoid content, including bata carotine, calcium, magnesium, potassium, folate, lithium, and melatonin. Purslane also contains carbohydrates, lipids, glycosides, alkaloids, sterols, coumarims, triterpenes, and flavonoids.

100 Grams of fresh purslane leaves (about 1 cup) contain approximately 300-400 mg of alpha-linolenic acid, 1 cup of cooked leaves 90 mg of calcium, 561 mg of potassium, and more than 2,000 IU international units of vitamins A

Antioxidant Activity. Purslane contain high levels of antioxidant activity. It's roll in Asthma, Diabetes 2, oral lichen planus and abnormal uterine bleeding were suggested as favourable.  

Purslane use in The Caribbean. Although purslane has been traditionally used as a medicinal herb in the Caribbean few have truly understand the curative power and healing potential of this incredible herb. The plant is mostly cared for as an ornamental flower plant in homes.

History. Traditional Medicinal use of purslane dates back for about 2,000 years and it's use as food well before that period. The Romans use it to treat dysentery, intestinal worms,headache, and stomach ache. The English, French, Italians, and Chinese use it as a source of food.

In the Caribbean the Kalinago people (Caribs) would boil the leaves to be eaten as food, they would also used it as a poultice for back pains, in cooling teas, for intestinal worms, gas and biliousness.

Sea shore Purslane
Clinical Studies. Limited clinical studies have been done to provide dosage and guidelines. However experiments in mice showed increase wound healing rates with topical application of fresh plant extract, and reduced severity of induced gastric ulcers. 

Asthma. A small clinical trial evaluated the bronchodilatory effect of oral purslane extract and showed improvements in pulmonary function tests similar to to those done of theophylline.

Diabetes. Small clinical trials evaluated the effects of purslane in type 2 diabetes, and at 8 weeks improvement in serum insulin and triglycerides were observed and improvement were shown in liver function test.

Oral lichen planus. Puslane taken orally has performed better than placebo in treating oral lichen planus when taken daily at 235 mg of purslane extract.

Abnormal uterine bleeding. Minor studies evaluated the efficiency of purslane and found a decline in the extent and amount in uterine bleeding.   

If you are considering taking purslane as a supplement and is  suffering from kidney stones you are advise to consult your Doctor before doing so. 

It is noted that a half cup of leaves could contain as much as 910 mg of oxalate, a compound implicated in the formation of kidney stones. 

Note however that many other green vegetables such as spinach also contain high level of oxalates. 

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