Purslane / Gulasiman – proven benefits, uses

The scientific name of the purslane is Portulaca oleracea (Linn.). It is also known as Common purslane, Little hogweed, Pigweed, and Wild portulaca.

Other names include

ARABIC: Baqla hamqa, Farfan, Farfag, Farfagin, Furfir, Riyla.
BURMESE: Mya-byit, Myet-htauk.
CHINESE: Ma chi xian, Ma zha cai, Ma chi cai, Ma xian cai.
DANISH: Haveportulak.
DUTCH: Postelein, Postelijn .
FINNISH: Portulakka, Vihannesportulakka.
FRENCH: Porcelane, Porcelin, Pourpier, Pourpier commun.
GERMAN: Portulak, Gartenportulak.
GREEK: Adrajne agria, Antrakla, Glystrida.
HINDI: Koorsa, Koursa, Kursa.
INDONESIA: Gelang, Krokot.
ITALIAN: Porcellana, Portulaca comune.
JAPANESE: Poochuraka, Poruchuraka, Suberi-hiyu.
NORWEGIAN: Portulakk.
PERSIAN: Kholza, Perpehen.
PORTUGUESE: Baldroaga, Beldroega, Bredo-femea.
SANSKRIT: Lonica, Louina, Lonamla, Loni.
SPANISH: Buglosa, Colchón de niño (El Salvador), Flor de las once (Colombia), Flor de un día, Lega (Argentina), Hierba grasa, Peplide, Porcelana, Tarfela, Verdalaga, Verdolaga, Yerba aurato, Yerba orate.
SWEDISH: Portlak, Portulak, Trädgårdsportlak.
THAI: Phak bia yai.
VIETNAMESE: Rau sam, Ma hien, Phjac bia, Slom ca.

Gulasiman is an annual, prostrate or spreading, succulent, branched, smooth, often purplish herb, with the stems 10 to 50 centimeters long. Nodes are without appendages. Leaves are fleshy, flat, oblong-obovate, 1 to 2.5 centimeter long, with obtuse apex and wedge-shaped base. Flowers are yellow, stalkless, axillary and terminal few-flowered heads. Heads are solitary or cymose with compressed buds. Petals are five and yellow, about as long as the sepals and notched at the tip. Flowers open only for a few hours in the morning. Fruits are capsules which dehisce horizontally containing many minute, dark brown, heart-shaped seeds.


– A very common weed found throughout the world in settled areas.

– Now occurring in all warm countries.


– Phytochemical screening yielded tannins, steroids, flavonoids, saponins, and alkaloids.

– Contains large amounts of l-norepinephrine, a neurohormone with vasopressor and antihypotensive activities.

High in nutrients, including vitamins (A, B, B2, C, niacinamide, nicotinic acid, a-tocopherol, B-carotene), minerals, fatty acids (esp omega-3), glutathione, glutamic acid and aspartic acid. Also contains flavonoids, alkaloids, saponins and urea.

– Plant contains urea, vitamin C, ash (1.6%), and fat (4%).

– Study of fresh aerial parts isolated ß-sitosterol, ß-sitosterol-glucoside, N,N’-dicyclohexylurea, and allantoin.

– Air dried and powdered aerial parts yielded saponin (32% as the highest constituent), alkaloid (26%), tannin, flavonoid, cardiac glycoside, terpenoid, protein, and starch. (see study)

– Study of aerial parts yielded a new compound: portulacerebroside, identified as (2S,3S,4R)-2-[(2′R,4E)-2′hydroxy-hexacosenoylamino]-3,4-dihydroxy-hexadecane-1-O-β-D-glucopyranoside.

Medicinal Properties of portulaca

– Considered antihemorrhagic, antipyretic, diuretic, vulnerary, antiscorbutic, refrigerant, tonic, febrifuge, anthelmintic.

– Leaves are succulent and acid.

Parts utilized

· Whole plant.

· Harvest when the vegetative parts are well-developed.

· Cut off the roots, steam, sun-dry.

· May also be used fresh.

Edibility / Culinary

– Plant has been used as medicine, vegetable and spice since ancient Egyptian times.

– Leaves are succulent; used as a vegetable component in salads.

– Condiment for fish and meat.

Excellent source of calcium and iron; also, vitamin C and ash.

– Used as alternative pot herb, particularly as an article of diet for scurvy and liver diseases.

Folkloric traditional medicine benefits, uses and remedies with purslane

· Pounded leaves and stems for tumors, swellings, bruises, gout and erysipelas.

· Decoction of leaves used as a wash for skin diseases.

· Poultice of leaves and tops used as anti-hemorrhagic, also used for burns, cuts and wounds.

· Juice used for dysmenorrhea, dysuria, dysentery, and for expelling worms.

· Leaves are used for poulticing tumors, bad wounds and ulcers; also for blenorrhagia and leucorrhea.

· The seeds have also been used as antilymphocyte; also used for dysentery and mucous diarrhea.

· In Punjab, used as vermifuge.

· Infusion of leaves and tops used as diuretic beverage.

· Decoction of seeds used as diuretic.

· For diarrhea: boil dried drug 20 to 40 gms in a cup of water to a concentrated solution and drink; fresh materials, use 40 to 100 gms.

· Poisonous bites or snake bites: get the fresh plant, wash thoroughly, add salt and crush, then cover the affected part with the preparation.

· Eczema: put crushed plant with its juice over the sensitive area.

· Acute gastroenteritis, bacillary dysentery, orchitis, nephritis, beriberi, edema: use 30 to 60 gms of dried material in decoction.

· Pulmonary tuberculosis, whooping cough: use 24 to 30 gms dried material in decoction.

· Furuncle infections: aside from treatment taking drug orally, external administration may also be applied in the form of poultice.

· In China used an emollient.

· In West Tropical Africa used for local applications to swellings, bruises, whitlow, etc. Also used as drops for earaches and toothaches.

· Applied to the forehead and temple to allay excessive heat and pain; applied to the eyes to relieve inflammation. Applied to gout to allay the pain.

· Expressed juice of the plant used for prickly heat, as well as burning discomfort of hands and feet.

· Used for scorpion stings.

· In Jamaica juice prescribed for spitting up of blood; also used as cooling medicine for fevers.

· In China leaves used for poulticing tumors, wounds, ulcers and edematous swellings; also for blenorrhagia and leucorrhea.

· In Nigeria applied topically to swellings.

· In Cochin-China and the West Indies seed is used as stomachic and to promote menses; also used as diuretic and emollient.

· Tamil practitioners used the bruised leaves as application in erysipelas; an infusion is used as diuretic in dysuria.

· In Guadalupe plant is used as tonic and febrifuge.

· In Siberia used as a gastric sedative.

· In Indo-China decoction of leaves used for dysentery.

· In the Gold Coast leaves are ground, mixed with oil, and tied on boils to bring them to a head; also, eaten with tiger nuts (Cyperus esculentus) as a remedy for skin diseases; also, macerated in cold water and drunk as heart tonic and diuretic, and for palpitations.

· In Columbia used as emollient, and applied to tumors and callosities.

· In Pakistan, used for kidney, liver, urinary bladder and lung problems.

· In Iranian folk medicine, used to treat abnormal uterine bleeding.

Other uses

·Magic / Ritual: In ancient times, considered an anti-magic herb, and strewn around the bed to protect against evil spirits; also to protect from nightmares. It was carried in battle to protect soldiers. It was also suppose to attract love and good fortune.

Scientifically proven health, beauty benefits and uses of purslane

Anti-Ulcer / Gastroprotective:

Study in mice showed inhibition of gastric lesions induced by HCl or absolute alcohol, with dose-dependent reduction in ulcer severity. The highest dose of extracts were similar to sucralfate in activity. Results suggest that P. oleracea has gastroprotective action and support its use in folk medicine for gastrointestinal diseases.


Study in mice showed inhibition and/or suppression of gastric tumor cell growth in vitro and in vivo. An aqueous extract showed tumoricidal activity against a human gastric carcinoma cell and human colon adenoma cell line.

Wound Healing:

Study of the fresh homogenized crude aerial parts of Portulaca oleracea applied topically on excision wound surface showed acceleration of the wound healing process with increase in tensile strength and decrease in wound surface area.

Analgesic / Anti-Inflammatory/ relives pain, inflammation and swelling :

Ethanol extract of aerial parts showed significant anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects with intraperitoneal application but not with oral administration. Results support some of the claimed traditional uses for relief of pain and inflammation.

Bronchodilatory effect / Asthma:

Study showed P. oleracea has a relatively potent but transient bronchodilatory effect on asthmatic airways.

Anti-Diabetic / Decreased Insulin Resistance:

Study suggests P. oleracea could improve insulin resistance in rats with T2DM, the mechanism possibly related to its actions in improving lipid metabolism and decreasing free fatty acids.

Antitussive Effect / suppress coughing, possibly by reducing the activity of the cough center in the brain:

Study in guinea pigs showed antitussive effects of Portulaca oleracea comparable to codeine.

Antifungal activity:

Extract study showed a specific and marked activity of P. oleracea against dermatophytes of genera Trichophyton.

Treatment of Abnormal Uterine Bleeding:

Study using seed powder showed that purslane seeds could be effective and safe in the treatment of abnormal uterine bleeding.

Hypoxic Neuroprotective Effect:

Study showed Portulaca oleracea extracts enhanced the EPO mRNA and protein expression in mouse cortices. Histological analysis showed the extracts lessened the inflammation damage of the mouse brain and the PO extracts or the herb-containing serum raised the viability of cells under hypoxic conditions. Results demonstrated protective effects on hypoxic nerve tissue.

Nephroprotective / protects kidney:

Study results suggest that P oleracea extract may protect against cisplatin-induced renal toxicity and may serve as a novel combination with cisplatin to limit renal injury.


Study showed the methanolic extract of P oleracea seeds to be active against S aureus, B bronchiseptica and Bacillus cereus. Study has also shown the extract of PO to have antifungal properties against Aspergillus niger and C albicans.

Ulcerative Colitis:

Study showed decoction of Portulaca oleracea exhibited benefits on the ulcerative colitis in mice with regards general condition, body weight, colonic mucosal pathology.

Hepatoprotective / protect liver:

Study of hepatoprotective activity of hydroalcoholic extract of the stems and leaves of Portulaca oleracea against Rifampicin-induced hepatotoxicity inn rat showed significant hepatoprotective activity, close to silymarin, a well-known hepatoprotective agent.

Amelioration of Diabetic Vascular Inflammation / Prevention of Endothelial Dysfunction:

Study showed an aqueous extract of Portulaca oleracea suppresses hyperglycemia and diabetic vascular inflammation, and prevents development of endothelial dysfunction.


Study evaluated the effects of alcoholic extract of Portulaca oleracea on lipid profiles of 60 Wistar rats. Results showed significant reduction of cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The activity was attributed to high density of antioxidants and omega-3 found in the herb.


Study evaluated the antifungal activity of P. oleracea extracts against hyphal growth of various fungi using an automatic single-cell bioassay system Results showed a crude sample of EtOAc extract showed specific and marked activity against dermatophytes of genera Trichophyton.

Hepatoprotective / Alcohol-Induced Hepatotoxicity:

Study evaluated a hydroalcoholic extract of leaf against ethanol-induced hepatic damage. Results showed reversal of altered marker enzymes.

Attenuation of Diabetic Nephropathy:

Study evaluated the renoprotective effect of an aqueous extract of Portulaca oleracea on diabetic nephropathy. Results showed attenuation of diabetic nephropathy through inhibition of renal fibrosis and inflammation in db/db mice.

Toxicity Study:

Toxicity studies on a methanolic extract were done on mice intraperitoneally. LD50 values showed moderate toxicity with effects on the kidney, lung, and liver in a dose-dependent manner.

Antidiabetic / Antioxidant:

Antidiabetic treatment with an extract of leaves showed significant reduction in thiobarbituric acid reactive substances and an increase in glutathione reductase in both liver and kidney of STZ diabetic rats. Results showed the extract possesses moderate antidiabetic activity with potent antioxidant potential in diabetic conditions.

Anti-Implantation / Abortifacient:

Study evaluated various extracts on fertility of female albino rats. Petroleum ether, chloroform and ethanol crude extracts showed varying degrees of reduction of implantation. An ethanolic crude extract showed abortifacient activity.

Anti-Tumor Effect:

Study evaluated the therapeutic effect of an ethanolic extract of Portulaca oleracea on tumor-bearing female mice with mammary adenocarcinoma. Results showed significant reduction in tumor volume, inhibition of tumor growth rate. Histologically, there was extensive tumor cell necrosis in the center. Results were attributed to the action of phytochemical compounds against tumor cells. There was no toxic effects on acute toxicity study.

Immunological Effects in Transplanted Mammary Tumor:

Cell-mediated and humoral immunity may have antitumor effects. Study evaluated the immunological effect of a 79% ethanolic extract of P. oleracea in the treatment of transplanted mammary tumor in female albino mice immunized with Candida albicans Ag. Results showed PO has the capability to enhance the immune system. There was an increase in delated type hypersensitivity reaction and antibody titer in treated tumor-bearing mice.

Antifertility Effect:

Study evaluated the anti-ovulatory, anti-estrogenic activity of a chloroform extract of air dried aerial parts of P. oleracea in female albino rats. Results showed an anti-fertility effect on ovulation by reducing the number of ova in ovary together with biochemical changes.

Hypoglycemic Effect: Study of an aqueous extract of P. oleracea showed significant hypoglycemic and anti-hyperglycemic effects in experimental rat models.

Deleterious Effect on Male Reproductive Function:

Study investigated aqueous and methanolic extracts on reproductive parameters in male albino rats. Results showed deleterious male reproductive effects with a significant decrease in testosterone levels, reduction in sperm motility, increase in abnormal sperm cells and reduction of germinal epithelial cells.

Chemical Constituents / Antioxidant Activity:

Study of 70% ethanol extract of crude drug of P. oleracea partitioned with EA and n-butanol yielded seven compounds identified as caffeic acid(1), oleracein E (2), oleracein A(3), oleracein B(4), hesperidin(5), adenosine(6) and adenine(7). Study determined the antioxidant activities of different fractions and phenolic compounds. The DPPH radical scavenging activity of three phenolic compounds (2,3, and 4) were higher than controls ascorbic acid and a-tocopherol.



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