Plants are used medicinally in different countries and are source of potent and powerful drugs. Over the centuries, the use of medicinal herbal has become an important part of daily life.
The medical values of any vegetables are dictated by their phytochemical and other chemical constituents. Phytochemicals are those chemicals that may affect health, but not established as food nutrients. A range of vegetable plant parts are used as raw drugs as they possess varies medicinal properties, thus vegetable plays an important role in traditional systems of medicines. In which different vegetable parts used as a medicine for a root, stem, leafs, flower, fruit and modified plant organs.
In fact, the art of healing and the knowledge of healing herbs are as old as man. But its progress is far behind as compared to other modern systems of treatment; however, the system of home treatment is accurate with no side effects of after effects like antibiotics of the modern medicines. According to the WHO, more than 80 percent of the world’s population relies on traditional herbal medicine for their primary health care.
Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is in the family Portulacaceae. Its local name is Kulfa. Persian name is Khorfeh. It’s North Indian name is Luni-bhaji. Ghandi is said to have eaten it and he called it Luni. It is said that Purslane originated in India, although it is a global herbal plant now. The species status in the New World is uncertain in general, it is considered an exotic weed, however, there is evidence that the species was in Crawford Lake deposits (Ontario) in 1430-89 AD.
It has smooth, reddish, mostly prostrate stems and alternate leaves clustered at stem joints and ends. The yellow flowers have five regular parts and are up to 6 mm wide. Depending upon rainfall, the flowers appear at any time during the year. The flowers open singly at the center of the leaf cluster for only a few hours on sunny mornings. Seeds are formed in a tiny pod, which opens when the seeds are mature.
Purslane contains Energy 16Kcal, Carbohydrates 3.4g, Protein 1.30g, Vitamin C 21mg, Riboflavin 0.112mg, Calcium 65mg, Iron 1.99mg, Magnesium 68mg. It has Riboflavin which works with other B vitamins and is important for body growth and red blood cell production and helps in releasing energy from carbohydrates. Riboflavin helps prevent aging, plays a crucial role in metabolism, keeps you energized and is even needed for healthy skin.
This wonderful green leafy vegetable is very low in calories (just 16 kcal/100g) and fats; nonetheless, it is rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Fresh leaves contain surprisingly more omega-3 fatty acids (a-linolenic acid) than any other leafy vegetable plant. 100 grams of fresh purslane leaves provide about 350 mg of alpha-linolenic acid. Research studies show that consumption of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and help prevent the development of ADHD, autism, and other developmental differences in children.
It is an excellent source of Vitamin A, (1320 IU/100 g, provides 44% of RDA) one of the highest among green leafy vegetables. Vitamin A is a known powerful natural antioxidant and an essential vitamin for vision. It is also required to maintain healthy mucosa and skin. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in vitamin A is known to help to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers. Purslane is also a rich source of vitamin C, and some B-complex vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, and carotenoids, as well as dietary minerals, such as iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and manganese.
Furthermore, present in purslane are two types of betalain alkaloid pigments, the reddish beta-cyanins, and the yellow beta-xanthins. Both pigment types are potent antioxidants and have been found to have antimutagenic properties in laboratory studies. Purslane is popular as a traditional medicine in China for the treatment of hypotension and diabetes.
Some of the health benefits of purslane include its ability to help lose weight, boost heart health, help in the proper development of children, treat certain gastrointestinal diseases, prevent certain cancers, protect the skin, boost vision, strengthen the immune system, build strong bones, and increase circulation. Purslane is rich in easily absorbed vitamin C and E, which is known to increase immunity to disease. Dried purslane has about five times more vitamin E than spinach. It is also a source of coenzyme Q10. Purslane is rich in pectin, which is known to lower cholesterol. It has been used as a hypolipidemic agent (lowers the fat content of blood) and in the healing of wounds, boils and burn injuries.
It protects bones against osteoporosis and reduces inflammation on bee stings and snakebites. The range of minerals present in purslane makes it a healthy choice for people who want to protect their bones. Calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese are all elements required to develop bone tissue and speed the healing process of the bones in our body.
The only potential downside that researchers have found about purslane is the relatively high content of oxalic acid, which can exacerbate the formation of oxalates in the body, which is what make kidney stones. If person is already suffering from kidney stones, avoiding purslane might be a good idea. However, boiling purslane down in water causes a great deal of oxalic acid to be eliminated, without losing many of the other beneficial nutrients.
This article is collectively authored by Madiha Nisar and Tabinda Athar University of Agriculture Faislabad.