Portulaca oleracea (with the common name of Purslane, also known as verdolaga, pigweed, little hogweed, red root, pursley, and moss rose) is an annual succulent in the family Portulacaceae.
Although purslane is considered a weed in the United States, it may be eaten as a leaf vegetable. It has a slightly sour and salty taste and is eaten throughout much of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Mexico.
Purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant.
Chemical constituents of Portulaca oleracea include:
- Calcium salts
- Malic acid
- Citric acid
- Glutamic acid
- Asparagic acid
- Nicotinic acid
There are a number of health benefits that have been identified with Purslane:
- The betacyanins isolated from Portulaca oleracea improved cognition deficits in aged mice. 1
- Homoisoflavonoids from the plant showed in vitro cytotoxic activities towards four human cancer cell lines. Four homoisoflavonoids named portulacanones A-D, identified as 2′-hydroxy- 5,7-dimethoxy-3-benzyl-chroman-4-one, 2′-hydroxy-5,6,7-trimethoxy-3-benzyl-chroman-4-one, 5,2′-dihydroxy-6,7-dimethoxy-3-benzyl-chroman-4-one, and 5,2′-dihydroxy-7-methoxy-3-benzylidene-chroman-4-one, were isolated from aerial parts of the plant Portulaca oleracea along with nine other known metabolites. Three homoisoflavonoids and the known compound 2,2′-dihydroxy-4′,6′-dimethoxychalcone selectively showed in vitro cytotoxic activities towards four human cancer cell lines. 2
- Purslane may improve survival under conditions of Hypoxia. The survival time of mice in hypoxic conditions in flavones-treated group was significantly longer than that in the untreated group. The RBC, Hb concentration, HCT, plasma EPO level and the relative values of EPO mRNA in renal tissue and pallium of mice were significantly higher in the flavones-treated group than those in the untreated group. The anti-hypoxia ingredients extracted from Portulaca oleracea are flavones and the anti-hypoxia effects may be obtained by improving the expression level of EPO and accelerating the generations of erythrocyte and Hb. 3
The most promising health benefit of Purslane was explained in a study from 2007 published in Chemico-Biological Interactions. The study showed that Puslane extract slowed telomere shortening in mice by 24-57%. 4
This telomere shortening with the en vivo adminstration of Purslane occurred after only two weeks of treatment. The study not only showed that Purslane could slow the shortening of telomeres, but also up-regulate the activity of telomerase.
The authors of the study concluded that:
“Telomere length was determined using pulse gel electrophoresis followed by Southern blot hybridization with telomere-specific probes.Average telomere lengths were shown in Fig. 3A. Telomere length assay revealed that PHAS-fed groups were longer than those in the controls and d-gal model groups. PHAS-fed group of different concentrations led to resulted in the significant increment of the mean telomere length (Fig. 3B, P < 0.05).
We then again evaluated the effect of PHAS on telomerase activity. Our data suggested that PHAS could up-regulate telomerase activity in PHAS-fed groups. Telomerase activity were shown in Fig. 3C. It revealed that PHAS-fed groups had higher than those in the controls and d-gal model groups. PHAS-fed group of different concentrations led to resulted in the significant increment of the telomerase activity.
Taken together, it suggested that PHAS played an active effect in up-regulate telomerase activity and telomere length through a p21waf1-dependent and a p53-independent.” 5
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