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Herbs & Botanicals

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Purslane (ma chi xian)

What is purslane? What is it used for?

Although regarded as a weed in the United States, purslane is a well-known plant able to tolerate almost any kind of soil or weather. It grows up to 20 inches high, with purple or green stems; greenish, tear-shaped leaves; and yellow flowers that open only when sunny.

The aerial parts of the plant (branches, leaves, flowers, etc.) are used medicinally by being washed, steamed (or treated with boiling water), and left to dry in the sun.

In traditional Chinese medicine, purslane is used to remove toxic heat and substances, and to arrest bleeding. Among the Western conditions purslane treats are dysentery; boils and sores; eczema; hemorrhoidal bleeding; and abnormal uterine bleeding.

How much purslane should I take?

The amount of purslane being used depends on the condition(s) being treated. Many practitioners recommend 9-15 grams of dried purslane, or 30-60 grams of fresh purslane for oral administration. Larger amounts can be grounded into a paste to apply to the skin.

What forms of purslane are available?

Fresh and dried purslane is available at many Asian markets and specialty stores.

What can happen if I take too much purslane? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

At this time, there are no known drug interactions or adverse side-effects from taking purslane. As always, make sure to consult with a qualified health care provide before taking purslane or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Cowper A. Portulaca oleracea, purslane. Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism 1996;8(1):28.
  • Kamil M, Chan K, Habibullah M. A review on portulaca species — with special reference to portulaca oleracea. Department of Pharmacognostical Sciences, Zayed Complex For Herbal Research & Traditional Medicine, Ministry of Health, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism 2000;12(2):43-48.
  • Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics, 2nd edition. John Wiley, 1996.
  • Oh KB, Chang IM, Hwang KJ, Mar WC. Detection of antifungal activity in portulaca oleracea by a single-cell bioassay system. Natural Products Research Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul 110-460, Korea Republic. Phytotherapy Research 2000;14(5):329-332.
  • Reid DP. Chinese Herbal Medicine. Boston: Shambhala, 1993.

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