Ally - Joy of Purslane
an article by Susun S Weed
are powerhouses of nutrition. Used wisely and regularly,
herbs can replace costly pills and supplements,
and even some drugs. For example, if you currently
take fish oil capsules, omega-3 oil capsules, flax
oil, or antidepressants, a switch to purslane could
improve your health and save you lots of money,
Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a common weed in
cultivated soils throughout the United States. You
won't find purslane in the supermarket or health
food store (yet); you'll have to discover it in
the wild, which is very easy to do if you look during
the summer. In the country, look in gardens. In
the city, look in flower beds and planters.
With its thick red recumbent (laying on the ground)
stalks and its small fleshy green leaves, purslane
looks like a tender succulent, not a hardy annual
whose seeds find it easy to survive long cold winters.
When you find purslane, harvest it by cutting the
tender tips - as little as one inch or as much as
eight inches, depending on the size of the plant.
Eat fresh purslane alone dressed with olive oil
and vinegar or lightly sautéed in butter, or add
it to salads and soups. Try Purslane Pickles (recipe
below). Or cool off with Purslane Gazpacho (recipe
Herbalist James Duke says purslane contains up to
4000 ppm of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha linolenic
acid (ALA); that means a 100 gram serving (between
3 and 4 ounces) contains 400 mg of ALA. Purslane-fed
chickens lay eggs that have twenty times more omega-3s
than regular eggs. Eating purslane is tastier, safer,
and more effective than taking omega-3 supplements.
To increase the effect, Duke suggests adding walnut
oil to your purslane.
Purslane counters depression. It is one of the five
herbs - lettuce, amaranth greens, lamb's quarters
greens, and watercress are the other four - richest
in antidepressant substances. Purslane is a superior
source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, phenylalanine,
and tryptophan, all of which are known to moderate
the effects of depressive brain chemicals.
Purslane is loaded with nutrients. A single one-cup
serving contains all the vitamin E you need in a
day, as well as significant amounts of vitamin C
and pro-vitamin A. Purslane is one of the very best
sources of magnesium. One cup supplies your minimum
daily need of 450 mg. Lack of magnesium is associated
with diabetes, migraines, osteoporosis, hypertension,
And, that one cup of fresh purslane gives you over
2000 mg of calcium and 8000 mg of potassium. Women
who take calcium supplements do nothing to strengthen
their bones. Women who eat foods rich in calcium
- such as yogurt, stinging nettles, and purslane
- have flexible bones which resist breaking.
Purslane seeds have been found in caves in Greece
that were inhabited 16,000 years ago.
Does purslane have a place in your life? Remember
that herbs are not drugs and they don't work in
drug-like ways. Herbs nourish, strengthen, and tonify.
Their effects are deep-rooted and may be slow to
become visible. Because purslane is a food, it is
generally considered safe to use it even if you
are taking multiple drugs. As the effects of purslane
become apparent, and if your medical advisor agrees,
you may wish to slowly lessen the amount and number
of drugs and supplements you take.
Preparation time about one hour including picking
This dish is a late summer favorite. It looks like
confetti with the purple shiso, the green basil,
the white cucumber, and the red and orange tomatoes.
Everyone loves it, even kids, because it has no
raw onion (hooray!) and no raw garlic and absolutely
no hot pepper of any kind.
Cut juicy, ripe tomatoes (if possible, half red
ones and half orange ones) into half-inch squares.
Carefully retain all liquid and place in large bowl
with 6 cups cut tomatoes. Peel and remove pulp and
seeds from young cucumbers. Cut into half-inch squares
and add 4 cups cut cucumbers to bowl. Add 1 tablespoon
sea salt. Mix well, cover, and set aside in the
refrigerator for several hours. Just before serving,
add 4 cups purslane tender tips (whole or chopped),
about 20 fresh basil leaves and about 10 fresh shiso
leaves (cut across the leaf into moderate-sized
"shreds"), 2-3 teaspoons granulated garlic, 2 tablespoons
lemon juice, and 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil.
Adjust seasonings as desired.
Preparation time about 15 minutes, including picking
Use any size jar with a plastic lid. Narrow-necked
bottles can be a problem. Fill your jar or bottle
with freshly-harvested purslane cut into two-inches
pieces. Leave a little space at the top. Fill the
jar or bottle with room-temperature apple cider
vinegar, being sure to completely cover the plant
material. Cover. (Metal lids will corrode; do not
use.) Label, including date. This is ready to use
in six weeks; but will stay good for up to a year.
To use: A tablespoon of purslane vinegar on cooked
greens, beans, and salads adds wonderful flavor
along with lots of minerals. You can also eat the
pickled purslane right out of the bottle or add
it to salads or beans.
PO Box 64
Woodstock, NY 12498
Visit Susun Weed at: www.susunweed.com and www.ashtreepublishing.com
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Susun S. Weed is the author of four highly-acclaimed
books on herbs and women's health: Wise Woman Herbal
for the Childbearing Year, Healing Wise, New Menopausal
Years the Wise Woman Way and Breast Cancer? Breast
Health! the Wise Woman Way. Ms. Weed lectures world-wide
on women's health and herbal medicine. From her
home in New York State's Catskill Mountains, she
directs the activities of the Wise Woman Center,
acts as editor-in-chief of Ash Tree Publishing,
personally oversees the work of 400 correspondence
students, and trains herbal and shamanic apprentices.
Susun has lived the simple life for nearly 40 years
as an herbalist, goatkeeper, homesteader, and feminist.
She has been called "a true radical - deeply rooted,"
"a modern pioneer," and "one of the founding mothers
of herbal medicine in the United States†.