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Purslane: good for salad, it has a pretty flower and it’s great at expelling all evil.

Figure: Portulaca oleracea, common name purslane.

I don’t know much about Pliny the Elder, but he said something to the effects that :Nature distributed medicine everywhere”.  This is true, but what it means is that many plants contain chemicals that have medicinal effects on humans. This does not mean that every plant contains chemicals that are beneficial chemicals, in fact many have poisonous chemicals and others have no medical effects at all.  And certainly, some plants may have beneficial effects for one or another human organ, but not for our skin.

Pliny the Elder said that purslane, Portulaca oleraceae, could be used as an amulet to expel all evil. This is definitely not true, as evidenced by the presence of evil in a world that has plenty of purslane.

The other thing about purslane that is not true is that it elongates telomeres, extending the life of cells.  There is a cosmetic line that says it, which does not make it true, of course. This is what they say: “the botanical activates telomerase, “fountain of youth enzyme.” An increase of telomerase can protect our DNA, prolong the lifespan of cells, and retrain old cells to function as they did in their youth. Purslane, a natural super-compound…the plant helps to activate the enzyme. Stimulation of telomerase production has been shown in a Harvard study to not only stop the aging process, but to reverse it.”

What can purslane do for you? It is used in salads. It has pretty flowers.

Medically? It may be an example of medicinal plants that were used in the olde times because there was nothing else. Eating purslane salads will benefit you just the way that most salads made of fresh vegetables will benefit you, bringing vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and even a bit of gallic acid. But, no, nothing that will benefit your skin in particular.

Disappointed? Don’t be. If you garden has purslane, a common weed, just make a salad.


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