Aloha! I’d love to tell you about the medicine in my yard right now, but I am not in my yard right now. I’m on the lush, green, fertile island of Kauai, the garden isle of the Hawaiian Islands. The place where the flora is so green you think a dinosaur may pop out at any moment and the soil so mineral rich that it is actually red, from oxidized iron in the soil.
Yesterday, after landing and rushing to the beach to get the boys toes in the water I spied a collection of white tent tops and some people walking to their cars with bags of produce. We stopped and I gathered all my cash and we found the Kapa’a farmers market in it’s last few minutes of operation. I wandered from stall to stall, filling my bags as I went. So much deliciousness.
Grapefruit, apple bananas, thai bananas, papaya, avocados, dragonfruit, greens galore, carrots, radishes, beans, tomatoes, fresh turmeric root, fresh ginger root, and the topic of today’s post… purslane.
I have to say, out of sheer interest and before undertaking my current herbal program, I have been unofficially studying nutrition and medicine and food as medicine for years. Actually, a good decade. Wandering thru a market that has a completely different growing climate than mine and actually knowing the foods was quite a thrill. I picked up a bundle of purple, serrated edges leaves… shisho? I confirm with the farmer. He nods, surprised this (obvious) tourist knows these foods. Purslane? I ask. Moringa? Yep. Turmeric? Yep. Feels good, years of haphazard learning paying off. Feels good to be in my element with real, genuine food. Not the sterilized, homogenized, fluorescent lit, air conditioned produce section of the grocery store.
So to purslane. This beautiful, beautiful, noxious weed. Yes, I am being sarcastic, but seriously though...
Purslane is considered a noxious weed, another side note, in my observation “noxious weeds” are often the epitome of the exact plants that humans desperately need to support our ever diminishing nutritional health. Nettles - noxious weeds, milk thistle - noxious weeds, oneseed hawthorn - noxious weed… you get my drift? In my humble opinion I would say that Mother Nature, being exceptionally more intentional than we could ever hope to be, has been throwing us the plants that we collectively need most, in excess so we can all have some. She has a way of supporting the needs of the species at risk. Purslane has more omega-3’s than any green plant, nettles are a full spectrum superfood and are especially mineral rich, milk thistle supports regeneration of liver cells in a one-of-a-kind way, hawthorn is an all encompassing cardiac medicine that is useful for all components of heart disease. Perhaps instead of spraying these plants we should consume them?
Purslane: fleshy, succulent leaves that have an ever so slight lemony tartness. Purslane is drought tolerant and loves rocky soils, it multiplies readily and once you have it, you may just need to embrace it. I certainly would recommend embracing it in the form of consuming it.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a source of melatonin, exceptionally high in beta-carotene and vitamin E, vitamin C, B-complex, and minerals including iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and manganese.
Medicinally, it is used to soothe burns, treat headaches, stomachaches, coughs, and arthritis. I don’t know the specifics of how it is used in these ways. As a herbalist I am trained in the herbs that are exceptionally effective for these ailments - meaning I would probably recommend other herbs for all of these conditions. That said, I have found that the underlying tone of most medical conditions is the theme of nutrient deficiency, especially fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin B’s, and minerals, something superfoods like purslane address. So to suggest that consuming it could help with these conditions makes total sense to me.
When I go out for my run in the morning I will be looking for purslane. Medicine really is all around us, no matter where we are. #medicineinourmidst