Go to Health: Celery and Purslane
About 40% of medicines in the U.S. today come from plants—or are based on chemicals found in plants. Beyond that, nearly 70 percent of the Earth's 6.2 billion people rely on plant-based medicine. Here are two examples close to home that we may have ignored:
Celery – crunchy and familiar
Purslane - an amazing ‘weed’
Celery lowers blood pressure: Scientists at the University of Chicago and at the Hunan Hematological Research Center in China have determined the mechanisms by which celery lowers blood pressure. Celery contains a chemical called 3-n-butyl phthalide, which relaxes the smooth-muscle lining of blood vessels, making them wider and thereby lowering blood pressure. Phthalide works by lowering the concentration of stress hormones in the blood, which constrict blood vessels. In studies with normal rats, a dose of phthalide equivalent to four stalks of celery in humans lowered blood pressure by an average of 13 percent. The same dose also lowered the rats' cholesterol levels by 7 percent. Celery contains 341 milligrams potassium and 125 milligrams sodium per 100 gram serving. Any food with a ratio of three parts potassium to one part sodium is good for people with high blood pressure. Small studies indicate that celery may also be helpful in reducing uric acid levels in gout.
Some people are allergic to celery. If that is not the case, try 4 stalks a day (not the leaves) for blood pressure problems, and check with your clinic and your home-based blood pressure cuff to see if it is useful.
Purslane has omega-3s and more: Purslane was used in ancient Greece, Africa and India as a medicine. Found throughout the world, it reached the Americas by the 1400s. Purslane contains more alpha linolenic acid (ALA) than any other leafy green vegatable. ALA, also found in walnuts, flax seed and greens, is slowly converted by our bodies into the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. Purslane has a higher mineral content than most vegetables we eat and has various potent antioxidants. After millennia of widespread use as a folk medicine, it is now being tested on a surprising variety of health problems.
*Oral lichen planus –a chronic condition affecting the lining of the mouth with white patches, which can be painful. Studies done in the US and Iran show that purslane capsules were helpful.
*Diabetes – preliminary animal studies in China show that purslane can lower blood glucose levels and raise HDL cholesterol (the good kind).
*Anti-aging effects – animal studies in China showed that purslane increased memory, mental activity and various biochemical signs of aging.
*Heavy uterine bleeding – Studies at the medical university in Qom, Iran showed that 8 out of 10 women whose abnormal bleeding did not respond to standard treatment had normal periods after taking purslane seed powder for 3 days after the onset of bleeding.
*Phytoremediation: Japanese scientists at the University of Osaka have found purslane can remove bisphenol A - an endocrine disrupting compound with estrogenic properties – from ground water. Indian scientists at the Sardar Patel Centre for Science and Technology have found that purslane picks up heavy metals in industrial effluent, and can be used to clean contaminated areas.
Go purslane, the 21st century vegetable! You can find purslane at some farmer's markets. You can buy seed on line; just search for purslane seed.
Sadja Greenwood, MD –back issues on this blog. Leave me your comments.