In Europe, Iran, and India the herb has been used for its medicinal properties for at least 2000 years but it was probably used as a vegetable and cultivated long before that.
Purslane was known in ancient Egypt and is mentioned in Greek manuscripts as early as 600 BC. In ancient Rome, it was used as a remedy for sore eyes, dermatitis, inflammation, headache, abdominal pain, dysentery and intestinal worms.
It was highly regarded as a magical and medicinal herb in the times of the Roman Empire and Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD) recommended that people should wear amulets containing purslane to keep evil and sickness at bay.
Pedanius Dioscorides (1st century. AD) recommended consuming the herb as a treatment for a toothache, headaches, inflammation, and indigestion.
He stated that the plant juice could be used for high fever and as a cooling agent on very warm days and recommended the herb as a treatment for urinary tract problems and internal bleeding of all sorts.
In folk and traditional medicine, the herb has been used as a remedy for many ailments, including high fever, diarrhea, and urinary tract infection. It has also been used as hemostatic and was thought to be good for the eyes and sore gums.
Today, purslane is rarely used as a medicinal plant but it is still used in France to some extent.