Health & Nutritional Benefits:
For over 12,000 years, indigenous tribes in Mexico and South America have consumed Nopal cactus pads and the prickly pear fruit that grows on top of the pads. They have valued the Nopal and fruit as an important food source that also provided them with nutritional and healing benefits. Only recently, have modern day nutritionists, herbalists and medical practitioners also begun to realize and promote the outstanding medicinal qualities of this valuable plant and its fruit. There are a growing number of members in the scientific community who are now recommending Nopal cactus and prickly pear fruit as a health supplement for inflammation, colon-cleansing, hyperglycemia, cholesterol, obesity, atherosclerosis, gastro-intestinal disorders, liver function, and muscle recovery after workouts.
For example, renown natural health expert, Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D. states on his website: “I’ve long recommended prickly pear extract as a supplement to help control blood sugar levels among diabetics.”
Ran Knishinsky, a professional health researcher and book author of “Prickly Pear Cactus Medicine” * (Healing Arts Press, Copyright 2004) states: "There are many different compounds in the prickly pear cactus... Currently the best recognized compounds in the cactus are the flavonoids." p.6.
He further details the widespread research which provides a great number of applications of flavonoids, as documented in his book: pgs. 6-9.
* Age-related vision disorders:
"Flavonoids have been credited with preventing macular degeneration and fighting cataracts presumably via an ability to deliver blood and oxygen to the eye..."
* Antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antihistamine:
"Flavonoid consumption prevents the release and synthesis of compounds that promote inflammation in the joints and muscles as a result of fibromyalgia, gout, arthritis, exercise, and allergies..."
"Flavonoid compounds in such herbs as green tea, soy, grapeseed extract, and pycnogenol have been credited with lowering the risk of certain types of cancer (breast, prostate, stomach, pancreatic, lung) due to their ability to exert antioxidant actions by inhibiting the activities of pro-oxidant enzymes."
"Biologically active flavonoids help to normalize blood platelet stickiness... and thereby are an important nutritional factor in maintaining proper cardiovascular health..."
* Diabetes mellitus;
"In Europe, flavonoids have been used in the prevention and treatment of diabetic retinopathy..."
"The oxidant reactions of free radicals... have been linked to many chronic and degenerative diseases including heart disease, arthritis, and cancer, in addition to the aging process. The human body is constantly subject to attacks by free radicals..." pgs. 6-9.
* Cholesterol Management (Prickly Pear Fruits): p.82.
"A daily dose of 5 to 9 grams per day of prickly pear fruit pectin may be effective in the prevention or reversal of a hypocholesterolemic condition, though some studies showed that lower doses of 2.50 g of prickly pear pectin demonstrated effectiveness."
* Blood Sugar Management (Prickly Pear Pads): pgs 80-81.
"You are most likely to see pads from the Opuntia streptacantha or Opuntia ficus-indica variety used in the treatment of diabetes or management of blood sugar levels."
Author Ran Knishinsky further states:
"The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to treat self-limiting, acute ailments. It's best that you utilize the prickly pear cactus as you would an OTC product. p.83.
* Note: Prickly Pear Products, LLC does NOT sell Ran Knishinsky's book, "Prickly Pear Cactus Medicine," but does recommend it as a valuable resource in understanding the health and nutritional benefits of the Nopal cactus and fruit.
For other articles online about the health benefits of nopal and prickly pear fruit click on the blue links below:
- Internet: WholeHealthMD.Com: Supplements: Prickly Pear
- For scientific published research, click on our "Research Studies" Page.
Example of Published Research:
Front Biosci. 2006 Sep 1;11:2574-89.
Nutritional and medicinal use of Cactus pear (Opuntia spp.) cladodes and fruits.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA.
Natural products and health foods have recently received a lot of attention both by health professionals and the common population for improving overall well-being, as well as in the prevention of diseases including cancer. In this line, all types of fruits and vegetables have been re-evaluated and recognized as valuable sources of nutraceuticals. The great number of potentially active nutrients and their multifunctional properties make cactus pear (Opuntia spp.) fruits and cladodes perfect candidates for the production of health-promoting food and food supplements. Although traditionally appreciated for its pharmacological properties by the Native Americans, cactus pear is still hardly recognized because of insufficient scientific information. However, recent studies on Opuntia spp. have demonstrated cactus pear fruit and vegetative cladodes to be excellent candidates for the development of healthy food. Therefore, this review summarizes current knowledge on the chemical composition of Opuntia cacti with particular emphasis in its use as food and medicine.
PMID: 16720335 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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