The cactus pear or prickly pear, which is scientifically known as Opuntia, is an edible plant of Cactaceae (Cactus) family that eaten in Mexico, Southern America, and Spain. Studies like “Antioxidant activities” and “Prickly pear (Opuntia sp.)” indicate that the prickly pear contains the color pigments “betanin” and “indicaxanthin,” the soluble fiber “pectin,” and vitamin C. Apart from possessing, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, it has also been seen that the use of prickly pear extract can prove to be beneficial to treat diabetes, hangovers, high cholesterol and obesity.
Prickly Pear Extract Benefits
Studies like “The hypoglucemic effect of Opuntia streptacantha” and “Hypoglycemic action of different doses” suggest that prickly pear extract can control blood sugar levels in order to protect against diet-induced diabetes. It is true that it has been seen in studies like “Hypoglycemic effect of Opuntia cactus” that prickly pear extract does not affect glucose levels in healthy individuals. However, the same study also shows that prickly pear extract does have a positive effect on glucose levels in people suffering from noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.
Small studies like “Decreased blood glucos” also reveal that prickly pear extract is capable of significantly lowering cholesterol levels. Studies like “Daily prickly pear consumption” even suggest that prickly pear may possess antiplatelet activity, which makes it potentially even more beneficial for people suffering from prothrombotic conditions, especially diabetes and hyperlipidemia.
Alcohol hangover symptoms are associated with specific inflammatory mediators. Studies like “Effect of Opuntia,” apparently” suggest that those inflammatory mediators are inhibited from being produced when prickly pear extract is consumed. In this study, patients who took prickly pear extract not only displayed lower levels of C-reactive protein but also barely experienced any alcohol hangover associated symptoms, such as anorexia, dry mouth and nausea.
Studies like “Reversing gastric mucosal alterations” also highlight that prickly pear extract contains mucilage monosaccharides that tend to interact with membrane phospholipids as a result of a cytoprotective mechanism. This apparently enables prickly pear extract to effectively prevent ethanol-induced ulcers from forming.
Prickly Pear Extract Dosage
Drugs.com points out that capsules and tablets that contain prickly pear extract are now commercially available. The article advises the guidelines suggested by the manufacturer of a particular commercial product should be followed. However, it also recommends that it is best if 2 capsules containing 250 milligrams of prickly pear extract should be taken orally every 8 hours or thrice a day.
Prickly Pear Extract Side Effects
While consuming prickly pear extract is likely and possibly safe, taking it may result in some of the same side effects experienced when using the flowers, fruit, leaves or stems of the plant. These potential side effects include bloating, headache, greater amount and frequency of stool, and mild diarrhea, nausea.
The use of prickly pear extract should be avoided by people who have experienced hypersensitivity after consuming any component of the plant. Prickly pear extract has been verified to be nontoxic in human beings. However, certain rat-based studies have revealed its nephrotoxic nature, since it increased plasma creatinine and urea concentrations and lowered plasma sodium concentrations in the rodents.
- J Agric Food Chem: Antioxidant activities of sicilian prickly pear (Opuntia ficus indica) fruit extracts and reducing properties of its betalains: betanin and indicaxanthin.
- J Nutr: Prickly pear (Opuntia sp.) pectin reverses low density lipoprotein receptor suppression induced by a hypercholesterolemic diet in guinea pigs.
- J Ethnopharmacol: The hypoglucemic effect of Opuntia streptacantha studied in different animal experimental models.
- Arch Invest Med (Mex): Hypoglycemic action of different doses of nopal (Opuntia streptacantha Lemaire) in patients with type II diabetes mellitus
- Arch Invest Med (Mex): Hypoglycemic effect of Opuntia cactus.
- Arch Invest Med (Mex): Decreased blood glucose and insulin by nopal ( Opuntia sp.).
- Prostaglandin Leukot Essent Fatty Acids: Daily prickly pear consumption improves platelet function.
- Arch Intern Med: Effect of Opuntia ficus indica on symptoms of the alcohol hangover.
- Drugs.com: Prickly Pear.
- World J Gastroenterol: Reversing gastric mucosal alterations during ethanol-induced chronic gastritis in rats by oral administration of Opuntia ficus-indica mucilage.