Benefits of prickly pear cactus

Tuesday May 9 2017

Prickly pear cactus doesn’t look like your

Prickly pear cactus doesn’t look like your ideal choice of fruit. However, it is packed with nutrients that will keep your health intact. 

By Carolyne B Atangaza

Atim Gloria 37, had been struggling with Type 2 diabetes for seven years. She was on a daily dose of insulin injections coupled with metphormine drugs. She weighed around 100kgs at her biggest and carried most of the fat around her midsection. She had tried various herbs but none ever worked for her until she was advised to try out cactus. “I started taking cactus juice every morning before my breakfast.
At first I found it difficult to drink because of its taste and sliminess until I learnt to blend it with lemon, beetroot and pineapple to improve the taste. Within a month I had lost about 10kgs and my blood sugar had improved. On my next visit to the doctor, my sugars were in normal range and we agreed that I could get off all the medication as long as I continued taking the cactus, watched my diet and exercise regularly,” says Atim.
Dr Pamplona Roger confirms what Atim discovered, that cactus leaf combined with exercise improves insulin sensitivity. He explains that eating a diet supplemented with 5 per cent cactus complemented with regular exercise like swimming drastically reduces insulin levels.
Prickly pear cactus, a member of the genus Opuntia, also known as nopal cactus, grows in warm, arid parts of the world. Until very recently, cactus was just a wild plant and in some parts of the country especially the East, it was associated with witchcraft. But now research shows that the cactus leaf also known as prickly pear offers a variety of nutritional, health and practical benefits.
For example, the sap from the pads repels mosquitoes and is a remedy for minor cuts and burns, according to the University of California Cooperative Extension.
Dr David Okoth Dimo, a consultant plant Nutritionist with a health Centre in the US and Wellness Clinic on Bombo Road, says that including cactus leaf in your diet may boost your antioxidant levels. A study published in the January 2006 Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology reveals that prickly pear cactus has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Cactus also inhibits several pro-inflammatory immune molecules, which could potentially decrease the production of free radicals. It is also rich in anti-spasmodic elements and is used for common nervousness and insomnia
Cactus is rich in alkaloids hordenine and tyramine. Both these elements have antiseptic properties and hence can be used to heal wounds and prevent infection.
The fiber content in the plant helps in maintaining bowel regularity. Further it absorbs toxins present in the body.
Using cacti in the powdered form heals metabolic, digestive and heart problems. It improves immune system and balances other functions in the body
The extract of cacti plant is helpful to reduce hangover from the consumption of alcohol.