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Nopal (Opuntia)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • 1-Heptanecanol, 3-O-methylisorhamnein, 4-ethoxyl-6-hydroxymethyl-alpha-pyrone, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, 4-hydroxyproline, 4-hydroxyproline(II), (6S,9S)-3-oxo-alpha-ionol-beta-D-glucopyranoside, adelprim, alpha-pyrone glycoside, amino acids, arabinose, aromadendrin, ascorbic acid, ash, aspasuc chocolate, barbary fig, betacyanin, betalains, betanin, biomage, Blanca Cristalina, Cactaceae (family), Cacti-Nea™, Cactus ficus-indica L., cactus flowers, cactus pear, CactuSlim, calcium, capteur de graisses (French), capture graisse (French), cardón de México (Spanish), catechin, cellulose, chardon d'Inde (French), Cheaters Relief, ChitoRich, chlorophyll, chumbera (Spanish), chumbo (Spanish), chumbua (Spanish), Coach Minceur, complete, corchoionoside C, cutting force, daucosterol, diet bread, Dietabelt, (+)-dihydrokaempferol, (+)-dihydroquercetin, DuoLean, (E)-ferulic acid, epicatechin, eriodictyol, Esmeralda, fiber, fiber & herb, figo da India (Portuguese), figo de pitoira (Portuguese), figue de Barbarie (French), figueira da India (Portuguese), figuera de moro (Spanish), figuier à raquettes (French), figuier d'Inde (French), Feigenkaktus (German), flame diet, folate, Frucht des Feigenkaktus (German), fructose, galactose, galacturonic acid, gallic acid, glucose, Gracemere pear, Herbopuntia, higo chimbo (Spanish), higo chumbo (Spanish), higo de pala (Spanish), higo México (Spanish), higuera de pala (Spanish), hyaluronic acid, Indian fig, indianische Feige (German), indicaxanthin, innocent peanuts, iron, isorhamnetin, isorhamnetin-3-O-beta-D-rutinoside, kaempferol, kaempferol 3-methyl ether, kaempferol 7-O-beta-D-glucopyranosyl-(1-->4)-beta-D-glucopyranoside, kaktea minceur (French), kaktuline, L-ascorbic acid, light malban, light nougat, linoleic acid, lipo block, lipoblock, Lipopuntia, Lipostop, L-(-)-malic acid, lomo notte, luteolin, maltase, manganese, mescaline, myricetin, Naranjona, narcissin, neOchelate, neOline, Neomincil, NeOpuntia® (Opuntia ficus-indica fiber), NeOpuntia® 100, NeOpuntia® 500, NeOpuntia® 1500, NeOpuntia® fettbinder (German), NeOpuntia® herb complex, NeOpuntia® kapseln (German), NeOpuntia® y FOS (Spanish), nopa lo, nopal cactus, nopal de castilla (Spanish), nopal flour, Nopalea cochinellifera (Linn.) Salm-Dyck (Cactaceae), Nopalea dejecta, nopales (Spanish), nopalito (Spanish), nopol, o calorie, OB2, opunce (French), opuncja (Polish), OpunDia™, Opuntia, Opuntia basilaris (beavertail cactus), Opuntia chlorotica (pancake prickly pear), Opuntia compressa, Opuntia compressa var. humifusa (eastern prickly pear), Opuntia dillenii, Opuntia ectodermis, Opuntia elator, Opuntia engelmannii (calico cactus, Engelmann prickly pear, Engelmann's pear), Opuntia erinacea (grizzly bear Opuntia, hedgehog prickly pear, porcupine prickly pear), Opuntia ficus-indica (Indian fig Opuntia), Opuntia ficus-indica f. inermis, Opuntia ficus-indica Mill., Opuntia ficus-indica var. saboten, Opuntia ficus-indica var. saboten Makino, Opuntia ficus-indica var. villanueva L., Opuntia fragilis (brittle cactus, little prickly pear), Opuntia humifusa (eastern prickly pear, low prickly pear, smooth prickly pear), Opuntia hyptiacantha, Opuntia imbricata, Opuntia laevis, Opuntia lasciacantha, Opuntia leucotricha (arborescent prickly pear, Aaron's beard cactus, duraznillo blanco, nopal blanco, semaphore cactus), Opuntia lindheimeri (Texas prickly pear), Opuntia littoralis (sprawling prickly pear), Opuntia macrocentra (black spine prickly pear, purple prickly pear), Opuntia macrorhiza (plains prickly pear, tuberous prickly pear), Opuntia maxima, Opuntia megacantha, Opuntia microdasys (bunny ears), Opuntia opuntia, Opuntia phaeacantha (brown-spined prickly pear, New Mexico prickly pear, purple-fruited prickly pear), Opuntiapolyacantha (plains prickly pear), Opuntiapuberula, Opuntiapusilla (creeping cactus), Opuntiarobusta, Opuntia rufida (blind prickly pear), Opuntiasanta-rita (Santa Rita prickly pear), Opuntiaspinosbacca (spiny-fruited prickly pear), Opuntiastreptacantha, Opuntiastricta, Opuntiastricta (coastal prickly pear, spineless prickly pear), Opuntiastrigil (bearded prickly pear), Opuntiavelutina, Opuntiaviolacea (purple prickly pear, Santa Rita prickly pear), Opuntiavulgaris, Opuntiavulgaris P., Opuntiawentiana, opuntin B, opuntin B(I), opuntioid cacti, opuntiol, opuntioside, opuntioside-I, palmatoria sem espinhos (Portuguese), pectin, penca, phase 3, pheophorbide A, phosphorus, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, phytochemicals, pentadieta, polyphenols, polysaccharides, polyunsaturated fatty acids, potassium, prickle pear cactus, prickly pear, prickly pear cactus, prickly-pear, protocole brule-graisse (French), pyropheophorbide-a, quemalip, quercetin, quercetin 3-methyl ether, raquette (French), rhamnose, rutin, selenium, Sicilian cactus pear, Sicilian prickly pear, soupe au chou (French), spineless prickly pear cactus, Start 3 Minceur, tabaido (Portuguese), taurine, taxifolin, termocuts, thermophilic laccase, Tri Action Minceur, trim form, tuna, tuna cardona, tuna de España (Spanish), tuna española (Spanish), tuna mansa (Spanish), tuna real (Spanish), tyrosine, tyrosine(III), Ultra Fett-Blocker (German), vanillic acid, vanillin, vita si-in linea, Vitalslim, Westwood pear, xebec, xoconostle cv. Cuaresmeño (Opuntia matudae), xylose, Zhi Puntia, zinc.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Traditionally, nopal, or prickly pear, has both food and medicinal uses. As a food, nopal is carefully peeled to remove the spines. Because the mature pencas (pads) are too tough for consumption, immature stems are used. The prickly pear plant is a long-domesticated crop plant, but it is also common in the North American deserts. The fruit is generally sold fresh, canned, or dried, for use in the preparation of nopalitos (a traditional Mexican dish made from nopal pads). It has a light, tart flavor. Nopals are commonly used in Mexican and New Mexican cuisine in dishes such as huevos con nopales (eggs with nopal) or tacos de nopales. The juice from prickly pear is used in jellies and candies. The fruit is also eaten fresh, or in pies, deserts, shakes, or spreads. Opuntia ficus-indica cladodes are the green stem of the plant and are generally used as animal feed or disposed of (1).
  • Traditionally, nopal is medicinally used as an anti-inflammatory or a laxative. More recently, nopal has been used in exercise recovery and hangover symptom reduction. Nopal is the most commonly used herbal hypoglycemic agent among persons of Mexican descent (2).
  • Preliminary studies suggest that nopal may offer benefits to individuals with an alcohol-induced hangover, diabetes, or hyperlipidemia. Additional well-designed clinical trials are required before conclusions may be made in these areas.
  • The nopal plant should be handled cautiously, as it is covered in long, sharp spines and shorter, soft-appearing barbs of glochids, which may be painful and difficult to remove once they are imbedded in the skin.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.