Prickly Pear Cactus
Nopal, also known as prickly pear cactus, has been one of the most
important botanicals consumed as a health-promoting food for centuries.
The cactus contains a wide array of beneficial compounds, including
antioxidants that are important for overall health. Our Full Spectrum
Nopal Cactus consists of flesh of the cactus "leaf", also called stem or
pad, for a full spectrum of nopal activity.
The nopal cactus,
with its large, paddlelike leaves, bright red fruit, and luxurious
flowers, grows wild and is cultivated in gardens throughout the
Southwestern U.S. and Mexico. Also known as prickly pear cactus, the
nopal is not only a mythic symbol of strength and health, it is an
important, nutritious food and it has been used for centuries in
traditional herbalism. Current studies now show that it is an effective
means of supporting healthy glucose levels, when combined with a healthy
diet and exercise program.
The benefits of nopal cactus (Opuntia
spp.) come at a time when many American diets contain high amounts of
refined carbohydrates and sugars. Blood sugar balance affects the
health of the kidneys, heart, eyes, and the entire body.
centuries ago, the ancient Aztecs of Mexico were a nomadic people -
unsettled and poor. The legends say that one day, one of their leaders
had a vision. He was told that the people should settle, and if they
did, they would thrive. They would know where to settle when they saw a
sign: an eagle with a snake in its talons, perched on a nopal cactus.
Roaming central Mexico, the people saw the sign in a location now known
as Mexico City. They settled there and they did thrive, creating one of
the most advanced civilizations in the Western Hemisphere. The nopal is
still legendary in Central and South America. The eagle, snake and
nopal cactus adorn the flag of Mexico.
The leaves of the nopal
are widely consumed as a vegetable, similar in taste to asparagus, and
the red, pear-shaped fruit is used to make jams, jellies and other
desserts. Herbalists have used nopal leaves topically for centuries.
and human studies in both Mexico and the US have shown nopal cactus to
have blood sugar balancing qualities. Further studies have found that
extracts of nopal also help balance fluids and electrolytes, two areas
that are often affected when blood sugar is imbalanced. Method of Action
effectiveness is said to be related to its unique evolutionary history.
Cacti are descendants of leafy trees, but during their evolution have
had to adapt to extremely dry, hot deserts. The cacti rely on stembased
photosynthesis, and their epidermis must remain functional for years, as
the cells regulate water and nutrients in an enclosed system. The
cactus must survive dry, searing temperatures, so it developed special
compounds called polysaccharides. These compounds cover a wound to the
cactus with a slimy film that turns into a tough impermeable seal,
protecting the plant from the shock of excessive heat.
nopal's polysaccharides, along with its pectins and mucilages, slow down
intestinal transit and absorption of sugar, thereby supporting healthy
glucose levels. The cactus also contains substantial levels of beta
-carotene and vitamin C, which also have antioxidant properties.