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What is Prickly Pear Cactus?


What is it and where does it come from?
Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) is a flower and fruit bearing cacti plant that has been used for centuries by indigenous Mexican tribes. In the wild, prickly pear cactus grows in desert-like conditions, but it is now grown commercially in many European countries.

As a dietary supplement prickly pear cactus is available in powder or pill form. Prickly pear cactus is also available as a food item in North American supermarkets.

What does it do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this?
Prickly pear cactus is a rich source of flavanoids, including kaempferol, quercetin, kaempferol 3-methyl ether, quercetin 3-methyl ether, narcissin, dihydrokaempferol (aromadendrin, 6), dihydroquercetin, and eriodictyol. These flavanoids are responsible for its health enhancing benefits.

Traditional Mexican Indian tribes have used prickly pear cactus as a food item:
Mexico has a hot, arid, desert climate, and this makes agriculture difficult in the absence of irrigation technologies. Thus, very few plant species can survive under these dry conditions. Out of necessity and in the absence of other plant life, prickly pear cactus has been used as a food item by Mexican Indian tribes. It has been used to make jellies, soups, pickles, and even cheese products.

Modern science has discovered the many health benefits of prickly pear cactus:
Studies show that prickly pear cactus can protect the immune system and prevent oxidative stress by acting as a scavenger of free radicles. Its' antioxidant action will help protect cells and organs.

Not surprisingly, athletes have turned to prickly pear cactus to get more energy in the gym, to reduce post-exercise muscle soreness, to speed recovery and to reduce the changes of getting DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Prickly pear extract has proven remarkably useful as an ergogenic recovery aide.

Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?
Prickly pear cactus is not an essential nutrient and no daily requirement or allowance (RDA) exists. No symptoms of deficiency exist.

Everyone can benefit from supplementing with prickly pear cactus.

How much should be taken? Are there any side effects?
Some people are allergic to prickly pear cactus. Symptoms can include chest pains, difficulty breathing ,skin rashes, water loss, and an increase in the frequency of bowel movements.

** Consult with a physician before using any nutritional supplement.

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