What is prickly pear cactus used for?
Prickly pear cactus is a plant. It is part of the diet but only the young plant is eaten; older plants are too tough. Prickly pear cactus is also used for medicine.
Prickly pear cactus is used for:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High cholesterol
- Alcohol hangover
- Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)
- Viral infections
In foods, the prickly pear juice is used in jellies and candies.
How does it work?
There are not enough studies about how this herbal supplement works. Please discuss with your herbalist or doctor for more information. However, it is known that prickly pear cactus contains fiber and pectin, which can lower blood glucose by decreasing the absorption of sugar in the stomach and intestine. Some researchers think that it might also decrease cholesterol levels, and kill viruses in the body.
Precautions & warnings
What should I know before using prickly pear cactus?
Consult with your doctor or pharmacist or herbalist, if:
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
- You are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription.
- You have allergy with any substances of prickly pear cactus or other medications or other herbals.
- You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.
- You have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals.
The regulations for an herbal supplement are less strict than the regulations for a drug. More studies are needed to determine its safety. The benefits of taking this herbal supplement must outweigh the risks before use. Consult with your herbalist or doctor for more information.
How safe is prickly pear cactus?
Prickly pear cactus is likely safe when eaten as food. The leaves, stems, flowers, fruit and standardized extracts of the prickly pear cactus are possibly safe when taken by mouth as medicine in appropriate amounts for a short period of time.
Special precautions & warnings
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking prickly pear cactus if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Diabetes: Prickly pear cactus might lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use prickly pear cactus.
Surgery: Prickly pear cactus might affect blood sugar levels, making blood sugar control difficult during and after surgery. Stop using prickly pear cactus at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
What kind of side effects may I have from prickly pear cactus?
Prickly pear cactus can cause some side effects including:
Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about side effects, please consult your herbalist or doctor.
What interactions may I have with prickly pear cactus?
Prickly pear cactus may interact with your current medications or medical conditions. Consult with your herbalist or doctor before using.
Products that may interact with prickly pear cactus include:
- Chlorpropamide (Diabinese)
Chlorpropamide (Diabinese) is used to decrease blood sugar in people with diabetes. Prickly pear cactus might also decrease blood sugar. Taking prickly pear cactus along with chlorpropamide (Diabinese) might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your chlorpropamide (Diabinese) might need to be changed.
- Glyburide (Diabeta, Micronase)
Glyburide (Diabeta, Micronase) is used to decrease blood sugar in people with diabetes. Prickly pear cactus might also decrease blood sugar. Taking prickly pear cactus along with glyburide (Diabeta, Micronase) might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of glyburide (Diabeta, Micronase) might need to be changed.
- Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Prickly pear cactus can decrease blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking prickly pear cactus along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
- Metformin (Glucophage)
Metformin (Glucophage) is used to decrease blood sugar in people with diabetes. Prickly pear cactus might also decrease blood sugar. Taking prickly pear cactus along with metformin (Glucophage) might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your metformin (Glucophage) might need to be changed.
The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your herbalist or doctor before using this medication.
What is the usual dose for prickly pear cactus?
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
For diabetes: 100-500 grams of broiled stems of prickly pear cactus daily. Doses are often divided into three equal amounts and given throughout the day.
For hangover due to use of alcohol: 1600 IU of a specific prickly pear cactus extract (Tex-OE, Extracts Plus, Inc.) taken 5 hours before drinking alcohol.
The dose for this herbal supplement may be different for every patient. The dose that you take depends on your age, health, and several other conditions. Herbal supplements are not always safe. Please discuss with your herbalist or doctor for your appropriate dosage.
What form does prickly pear cactus come in?
Prickly pear cactus may be available in the following dosage forms:
- Dietary supplement (Capsule, drink)
- Liquid extract
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: July 13, 2017 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019
Prickly Pear Cactus http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-880-prickly%20pear%20cactus.aspx?activeingredientid=880&activeingredientname=prickly%20pear%20cactus Accessed July 5, 2017
Prickly Pear Cactus Plant (Opuntia ficus-indica) Benefits http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-prickly-pear-cactus.html Accessed July 5, 2017