SUMMARY — Anti-cancer:
Based on recent studies, cactus pear inhibits the proliferation of cervical, ovarian and bladder cancer cell lines in vitro and suppresses tumor growth in nude mice in vivo comparable to synthetic retinoid retinamide, which is currently used as a chemopreventive agent in ovarian cancer chemoprevention.
The presence of several antioxidants (ascorbic acid, carotenoids, reduced glutathione, cysteine, taurine and flavonoids such as quercetin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin) has been detected in cactus pear. Recently the antioxidant properties of betalains (betanin and indicaxanthin) have been revealed in prickly pear. Polyphenolics are antioxidants with well-known cardioprotective, anticancer, antiviral and antiallergenic properties. Cactus polyphenolics induse a rise of the intracellular pool of calcium ions from the endoplasmic reticulum and thus perturb the expression of the interleukin 2, which is associated with the S-phase transition in human Jurkat T-cells.
Study demonstrated that administration of a cactus stem extract to mice, horses, and humans inhibits intracellular replication of a number of DNA- and RNA-viruses such as Herpes simplex virus Type 2, influenza virus, and HIV-1. An inactivation of extra-cellular viruses was also reported by the same authors.
Numerous studies have evocated the analgesic and anti-inflammatory actions of the prickly pear by using the
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fruit and stems. The research identified beta-sitosterol as the active anti-inflammatory principle from the stem extract.
ANTI-DIABETIC (TYPE 2) EFFECT:
Studies have demonstrated hypoglycemic activity of the prickly pear on diabetic humans.
ANTI-HYPERLIPIDEMIC AND HYPERCHOLESTEROLEMIC EFFECTS:
Evidence suggest that cactus pear reduces cholesterol levels in human
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blood and modifies low density lipoprotein (LDL) composition. Studies found that cholesterol LDL and triglyceride plasma levels were strongly reduced after 30 days of daily administration of cactus. The effects of cactus are generally attributed to the high fiber content of the cladodes, although other active ingredients (such as beta-carotenes, vitamin E and beta-sitosterol) may be involved.
While the cactus fruit has been traditionally used to treat ulcers, allergies, fatigue, and rheumatism and as an antiuric and diuretic agent, research has found alleviating effects toward alcohol hangover symptoms were associated with reduced inflammatory responses after excessive alcohol consumption. Amongst the flavonoids extracted from the cactus fruit or stem, quercetin 3-methyl appears to be the most potent neuroprotector.
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