Nopal (Opuntia)


Nopal (also known as prickly pear) has been used as both food and medicine. Nopals are common in North American deserts and are generally sold fresh, canned, or dried for use in the preparation of traditional Mexican dishes. Nopal juice is used in jellies and candies. The fruit is also eaten fresh or used in pies, deserts, shakes, or spreads.
Traditionally, nopal has been used as an anti-inflammatory or a laxative. Nopal may offer benefits to individuals with an alcohol-induced hangover, diabetes, or hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol). However, additional research is needed.

Related Terms

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.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Alcohol-induced hangover (Grade: C)
Some studies suggest that nopal may prevent hangover symptoms, including fatigue, headache, dizziness, and a general unpleasant feeling. More evidence is needed before a conclusion can be made.
Diabetes (Grade: C)
Scientific studies suggest that nopal may reduce blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes. More research is needed before conclusions can be made.
High cholesterol (Grade: C)
Some studies have found that nopal may help reduce cholesterol. However, more evidence is needed before conclusions can be made.