Nopal Cactus (Prickly Pear) Contains Betalains

(*) See References and Disclaimer at the bottom of the page.

Nopal cactus (prickly pear) contains betalains and it was believed that betalains were just plant pigments with no biologic activity, but it has recently been discovered that betalains are a group of phytochemicals possessing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties(1*).

Two main categories that makeup betalains: betaxanthins, pigments that are colored yellow to orange and betacyanins are red-violet pigments. The chief betaxanthin is called indicia xanthin while the primary betacyanin is called betanin(2*). Both indicia xanthin and betanin are absorbed by the body through the gastrointestinal tract and become concentrated in the blood serum(3*).

Betalains are considered very bioavailable, unlike some other dietary antioxidants, which means that the body has no trouble using them for its own benefit. In one study, betanin with a pH of > 4 was discovered to be twice as effective than anthocyanins (strong flavonoid antioxidants)(4*).

Beets and our Natural Home Cures Freeze Dried Nopal Powder Capsules made from the nopal cactus (prickly pear) are the best sources of betalains found in nature(5*). The nopal cactus (prickly pear) produces betalains in addition to other antioxidants to protect itself against bacteria, fungi, and other environmental toxins(6*). It is believed that the rougher the environment, the more stressed the nopal cactus (prickly pear) becomes and the better protection it needs in the form of betalains. Thus, harsher conditions produce nopal cactus (prickly pear) plants with greater concentrations of betalains(7*). When we eat the nopal cactus (prickly pear), we absorb the beneficial compounds that the plant has produced into our bodies.

Natives have used the nopal cactus (prickly pear) for hundreds of years for all sorts of illnesses. It is now being studied by western medicine and is thought to be helpful (but not a cure-all), in lowering blood sugar levels for diabetes, lowering bad, or LDL, cholesterol and reducing general oxidative damage(8*). Nopal cactus (prickly pear) may boost our immune system to its full potential(9*). Additionally, nopal cactus (prickly pear) may defend your liver from toxins, may assist with ulcers, promote general gastrointestinal health and may help protect our brain's neurons, this means it may assist with the brain's cognitive abilities(10*). The Nopal cactus (prickly pear) is also used to help wound healing, allergies, asthma, alcoholic "hangovers", joint health, weight management and prostate issues(11*). Moreover, the nopal cactus (prickly pear) has been noted to benefit the cardiovascular muscles through decreasing the body's platelet activity. (More academic, scientific and medical studies will be required to conclusively validate the above but current research is showing great promise)(11*).


     Source References
(1) Wikipedia: Betalain
Wikipedia: Betanin

(3) WebMD: Prickly Pear Cactus
(4) PubMed: Betalains--A New Class of Dietary Cationized Antioxidants.
(5) Wisegeek: What Are The Medical Uses Of Betalains

(6) PubMed: Biosynthesis Of Plant Pigments: Anthocyanins, Betalains, and Carotenoids
(7) Chemical Book: Betaxanthin
(8) LiveWell: What Are The Benefits of Prickly Pear
(9) PubMed: Cationized Antioxidants
(10) Examiner: Holistic Health Benefits of Nopales Cactus also known as Prickly Pear.
(11) PubMed: Recent Advances in Betalain Research