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Sue Reynolds, Master Herbalist
Sue Reynolds, M.S.W.
Lifestyle and Health Coach
Master Herbalist

Updated October 20, 2017
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Nopal (Prickly Pear) (400mg)

Well suited for the digestive system. Beneficial for the pancreas and liver. Supports normal blood sugar levels.

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Category:     Single Herbs
Synonyms:     Prickly Pear
Body System:     Digestive System, Glandular System

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Native to Mexico and other Southwestern regions, nopal, a member of the cactus family, is commonly referred to as “prickly pear”. Nopal is a great source of vitamin C and extremely nutritious. Nopal provides essential amino acids in the form of easily-digestible protein, and nopal also contains some mucilage and pectins that help support the digestive system.

As a diuretic, nopal helps prevent sugars, fat and starch from entering into the bloodstream and attaching to artery walls. Nopal supports healthy liver and pancreas functions and is beneficial for the prostate gland.

Nopal stimulates urine flow, neutralizing toxins and waste in the body. Nopal helps cleanse the bladder and lymphatic system, lowering sugar levels in the blood.

Nopal may also be used to help reduce fevers by stimulating perspiration. Nopal has been known to treat respiratory problems and contribute to the lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Nopal is already a popular natural health product in much of Latin America, somewhat like una de gato. Known as prickly pear cactus in America, desert natives like to eat its tasty ripe fruit. It can also be purchased as a speciality item in Latin stores. In Mexico its succulent, dethorned flat stems are also used as food.

The prickly pear cactus is an important botonical in Hispanic culture. You'll even see it pictured on the flag of Mexico. Prickly pear is also called Indian fig, spineless cactus, devil's tongue, tuna, and nopal, its common Central American name.


Recommendations
Take two capsules with meals three times a day.




The Advantage of Using Two Species
Alvin Segelman, Ph.D. and well-known pharmacognosist, tells us that the common prickly pear cactus is known as Opuntia ficus-indica, and in the U.S. grows as far north as New Jersey. Another species named Opuntia streptacantha is less well known to scientists, but it has been widely known in folklore for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years.

Nature's Sunshine, our manufacturer, decided to do was combine the benefits of both in a unique formulation not available anywhere else" said Segelman.

Nutritional Advantages of Nopal
Not only is Nopal a source of ascorbic acid and bioflavonoids, but its nutrients are especially well suited for the glandular system, being rich in benefits for the pancreas and liver in particular. The health of these two glands is vitally important for maintaining correct blood sugar balance.

As a fibrous plant, it contains pectin, mucilage and gums which are also helpful to the digestive system. These and other nutritional factors can prevent the bowel from absorbing dietary fat and excess sugars. The body systems most affected by folk use of Nopal are the glandular. nervous, circulatory. respiratory, and intestinal. The targeted use for this product emphasizes nutritional maintenance of the glands that regulate blood sugar; the liver and pancreas. Many other benefits accrue as a result of focusing on the health of these two important glands.


Nopal
An Abundant Nutritional Reservoir

Nopal is the common. South American name for the Prickly Pear cactus. This cactus can be found from British Columbia to the Appalachian Mountains. It is especially common in the Southwest. These desert plants produce bright and beautiful flowers. They can survive under a ferocious variety of climates, even in the hot, dry deserts, because of their ability to regenerate from pads, root calluses and seeds. Historical Uses

Nopal has a rich history of healing throughout many cultures. Early settlers peeled the stems of the cactus and bound them to wounds as dressing. The spines of the cactus were also used in a curing means similar to acupuncture where the offending part of the body was stuck with spines which were then ignited. The spines that burned most actively were thought to be the most effective. West Coast Indians were said to drink a mash of the pulp from the cactus to facilitate childbirth. Other American Indians were known to drink the pulp as a lung remedy. This cactus has also been used as a cardiac tonic.

You can eat, or even drink, most cacti. Nearly all cacti have large, thick, waxy stems that provide a great reservoir in which food materials and large amounts of water are stored. The flesh of nopal is soft and gel-like and contains many nutrients and minerals that have led to its recognition as prized food in many parts of the world for animals and humans.

Lowers High Blood Sugar
Nopal strengthens the liver and the pancreas thereby improving the ability of insulin to stimulate the movement of glucose from the blood into body cells where it is used as energy. A recent study with adult-onset diabetics in Mexico showed that there was a clear hypoglycemic effect on the obese. insulin-resistant patients, with simultaneously lowered serum levels of low-density cholesterols and triglycerides. Nopal is a healthy food for diabetics because it slows the digestion of carbohydrates thereby slowing the insulin production. Nopal also helps to lower the blood sugar and it is low in calories and sodium.

Improves Immunity
Studies have shown that cactus extract actually improves the function of the immune system. In fact, phytochemicals are powerful allies of the body's immune system, allowing it to defend the body against all types of pathogens. Lab animals given cactus juice demonstrate increased immune efficiency with regards to tumor growth, Epstein- Barr virus and suppressed immune response.

The amounts of phytochemicals found in nearly MI species of cacti make nopal a highly desirable and sought after commodity. Researchers have proven that phytochemicals inhibit cancer growth and may prevent cancer from developing. it is even considered the backbone of whole-food cancer prevention. The cactus contains many of these phytochemicals in quantities greater than many other more traditional plant foods.

Strengthens the Urinary System
The juice of nopal is widely used as an anti- inflammatory diuretic. Where there is pain on urination, with a continuing dull ache in the urethra and bladder well after completion, the juice can be taken to decrease the pain.

Helps Injuries to Heal
The pads of the cactus are very effective for drawing poultices. Contusions, bruises, and burns that are engorged and tender, contain much feral blood and disorganized interstitial fluid and the cactus can be used to relieve this. The gel softens the skin, decreases the tension against the injury and lessens the pain.





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