Prickly pear (Opuntia spp) is a common cactus and a traditional herbal medicine remedy with origins in Mexico. Research shows that prickly pear has both antioxidant properties and the ability to lower blood sugar levels, which is helpful when treating people who have type 2 diabetes. Extracts of the cacti have also been shown to reduce total cholesterol and the “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, LDL) that are associated with cardiovascular disease. In a French study, for example, a patented prickly pear supplement improved cholesterol levels among most of the 68 women, all of whom had metabolic syndrome. In addition, 39 percent of the treated women no longer were diagnosed with metabolic syndrome after they completed treatment with the supplement. (Linares 2007)
When it comes to prostate health, benefits of the prickly pear are less well studied. Scientists recently explored the impact of prickly pear juice on several cancer cell lines, including prostate cancer, and found that it has potential to prevent oxidative stress and cancer. (Chavez-Santoscoy 2009)
Studies show that 250 mg of prickly pear supplement can lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, but you should consult a knowledgeable healthcare professional before taking this supplement to determine the best dose for the condition you wish to treat.
Chavez-Santoscoy RA et al. Phenolic composition, antioxidant capacity and in vitro cancer cell cytotoxicity of nine prickly pear (Opuntia spp). Juices. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 2009 Jun; 64(2): 146-52.
Linares E et al. The effect of NeOpuntia on blood lipid parameters—risk factors for the metabolic syndrome (syndrome X). Adv Ther 2007 Sep-Oct; 24(5): 1115-25.