Cactus juice can be used for treating anything from hangovers and inflammation to high cholesterol and diabetes. It is also thought to be effective as a weight loss remedy. In Latin America it is used as a home remedy to treat skin conditions.
The Mexican cactus, or prickly pear, has anti-inflammatory properties and is high in fiber, carotenoids and antioxidants. It can reduce blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes and also lower cholesterol levels. It can also be used as a laxative.
Cactus juice, when consumed several hours before heavy drinking, helps reduce hangover symptoms, like dry mouth and upset stomach. It is used as a folk remedy for sunburns, ulcers and bug bites. It may also help ease the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Some of these claims have not been verified or studied enough.
The leaves, flowers, stem and fruit are all edible and can be made into juice, jam or can even be eaten whole. Consuming cactus juice or supplements can cause some side effects, so it is always advisable to proceed with caution or under the guidance of an experienced medical practitioner. Side effects include nausea, diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. Diabetics who are on medication to control their blood sugar should not consume cactus juice without consulting a doctor. Prickly pear is available in many Mexican grocery markets.