Ancient Mexican natives used prickly pear leaves as poultices to heal wounds and bruises. Spanish colonists brought it to Europe, where it spread quickly all over the Mediterranean basin.
Prickly Pear Scientific Facts
- Other names: Indian fig.
- French: Figuier d’lnde.
- Spanish: Nopal, Chumbera, tuna.
- Environment: Native to Mexico and Central America, now widely spread all over the Mediterranean basin. It grows in rocky and dry soils.
- Description: Fleshy plant of the Cactaceae family, with fleshy leaves and stems, plenty of juice. It is formed by a series of oval-shaped leaves (pulpy) with prickles or thorns. The fruit is orange or red and is covered by spines.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The fruit (Indian figs), the flowers, and the leaves.
Healing Properties and Indications
How to use Prickly Pear
- The fruit must be carefully rinsed so as not to touch them with bare fingers because its many prickles are challenging to remove. Fruit can be eaten in syrup or fresh.
- Syrup: It is prepared by slicing the fruit and covering it with brown sugar. Steep for ten hours and then take the syrup (the resulting liquid), straining it to separate seeds. Drink it hot by the spoonful.
- Infusion with 20-30g of flowers per liter of water. Drink 3-4 cups per day.
- Poultices: The leaves are cut, then softly heated in an oven, and directly applied to the affected skin area.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 718. Print.