Prickly Pear (Opuntia) cactus extract
PRICKLY PEAR (OPUNTIA) CACTUSOpuntia is a plant from a cactus family native in Mexico. For Mexicans prickly pear is sacred, look at their flag and national emblem – it both has prickly pear cactus!
An old Mexican legend tells that an Aztec tribe long wandered in search of a place to live. But the Gods were not giving them good signs. One day, weary from many days of wandering, the Aztecs stopped for a rest on the shores of Lake Texcoco where they noticed an eagle sitting on a prickly pear cactus and tearing a snake with his claws. For Aztecs this was a good omen, they descended from the mountains and on the spot where they saw an eagle founded a town – «the sacred prickly pear place». Now, this is Mexico City, capital of Mexico.
APPLICATIONS IN MEDICINE
Prickly pear has many medical properties. Mexican Indians has been using its flowers, fruits, stems and roots as medicine for ages. For example, boiled and cut lengthwise scion was used as poultice. From gluey juice, adding few feathers, the Indians prepared “casts” for broken limbs. The roots possess diuretic action, but slimy juice helps with liver troubles. Prickly pear leaves rich with calcium and kalium stimulate production of insulin in the organism. Prickly pear possesses exceptional antibacterial and antiseptic properties, and is widely used in case of throat diseases, intestine and genitourinary system inflammation.
Nowadays, the prickly pear has gained its popularity due to its ability to help lose weight, while providing the body with all the necessary nutrients. Use of opuntia in food prevents formation of fat and increases its breakdown and excretion from the organism. This is possible due to one of the most essential prickly pear property – ability to bind up to 28% of fat – the cactus fibres absorb the fat molecules thus making it inaccessible to digestive enzymes. This process is accompanied by swelling of the cactus fibres, increasing in volume in the stomach and giving the feeling of satiety for long time – improved mood and decreased appetite! As a result, the weight is reduced, as well as cholesterol and sugar level in blood. In modern pharmacology a drug called «Proactol» is produced for weight loss from Opuntia.
APPLICATONS IN CULINARYAs it may be strange, but the «prickly beauty» is widely used in food! Since Opuntia is non–poisonous plant almost every its part (stems, fruits, juice etc.) can be used. Prickly pear can be eaten fresh, dried or boiled. Delicious syrup and jelly are used from prickly pear fruits juice, but from fermented juice one gets vodka or lemonade. Cactus pulp is used to cook sauces, jams, compotes. Young gems of prickly pears, peeled from spines, are the main ingredient of traditional Mexican dishes. Young flap cake-like stems are salted and canned, like prickly cucumbers.
Unfortunately, besides pleasant moments, prickly pear may bring unpleasant surprises if misused. Small, hair like prickles called glochids easily detach from the plant and penetrate deeply the skin, causing irritation and discomfort, sometimes even swelling and inflammation. The way to get rid of them is well known to American Indians. They successfully extract glochids that entered the skin with melted wax that detaches after solidified together with the spines.
ACTIVE INGREDIENTSOpuntia contains many useful ingredients. For example, the fruits that resemble the pear contain albumin, sugar and vegetable oil. The stems of the cactus mainly contain water (88-95 %). Large specimens of Opuntia may accumulate up to 2 000 L of water! The oil of the fruits is very valuable and rare; it contains Vitamin E, sterols, essential fatty acids as well as spirits (aliphatic, алифатические, 24–methylcyclophenol, cyclophenol, beta-amirin and other) and acids (stearic, myristic, linolenic, palmitoleic, arahynic).
OPUNTIA IN COSMETOLOGYEmployees of the Maltese Institute of Cell Pharmacology have studied the effects of prickly pear cactus extracts. It appears that the substances Opuntia contains in its tissues have a bracing effect on the organism, increasing protective functions and strengthening the immune system. The prickly pear cactus extract help men to fight the negative environmental aggressions: heat, dehydration, radiation. Opuntia’s extract is capable to protect the skin from free-radicals and aging. Superbly softens, nourishes and regenerates the skin, smoothes out the wrinkles, strengthens the tissues, tones.
Beauty Institute “Liorá” recommends:
Bernard Cassière Tribal Body IT SPA ritual invites you to enjoy the creamy full body wrap with opuntia extracts that would soften and hydrate your skin, accelerate cell renovation processes and strengthen the skin.
For home care we offer to use a light moisturising emultion with Prickly pear extracts Secrets de Sothys® Smoothing Body Balm for effective body skin laxity and flagging elimination.