Research & Science

Over 200 scientific papers have been published on the benefits and attributes of Nopal. These reports are found in the highest quality, peer-reviewed journals and are supported by the National Institutes of Health database to ensure that the conclusions were valid.

The scientific papers chronicle improvements in cell function, immunity, detoxification – and especially a reduction in inflammation. There is a wide array of information found on sites like that provide comprehensive studies that mention topics like obesity, brain protection, immune support, blood sugar benefits and much more!

Nopal cactus fruit contains a very rare and powerful class of antioxidants called bioflavonoids – or otherwise known as betalains in some scientific communities. These bioflavonoids have been thoroughly studied with strong evidence that they may help the body detoxify itself and reduce inflammation. See what the scientific research community has to say about these incredible nutrients!

Opuntia Ficus Indica

  • Medicinal agents in the metabolic syndrome. “According to this study Prickly Pear Cacti. (Opuntia Ficus- Indica Cochlospermum vitifolium (Willd.) Spreng) whose many properties against diabetes and hypercholesterolemia have been empirically known for many years in humans.”
    Cardiovasc Hematol Agents Med Chem. 2008 Oct;6(4):237-52.
  • This study suggests Betanin a betacyanin pigment purified from fruits of Opuntia ficus-indica induces apoptosis in human chronic myeloid leukemia Cell line-K562.
    “Betalains are water-soluble nitrogenous vacuolar pigments present in flowers and fruits of many caryophyllales with potent antioxidant properties. In the present study the antiproliferative effects of betanin, a principle betacyanin pigment, isolated from the fruits of Opuntia ficus-indica, was evaluated on human chronic myeloid leukemia cell line (K562). The results show dose and time dependent decrease in the proliferation of K562 cells treated with betanin with an IC(50) of 40 microM. Further studies involving scanning and transmission electron microscopy revealed the apoptotic characteristics such as chromatin condensation, cell shrinkage and membrane blebbing in humans.”
    (Phytomedicine. 2007 Nov;14(11):739-46.)
  • Modulation of intracellular calcium concentrations and T cell activation by prickly pear polyphenols.
    “According to this study Opuntia ficus indica (prickly pear) polyphenolic compounds (OFPC) triggered an increase in [Ca2+]i in human Jurkat T-cell lines in humans.”
    (Mol Cell Biochem. 2004 May;260(1-2):103-10.)
  • Effect of Opuntia ficus indica on symptoms of the alcohol hangover.  “According to this study an extract of the Opuntia ficus indica (OFI) has a moderate effect on reducing hangover symptoms, apparently by inhibiting the production of inflammatory mediators in adult humans.”
    Arch Intern Med. 2004 Jun 28;164(12):1334-40
  • Opuntia (Cactaceae) plant compounds, biological activities and prospects – A comprehensive review.  “According to this study Opuntia species are utilized as local medicinal interventions for chronic diseases and as food sources mainly because they possess nutritional properties and biological activities in humans.”  Food Res Int. 2018 Oct;112:328-344
  • According to this study Antioxidant bioflavonoids help protect the cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels.
    “It has been suggested that some pigments would have antioxidant properties and that their presence in dietary constituents would contribute to reduce the risk of oxidative stress-correlated diseases. Among others, inflammatory response depends on redox status and may implicate oxidative stress. Vascular endothelial cells are a direct target of oxidative stress in inflammation. We have tested the impact of the free radical scavenger and antioxidant properties of bioflavonoids/betalains from the prickle pear in an in vitro model of endothelial cells. Here we show the capacity of bioflavonoids/betalains to protect endothelium from cytokine-induced redox state alteration, through ICAM-1 inhibition in humans.”
    (Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Dec;1028:481-6.)
  • The comparison of betalain composition and chosen biological activities for differently pigmented prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) and beetroot (Beta vulgaris) varieties.  “This study suggests Bioflavonoid/Betalain composition analysis and antioxidant profiles confirmed that the content and composition of these pigments is strongly correlated with the antioxidant activity of tested plant extracts measured by spectrophotometric methods and CAA test in humans.”  Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2019 Jun;70(4):442-452
  • Extension of life-span using a RNAi model and in vivo antioxidant effect of Opuntia fruit extracts and pure boiflavonoids/betalains in Caenorhabditis elegans.“This study suggests Bioflavonoids/Betalains are nitrogenous plant pigments known for their high antioxidant capacity via pharmacology.”  Food Chem. 2019 Feb 15;274:840-847
  • Bioflavonoids/Betalains, the nature-inspired pigments, in health and diseases.
    “It seems that treatment with bioflavonoids/betalains and bioflavonoid/betalain-rich diets is not only nontoxic but could also prove to be a promising alternative to supplement therapies in oxidative stress-, inflammation-, and dyslipidemia-related diseases such as stenosis of the arteries, atherosclerosis, hypertension, and cancer, among others.”  Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2018 May 30:1-30
  • This study suggests Cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) protects against oxidative damage induced by the mycotoxin zearalenone in Balb/C mice. “According to this study Zearalenone (ZEN) is one of the most widely distributed fusarial mycotoxins which is encountered at high incidence in many foodstuffs. ZEN was associated with different reproductive disorders in animals… Oxidative damage seems to be a key determinant of ZEN induced toxicity in both liver and kidney of Balb/c mice… It could be concluded that cactus cladodes extract was effective in the protection against ZEN hazards… This could be relevant, particularly with the emergent demand for natural products which may counteract the detrimental effects of oxidative stress and therefore prevent multiple human diseases.”
    (Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 May;46(5):1817-24.)
  • According to this study Opuntia ficus indica extract protects against chlorpyrifos-induced damage on mice liver.  “This original study investigates the role of Opuntia ficus indica (cactus) cladodes extract against liver damage induced in male SWISS mice by an organophosphorous insecticide, the chlorpyrifos (CPF)… These results allow us to conclude firstly that CPF is hepatotoxic and secondly that Opuntia ficus indica stem extract protects the liver and decreases the toxicity induced by this organophosphorous pesticide.”
    (Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Feb;46(2):797-802.)
  • Per this study Opuntia ficus indica (L.) Mill. fruit juice protects liver from carbon tetrachloride-induced injury.  “Opuntia ficus indica fruit juice contains many phenol compounds, ascorbic acid, betalains, betacyanins, and a flavonoid fraction, which consists mainly of rutin and isorhamnetin derivatives. Hepatoprotection may be related to the flavonoid fraction of the juice, but other compounds, such as vitamin C and bioflavonoids/betalains could, synergistically, counteract many degenerative processes by means of their antioxidant activity in rats.”
    (Phytother Res. 2005 Sep;19(9):796-800.)
  • According to this study Inhibition of nitric oxide synthase expression in activated microglia and peroxynitrite scavenging activity by Opuntia ficus indica var. saboten. “These results imply that Opuntia ficus indica may have neuroprotective activity through the inhibition of Nitric Oxide production by activated microglial cells and peroxynitrite scavenging activity in mice.” (Phytother Res. 2006 Sep;20(9):742-7.)
  • Per this study the Neuroprotective effects of antioxidative flavonoids, quercetin, (+)-dihydroquercetin and quercetin 3-methyl ether, isolated from Opuntia ficus-indica var. saboten. “These results indicate that quercetin, (+)-dihydroquercetin, and quercetin 3-methyl ether are the active antioxidant principles in the fruits and stems of Opuntia ficus-indica var. saboten exhibiting neuroprotective actions against the oxidative injuries induced in cortical cell cultures in rats.” (Brain Res. 2003 Mar 7;965(1-2):130-6.)
  • According to this study Opuntia ficus indica (nopal) attenuates hepatic steatosis and oxidative stress in obese Zucker (fa/fa) rats. “This study suggests that nopal consumption attenuates hepatic steatosis by increasing fatty acid oxidation and VLDL synthesis, decreasing oxidative stress, and improving liver insulin signaling in obese Zucker (fa/fa) rats.
    J Nutr. 2012 Nov;142(11):1956-63