Natural Products Chemistry & Research

ISSN - 2329-6836


Cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica): A Review on its Antioxidants Properties and Potential Pharmacological Use in Chronic Diseases

Ulises Osuna-Martínez, Jorge Reyes-Esparza and Lourdes Rodríguez-Fragoso

Cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) has been used in traditional folk medicine because of its role in treating a number of diseases and conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemic, rheumatic pain, gastric mucosa diseases and asthma, in many countries over the world. Nowadays, the cactus, fruits and cladodes, is the focus of many studies because they contain bioactive (phytochemicals) compounds, well known for their health-related properties. It has been revealing a positive correlation between a diet rich in prickly pear cactus and a reduced risk of diseases associated with oxidative stress, such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. The Opuntia ficus-indica exhibits diverse pharmacological actions through its antioxidant activity: protects cells against oxidative damage, acts as radical scavengers, reduces lipid peroxidation and increases GSH levels. So far, there is no report about the adverse/toxic effects on humans. This review provides clinical and experimental evidences about the most important phytochemical that contribute to its action hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, hipocholesterolemic and neuroprotective in order to give the basis of their use in the prevention and cure of some chronic diseases. More studies on Opuntia ficus-indica could help better understand its pharmacological mechanism of action to provide clear scientific evidence to explain its traditional uses, and to identify its therapeutic potential in other diseases.