By: Michael Anthony
Indian Fig, the lay name for Opuntia Ficus-Indica, is a species of cactus grown primarily for its fruit, or tuna, as it is called. The flowers and stems of this plant have many medicinal and body maintenance qualities that make it fantastic for human consumption. Culinary circles call it the “prickly pear” mainly due to its green color and little barbed hairs that it has all around it pods.
No one really knows where this plant hails from since it has been widely cultivated for a long time. The main growing regions include Mexico, Sicily, Chile, N. Africa, Brazil, Algeria, and Ethiopia. It is believed that Columbus carried this, and it is known that the Maya of Mexico used it as well as the Nazca of Peru as early as the 15th century. Since it is a type of cactus, it thrives in dry, arid places with lots of sunshine and can tolerate drought well. I found out that humans have used it as food as early as 12,000 years ago. The more I learned about this plant, the more I became interested in writing about it.
Opuntia Ficus-Indica is mainly grown for its fruits, which are called tunas, and it is available in commercial markets worldwide, though I’ve never heard of it before, so I know I can’t march down to my local supermarket and pick some up. Getting on with it, let’s discuss what it can do for you as well as your dietary goals.
Uses of Opuntia Ficus-Indica.
This plant is known to be a good binding and waterproofing agent when those old Indians were building adobes and such. With that waxy cacti material, this makes sense. I love the fact that it is a remedy for hangovers since I like to partake in a little alcoholic merriment every now and then. According to the National Institute of Health over at PubMed. Opuntia Ficus-India fruits seem to be able to remedy hangovers by reducing the inflammation which causes them. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study was done on it with binge drinking college students and verified it. This is great news for who like to indulge in the occasional alcoholic beverage and go a little too far with it?
It’s also used as an astringent that reduces bleeding. This tendency to bind gives it an amazing benefit to excess fat that we may accumulate and get rid of it. It binds other things too but we’ll get to that in a bit. In addition, opuntia ficus indica treats gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome, and its good for enlarged prostate gland conditions.
One of the most valuable properties is its ability to bind fat. This plant is wonderful for weight loss and weight management. And guess what? A controlled study was done on this fat binding process too. It turns out that the cactus fibers do some interesting things when it comes into contact with excess fat. It binds up excess fat and enlarges the size of the combined molecule, making it too big to be absorbed by the body. Then it gets excreted naturally. This process also helps to reduce cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Pretty cool, huh?
This reaction also leads to a feeling of being full for a longer period of time since it now takes longer for your food intake to digest. There are a lot of incredible plants out there but this one is clinically proven to be effective at its job. Like milk, this wonder plant does the body good, as you can see!
Morgan Reyelts on April 11, 2016 at 10:20 AM
What a great article. I had never even heard of this plant until now.