Nopal is member of the cactus family of plants and it grows wild on the American continent. It is extremely easy to cultivate as it will thrive in any type of soil and requires little care and attention. Perhaps more importantly, it has been shown that nopal can be used as an effective natural remedy for several common ailments. Here we have described some of the ways in which you can discover nopal’s healing properties.
Nopal is a nutritious food packed with calcium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. It is also an excellent source of carbohydrates, nitrogenous ingredients, fiber, vitamins A, B, C, and K, chlorophyll, riboflavin, and proteins. These essential elements are great for your health, especially your glands, nervous system, immune system, circulatory system, digestive system and respiratory systems.
You can eat it in many different ways. Some people like to drink the juices whilst others chop up the whole plant and add it to sauces, stews and salads. It can be made into tasty jams, soups and broths and can be combined with grains, fruits or flax seed. The main parts of the plant are tender to eat as a vegetable and it can be pickled to preserve it and add to the flavour. Many people enjoy it blended with fruit.
It has been developed into many products for external use such as cosmetics, creams and beauty treatments and applied to the skin or hair. People have made nopal soaps, shampoos, conditioners, moisturizing gels, lotions, pomades and eye shadows.
Nopal the healer
Here are just some of the potential healing properties of nopal:
- Antibiotic: Nopal can inhibit bacterial growth and so is very useful for wound healing and skin infections when applied as a poultice.
- Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory: these properties are useful in treating atherosclerosis which is a cardiovascular inflammation caused by plaque on blood vessels. The treatment takes the form of regular consumption of fresh nopal juice or of the powdered plant.
- Colon cancer prevention: Nopal is rich in fibre – both soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fibre absorbs water in the gut and helps food on its way – thus speeding up digestion. Any toxins entering the colon are moved along rapidly and are less able to cause the cellular changes that are the precursor to colon cancer.
- Cholesterol regulation: The amino acids, vitamin B3, and fibre content of nopal prevents excess sugar entering the blood where it can get converted to fat. Therefore it reduces the levels of “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides. It also helps to eliminate bile acids which convert to cholesterol.
- Colon health: Nopal helps in the prevention of fat and carbohydrate absorption which keeps the blood levels balanced and helps control obesity. In addition, it cleanses the intestines and keeps them healthy.
- Diabetes: In this disease, the body’s ability to control its blood sugar level is damaged and fatigue is a real issue. The 18 amino acids in the nopal give the body energy. It also helps the liver and the pancreas and increases the sensitivity to insulin – the movement of glucose to all the cells in the body is stimulated. Nopal decreases carbohydrate digestion which reduces insulin production.
- Constipation: The high fibre content helps digestion by moving food along the gut and absorbing water. This keeps stools soft and regular and prevents constipation.
- Weight control: The high fibre content slows down the absorption food and helps you feel fuller for longer. We recommend that you drink nopal juice with meals.
- Strong immune system: Your immune system depends on vitamins A, B, and C to build a strong defence against pathogens. Nopal provides these along with many amino acids which help eliminate toxins, detoxify the liver, and minimise the harmful effects of environmental contamination, cigarette smoke and alcohol.
- Healthy nervous system: Nopal helps to build a healthy nervous system which helps with cognitive functions and also helps you to relax and maintain a positive mood. It can play a role in controlling depression and other emotional problems.
- Excellent diuretic: Nopal juice is a great diuretic and so helps the urinary system function effectively to control the water balance in the body. It helps reduce inflammation in the urinary system and reduces kidney or bladder pain.