Health Guide

Prickly pear

What is it?

Prickly pear is an herbal medicine used to treat diabetes, lower cholesterol (blood fats), and for weight loss. In men it may also be used to treat symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland.

Other names for Prickly pear include: Nopal, Opuntia, and Penca.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease


Talk with your caregiver about how much Prickly Pear you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Prickly Pear. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.


  • Before taking Prickly Pear, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Skin rash (5)


1. Frati-Munari AC, Del Valle-Martinez LM, Ariza-Andraca CR et al: Hypoglycemic effect of different doses of nopal (Opuntia streptacantha Lemaire) in patients with type II diabetes mellitus. Arch Invest Med (Mex) 1989; 20:197-201. [Spanish].

2. Frati-Munari A, Altamirano-B E, Rodriguez-Barcenas N et al: Hypoglycemic effect of Opuntia streptacantha lemaire: research with crude extracts. Arch Invest Med (Mex) 1989b; 20(4):321-325. [Spanish].

3. Frati-Munari AC, Fernandez-Harp JA, Banales-Ham M et al: Decreased blood glucose and insulin by nopal (Opuntia sp). Arch Invest Med (Mex) 1983a; 14:269-274.

4. Frati-Munari AC, Fernandez-Harp JA, De la Riva H et al: Effects of nopal (Opuntia sp.) on serum lipids, glycemia and body weight. Arch Invest Med (Mex) 1983; 14:117-125.

5. Whiting DA & Bristow JH: Dermatitis and keratoconjunctivitis caused by a prickly pear (Opuntia microdasys). S Afr Med J 1975; 49(35):1445-1448.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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