Medical Uses of Cactus


As a common plant which are cultivated in many houses, cactus is often used for making jellies, tea, juice and additives for alcoholic beverages. Regarding the medical values of this plant, it is generally used to treat skin and intestinal diseases. Moreover, smashed cactus is also used as a traditional herbal medicine for treating burns, diabetes and dyspepsia. Compared with other parts of this plant, its flower has the highest medicinal value. Some active ingredients contained in the flowers include quercetin, rutin, β-sitosterol, Luteolin, kaempferol, isorhamnetin, beta-glucosidase acid, etc. Its skin also contains a variety of minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium and selenium. Its pulp is a rich source of flavonoids and carotenoids which are strong antioxidants to protect our body from damages from free radicals.


The ancient people used to put smashed cactus on burned wounds for quick heal. This is because people think the plant can prevent infection and irritation and facilitate the healing process. In Mexico, cactus is also used for the treatment of diabetes, asthma and a herbal home remedies for gonorrhea. Moreover, cactus stems can be used for treatment of high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal diseases, glaucoma, liver diseases and injuries.

In Korea, people have been using Cactus to relieve indigestion symptoms and stomach pain for hundreds of years. The general method to use cactus parts is take them orally. For skin burns, it is usually used externally. Moreover, the root of this plant is also used to cure diuretic and wound disinfection. Some people also use them in the treatment of joint pain and pertussis. Clinical experiments also shown that cactus is able to facilitate the process of wound healing. Many scientific studies have found that it contains the polysaccharide components which can help diabetics patients to control their blood sugar levels. The anti-inflammatory effects of cactus roots are mainly from the beta-sitosterol substance which is already be proved to be able to eliminate the inflammation. The phospholipid contained in cactus can also help reduce ulcer. In addition, the polysaccharide components contained in this plant can accelerate the wound healing speed.

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Image provided by КошкинаАня [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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