Good question. Opuntia [commonly known as Nopal, prickly pear or paddle cactus] may well work to lower glucose levels in diabetic patients. But they haven’t been rigorously tested like our prescription medicine are and certainly aren’t standardized. Currently there are over 90 [ninety] different species of Opuntia. When buying Nopal in the market, it is impossible to know which species one is buying and therefore whether or not it is useful or harmful in treating diabetes.
I heard that the stem of certain Opuntia is used to treat type II diabetes, diarrhea, and stomach ache. However, usefulness of Opuntia in treating diabetes is not at all resolved. Although some researchers have shown a blood glucose-lowering effect of O. streptacantha http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3276479, another study of three other species of Opuntia (O. lasiacantha, O. velutina, and O. macrocentra) showed no such effect. Yet another study, on O. megacantha, raised concern about toxic effects on the kidney. Well, this last species looks exactly like all the other Nopal's. http://tinyurl.com/953wvw
It may be that certain species are effective and useful in diabetes while others are not but this needs to be clarified with further research before recommending its use.
I think before one ingest Nopal juice, read the label to inquire what part of the cactus is being used - the leaf, the stem or pear - and definitely which species is being used. Then do a Google search using an advanced boolean search string on issues/problems with that Opuntia species. For example;
"o. megacantha+health+issues+problems" without the quotes returned 46 hits on o. megacantha issues/problems.
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