What is Prickly pear?
Prickly Pear is a cactus that is widely believed to be native to Mexico. The plant is a species of cactus and scientifically known as Opuntia Ficus-indica. Prickly bear has long been a domesticated crop plant and is quite frequently found at most plant shops. The plant is of the Cactaceae family and can be found growing naturally all over the island. Prickly Pear is also known in Jamaica as Tuna or Tuna Plant and they are able to thrive almost anywhere and are very hard to die.The plant also produces a large, sweet fruit called tuna that is highly cultivated in other parts of the world.
How to use Prickly Pear?
One of the ways in which the plant is used locally is by slicing the leaves into smaller pieces then completely opening them apart. The sliced leaves are then allowed to soak for an extended period of time, sometimes overnight, with plain water or coconut water and then drink as you would regular water. Some persons also use the juice they obtain from the sliced leaves to serve as an ingredient in various alcoholic and non-alcoholic juices, dishes and baked goods. Tuna tea is also made using the juice extracted from the Prickly Pear plant.
Health benefits of Prickly Pear
Prickly Pear is believed to offer a number of health benefits. The juice from the leaves is used to make drinks that are said to clean out the intestines. Tuna tea is also used to combat chest aches, fevers and help improve digestion. The plant also possesses binding properties, is used as an astringent and helps in reducing bleeding. One of the plants interesting properties is that it works well for weight loss and weight management due to its ability to bind fat. This means that the Prickly Pear molecules bind themself to fat molecules that a person has consumed and prevents the body from absorbing the fat. Its fat binding properties also help in reducing cholesterol levels in the blood. The plant is also used to bring relief from backaches, constipation and excessive menstruation.