Prickly Pear Cactus Medicine: Treatments for Diabetes, Cholesterol, and the Immune System

Excerpts & Samples

By Ran Knishinsky

Publisher : Inner Traditions/Bear & Company

ABOUT Ran Knishinsky

Ran Knishinsky
Ran Knishinsky is a professional health researcher and writer and the founder of NutraConsulting, a consulting firm to the natural products industry. He is the author of The Clay Cure and The Prozac Alternative. Visit the author's web site at



The first complete guide to natural healing properties and uses of the prickly pear cactus

• Examines the scientific research promoting the cactus as a natural diabetes and cholesterol medication as well as its use in the treatment of obesity, gastrointestinal disorders, skin ailments, and viral infections

• Explores the healing uses of prickly pears from the perspective of doctor, chemist, ethnobotanist, cook, and layman

• Includes 24 cactus recipes--from Prickly Pear Bread to Cactus Candy

The prickly pear cactus--a plant that has the distinction of being a vegetable, fruit, and flower all in one--is destined to be the next big herbal superstar, following in the footsteps of St. John’s wort and Echinacea, according to author Ran Knishinsky. One of the driving forces behind its popularity is that each part of this plant functions as both food and medicine. It has been a staple in the diets of the people of the southwestern portion of the United States, the Middle East, parts of Europe and Africa, and Central and South America for hundreds of years.

Traditionally, the prickly pear cactus has been used as a panacea for over 100 different ailments. More recently, it has been the subject of blood cholesterol research trials sponsored by the American Heart Association. In addition to the results of this research, Knishinsky includes scientific studies on the antiviral properties of the cactus to treat herpes, influenza, and HIV, as well as its use in treating obesity, gastrointestinal disorders, and skin ailments. A resource section details the natural food companies that supply prickly pear cactus and a chapter of recipes offers 24 traditional and modern dishes using the pads and fruit of the cactus.

"Prickly Pear Cactus Medicine is the first guide to the natural healing powers of the prickly pear cactus."

The Metaphysical Buyers Guide, 2004

"The prickly pear cactus may become an herbal superstar. . . . Prickly Pear Cactus Medicine is a unique and invaluable contribution to alternative medicine reference collections."

The Midwest Book Review, April, 2005

"The prickly pear is one of the most widespread cacti on Earth and has some of the most diverse uses, both as food and medicine. This book provides a comprehensive and detailed review of the benefits of this remarkable plant and a compelling argument for its increased acceptance into modern herbalism."
Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the American Botanical Council and editor of HerbalGram

"As an herbalist and ethnobotanist, I have scoured the literature to find more details about the use of these curious plants. My search has been rewarded by the publication of Ran Knishinsky's new book, Prickly Pear Cactus Medicine. He has done a masterful job unearthing details on the use of the prickly pear cactus for food and for medicine. This, the only cactus widely available in American supermarkets, is poised to become a dietary staple and Knishinsky's book provides the spark to move prickly pear from beyond ethnic use to mainstream acceptance."
David Winston, AHG, dean of the Herbal Therapeutics School of Botanical Medicine and chair of the Admissions Review Committee for the American Herbalist Guild

"A wonderful book about a wonderful herb. An excellent blend of good science and real life apllications showing the relevance of prickly pear in the treatment of conditions such as diabetes, cholesterol management and a range of immunological problems. The wealth of gourmet recipes and practical guidelines will prove invaluable to the many people that prickly pear will benefit."
David Hoffman, FNIMH, AHG, author of Medical Herbalism and The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal

"For paean to the prickly pear, and as a source of good practical information about its uses, this book is an excellent resource."
New Mexico, June 2005, Vol. 83, No. 6

". . . how intriguing it is that prickly pear cactus grows so profusely here in the Southwest and is also the treatment for a disease that is epidemic here amongst the native people."
Celeste Bonde, Southwest Book Views, Winter, 2005