This prickly powerhouse is known by many names to many people: tuna, scoggineal, opuntia, cochineal cactus, prickly pear, white tungi, and many others. Growing to 10 feet and having large, thorny pads, this cactus has red flowers and ellipsoid, red-pink fruits.
WHERE IT CAN BE FOUND:
Pacific Islands, China, Mexico, Caribbean, Florida, Hawaii
PROPERTIES AND USE:
Anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, febrifuge, tonic, digestive, and used to treat skin ulcers, hair loss, difficult childbirth, obesity, high cholesterol, headache, diabetes, urinary tract infections, arthritis
For headaches and fevers, carefully peel a pad. Slice it in half lengthwise, and tie it around the head. For hypertension and fever, boil 1 pad in 3 cups water for 5 minutes. Drink 1 cup before each meal. For urinary tract infections, crush and soak 5 pads in 1 gallon water overnight. Drink 1 to 2 cups per day until symptoms subside. For difficult childbirth, drink 1 cup juice. For arthritis, peel, steam, and chill pads, eat a pad per day. For skin ulcers, slice a pad in half lengthwise and apply to the affected area.
NOPAL HAIR MASK Makes 1 treatment
The same qualities that allow the nopal to survive the scorching sun can rejuvenate and hydrate your hair.
This mask is used for conditioning, as well as for hair loss and as a relaxer.
• Peel and mash the fruit.
• Spread it on clean hair.
• Cover with a shower cap or plastic wrap for 1 hour, and then rinse.
Repeat each week as necessary.