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J Ethnopharmacol. 1996 Dec;55(1):27-33.

A purified extract from prickly pear cactus (Opuntia fuliginosa) controls experimentally induced diabetes in rats.

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Department of Biotechnology, CIIDIR-IPN, Jiquilpan, Michoacan, Mexico.


The hypoglycemic activity of a purified extract from prickly pear cactus (Opuntia fuliginosa) was evaluated on STZ-induced diabetic rats. Blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin levels were reduced to normal values by a combined treatment of insulin and Opuntia extract. When insulin was withdrawn from the combined treatment, the prickly pear extract alone maintained normoglycemic state in the diabetic rats. The blood glucose response to administered glucose also showed that the rats receiving the combination treatment of insulin and Opuntia extract for 7 weeks followed by Opuntia extract alone were capable of rapidly returning blood glucose to the levels of the nondiabetic rats. Although the mechanism of action is unknown, the magnitude of the glucose control by the small amount of Opuntia extract required (1 mg/kg body weight per day) preclude a predominant role for dietary fiber. These very encouraging results for diabetes control by the purified extract of this Opuntia cactus make the need for clinical studies in humans evident.

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