The Nopal cactus grows widespread in many parts of the world, and in some areas is considered a noxious weed. In addition to the use of the stems and leaves (also called pads or cladodes) and fruits (prickly pears) as food, Nopal has a long use in traditional folk medicine. The fruit shares some constituents with the stems, and contains additional unique polyphenols and betalain pigments with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. A randomized, double-blind, controlled, parallel-arm human study was performed to compare consumption of Nopal fruit juice (NFJ) to control (apricot) juice. Serum C-reactive protein (CRP) and uric acid were measured at baseline and after 8 and 12 weeks. Reduced CRP levels were seen in both the NFJ and control groups. The 21.0% reduction at 8 weeks in the NFJ group was significantly more robust than the 6.6% reduction in the control group (P <.05). The reduced CRP level within the NFJ group was highly significant at 8 weeks (P <.0001), and remained reduced by 10.6% at 12 weeks compared to baseline (P <.065). The CRP reduction was not significant within the control group. There was no significant difference in uric acid levels between the groups at either 8 or 12 weeks. The 5.2% increase in uric acid levels within the control group was highly significant at 8 weeks (P <.0003), remaining significant at 12 weeks (P <.04). In contrast, a transient 3.6% increase in uric acid in the NFJ group at 8 weeks (P <.02) returned almost back to baseline levels at 12 weeks. Consumption of NFJ was associated with significant reduction in the CRP inflammatory biomarker while maintaining uric acid well within healthy range.
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