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.
NIS Labs, Klamath Falls, OR, is a contract research laboratory that evaluates strategies to improve immune function and reduce inflammation, hence the […]