Prickly pear (Opuntia littoralis) medicinal herb is a cactus and it is native to the United States, Mexico, and South America. It grows well in many areas of the world, including Africa and Australia as well as the Caribbean.
It is available and accessible as a houseplant at most plant shops. Tuna or tuna plant as it is called in Jamaica is all over the Island and it is well utilized by our people. It is also referred to as Indian fig.
I have it in my backyard, it is easily grown and it is very hard to die. When it is too top heavy because of the numerous branches, it breaks off and fall to the ground and begins to grow all over again.
I have so many growing in my yard, it is hard to control. It is a part of the cactus plants and it strives well in arid conditions.
This medicinal herb is widely used in Jamaica to alleviate back pains and the men just love to use it for this ailment.
This is done by slicing the leaves completely open and apart, preferably in halves or quarters depending on the container that you are going to store it in.
Soak it overnight in the refrigerator with coconut water and drink as you would with regular water.
This remedy is also good for constipation, to clean out the intestines, alleviate a fever and to remove mucus from the body system.
This concoction has no taste, you only have to deal with the slime that is produced by the sap. However, when you think of the benefits of prickly pear or tuna, then the slime is not even important.
The juice is beneficial in lowering blood glucose, decrease cholesterol levels and kill viruses present inside of the body.
In Curacao, the leaf or stem is often warmed by the fire and then it is sliced in two. The sliced pieces are then placed upon the head and other areas of the body to alleviate aches and pains.
It is also good to reduce swellings as well as drain boils. Used as a poultice, in Cuba it is applied to burns due to radiation.
The constituents of the leaves are calcium malate and calcium oxalate. The gum that is produced by the leaves is called bassorin.
The tuna tea drink made from a bit of this plant can be consumed to treat chest problems, very high fever, digestive tract troubles, rabies as well as every skin disorders.
The fresh sap from the leaves is utilized as a natural shampoo to completely clean as well as strengthen the scalp and also the hair, removing dandruff, itching besides other scalp troubles.
Tuna tea made from the root is used to fight off dysentery and gonorrhea.
Updated March 10, 2020