What is cactus juice for? 3 things you’re missing out

Many people call cactus juice a scam. Can it really offer anything good?

What is cactus juice for, really?

As something not usually found in the typical diet, cactus juice adds to the variety of nutrients your immune system gets.

#1: Phytochemicals

Phytochemicals are compounds found in plants. When consumed, they nourish our immume system in myriad ways. Those in cactus include:

  • alkaloids
  • indicaxanthin
  • neobetanin
  • flavonoids
  • proanthocyanidins
  • carotenoids
  • β-sterols
  • α-pyrones
  • Coumaric
  • 3,4-dihydroxybenzoic
  • 4-hydroxybenzoic
  • Ferulic acid
  • Salicylic acid
  • Isoquercetin
  • Isorhamnetin-3-O-glucoside
  • Nicotiflorin
  • Rutin
  • Narcissin
  • Vitamins B1, B2, B3
  • glutamine
  • leucine
  • lysine
  • valine
  • arginine
  • phenylalanine
  • isoleucine
  • Beta carotene
  • Lutein
  • Phenolic acids

#2: Antioxidants

These are phytochemicals which can counter free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can destroy DNA, leading to accelerated aging and many diseases including cancer. Some of the antioxidants in cactus include

In a study published in the Journal of Functional Food in September 2014, healthy volunteers experienced higher antioxidant activity after taking a cactus extract. In fact, the researchers discovered that cactus extract had higher free radical scavenging activity than plum seed and chia seed.

#3: Polysaccharides

These are long chain sugars, which are different from simple sugars like glucose.

When you cut across a cactus stem, you can see a slimy liquid. This liquid, known as mucilage, is rich in polysaccharides and is a part of cactus juice. They include

  • l-arabinose
  • d-galactose
  • l-rhamnose
  • d-xylose
  • galacturonic acid

Scientists found that human macrophages (immune cells that act as vacuum cleaner and more) produced more tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin 6, reactive oxygen species, and nitric oxide in the presence of cactus polysaccharides. These substances trigger immune processes that help to fight injury and disease.

In the same study, the cactus polysaccharides also had antioxidant effects and showed potential in activating an immune system regulating process.

The interesting thing is, the researchers observed that the bigger the polysaccharide, the more effective it is in activating the immune system. And because cactus contains so many different types of polysaccharides, you can be sure it is a quality source of them.

Can’t I just eat the cactus pad?

You can, but the effects will differ from drinking the juice–see this post for more details.

When buying cactus juice

Cactus nutrients decrease in quality rapidly after the pads are harvested. So you really need to buy from someone with expert knowledge of processing and producing cactus juice.

Be sure to buy good quality products that contain as little additive as possible. Examples include Millennium by E. Excel and Rhapsody by eLEAD.

As they don’t include any preservatives, you must store them in the fridge after opening.


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6 Comments on "What is cactus juice for? 3 things you’re missing out"

  1. All along I’ve been thinking that cactus is just a desert plant meant for survival purposes. Actually, when I heard of cactus juice and that it has got great nutritional benefits, I could hardly belive it.

    But now this whole thing has come into perspective. I’ve seen they help in aging issues. Does it mean that if I took the juice I’d make my aging process slower?


    1. If you’re currently having a balanced, varied plant based diet, exercising regularly, sleeping well, don’t smoke or drink alcohol, and have a positive outlook, you’re probably doing all that you can to keep aging as slow as it gets already.

      But if cactus juice can help to neutralize any aspect of your lifestyle that isn’t so helpful in slowing down aging, it’s worth a try. As we age, our immune system needs even more to keep it going. The immune system is the key to longevity, so feed it well.


  2. Hi Regina. I like your post. I learned a lot. I must admit cactus as a food has never crossed my mind. But, then again, if I was living somewhere withing cacti-growing climate, I would have known better. I read it has a varitey of polysacharides. That is superb for immunity and I hope to try it one day. But I am doubtful it will be soon, because I drink reishi capsules every day, and havent been sick for God know how long. Do you have a post about reishi or other medicinal mushrooms? I would like to read it, thank you for your reply.


  3. How interesting your story about cactus juice is.
    \What type of cactus are we talking about here?
    I would like to know more about what it tastes like and does it make your tongue go weird, you know like when you get aloe on your skin its a bit like snail slime but lovely at the same time.
    Is this aloe juice you’re referring to?
    Where is the research about effects of cactus juice on immune systems?
    Thanks for this fascinating information. Janelle


    1. Hi Janelle! Research has been done on several types of cactus, for example Opuntia ficus indica and Opuntia streptacantha. Basically, the Opuntia family of plants. Different species have different nutrients. Please click on the links where I mention the research in my posts to view the respective research papers.

      Cactus is not aloe vera, nor vice versa. The scientfic name for aloe vera is Aloe Barbadensis Miller. They are not closely related. Cactus and aloe vera gel are similar texture wise.


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