The Opuntia ficus indica, this is the botanical name, is a succulent plant, of the Cactaceae family (yes, exactly, same family of cactus), plants that live in arid environments thanks to their ability to accumulate water inside succulent tissues.
FROM MEXICO TO EUROPE
Of Mexican origin, this plant was introduced in Europe in 1500 (it is said that Columbus brought it back from his first overseas expedition in 1493) but it was already cultivated by the Aztecs who considered it a sacred plant.
For its characteristics it has adapted well to the Mediterranean climate, in Italy it is found mainly in Sicily and Sardinia (yellow, red and white cultivar). The fruit is rich in vitamin C (initially it is said to be used to treat scurvy) and very much appreciated for some time but perhaps not everyone knows that it is also a source of free glucose and fructose, potassium, calcium and phosphorus.
The peculiarity of the prickly pear is to have the stem formed by the union of many "blades" or "cladodes" that are grouped in branches.
In South America and especially in Mexico, the cladodes are eaten as they are or sliced, after removing the thorns (😊). Here we use the gel found inside the cladodes.
PROPERTIES OF PRICKLY PEAR GEL
The gel contained in the blades has properties similar to the best known and advertised equivalent of aloe. The fibrous composition of this gel, rich in mucilage and pectins, gives it a great anti-oxidant and re-epithelializing power, making it absolutely comparable to hyaluronic acid. These same molecules have an important anti-inflammatory and protective function, which is equivalent to a healthy and moisturized skin.
Because of its delicacy it is also indicated for daily use and is ideal for hair damaged and worn out by the sea, the sun, treatments or stress that, thanks to this natural ingredient, receive the hydration and nourishment needed to shine again.
PRICKLY PEAR OIL
The oil extracted from the seeds, on the other hand, is rich in vitamin E (with incredible regenerative properties for the skin), vitamin F and fatty acids such as Omega 3, 6 and 9 which bring many benefits to the whole body, from the heart to the hair. The emollient and anti-inflammatory properties of prickly pear extract make it also indicated against skin aging, as an after sun treatment even on skin more inclined to develop erythema and also in the fight against stretch marks. Its incredible ease of absorption turns it into a real beauty elixir suitable for any type of skin and is ideal for restructuring dry or damaged skin.