Cactus Juice: Benefits, Recipe & Side Effects

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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If you ever want to try an exotic vegetable juice, cactus juice is an excellent option, as it has a long list of potential health benefits, incredible nutrient density, and various powerful antioxidants.

What is Cactus Juice?

Cactus juice is actually known by many different names, including prickly pear juice or nopales juice, but they are all referring to the natural juice of the prickly pear cactus. There are more than a hundred different species in the Opuntia genus but many of them share similar physical and nutritional profiles. Native to the Americas, prickly pear cactus was first naturalized in Australia and has since spread to many other parts of the globe. It is believed that cactus juice has been a part of indigenous people’s culinary practices for thousands of years.

Cactus Juice Nutrition

Cactus juice is an excellent source of vitamin C, B-family vitamins, iron, calcium, beta-carotene, magnesium, numerous amino acids, and other phytonutrients. It is also extremely low in calories, although it is quite high in omega-6 fatty acids.

Extracting cactus juice requires a bit more effort than most other vegetable juices, but it is well worth the effort, provided you can find the appropriate prickly pear cactus pads to make the juice. While you can purchase your own cactus juice in certain exotic food stores, it can be expensive and also packed with other additives or sugars. Making your own allows you to be creative with other ingredients and enjoy the many health benefits of this juice at a fraction of the price.

Benefits of Cactus Juice

The top benefits of cactus juice include its ability to aid in weight-loss efforts, ease digestion, reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, relieve menstrual cramps, manage diabetes, lower stress, improve cardiovascular health, reduce your risk of cancer and eliminate hangovers quickly.

Lowers Cholesterol Levels

Studies have found that regular consumption of cactus juice can not only lower your LD cholesterol levels significantly but may also reduce fat deposition, thus lowering your risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.

Weight Loss

Cactus juice is extremely low in calories, about 15 calories per cup, which means you can drink quite a bit of this juice without it affecting your daily intake of calories. However, it does have the ability to fill you up and deliver a number of key nutrients, so you can prevent snacking and overeating without compromising your diet!

Improves Digestion

This juice has been recommended for intestinal problems for centuries, as it can form a protective layer in the gut that lowers inflammation levels and soothes the discomfort of irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, and colitis. It can also help clear up problems with constipation, bloating and cramping, as it clears out the colon and digestive tracts.

Manages Diabetes Under Cataract Development

A study in the Saudi Journal for Health Sciences shows that regular intake of cactus juice protects the body from oxidative damage. It weakens the cataract development as a complication of diabetes by decreasing blood sugar levels, reducing oxidative stress, and restoring the activity of antioxidant enzymes.

Anticancer Potential

Cactus juice is helpful in preventing the growth of cancer cells.

A 2009 research study published in the Plant Foods for Human Nutrition journal tried to find the impact of nine varieties of prickly pear cactus juices on cancer cells. It revealed that certain types of prickly pear juices are rich in antioxidants like phenolics, flavonoids, betalains that help in inhibiting the growth of colon as well as prostate cancer cells. More research is still required to know if the same can be used for liver cancer.

Lowers Blood Pressure

There are impressive levels of potassium found in cactus juice, making it excellent for lowering blood pressure and symptoms of hypertension. This can lessen the strain on your heart, and lower your chances of heart attack and stroke.

Acts as Anti-inflammatory Agent

If you suffer from conditions like arthritis, gout, inflamed bowels, headaches, chronic muscle pain or high oxidative stress levels, the anti-inflammatory properties of this juice are precisely what you need. The phytochemicals and other antioxidants in the juice provide most of these soothing benefits.

Hangover Cure

Over the years, countless people have sworn by cactus juice as the ultimate hangover cure. Alcohol in excess can cause inflammation, and cactus juice can directly counter that, while also addressing some of the most common symptoms of a hangover, such as nausea and headaches.

Relieves Menstrual Cramps

The anti-spasmodic nature of the active ingredients in cactus juice makes it a popular juice for women experiencing painful menstrual cramps. This juice can act rapidly to eliminate all abdominal discomfort and tightness, and also relieve stress and anxiety that often accompanies a woman’s period.

Reduces Stress Levels

If you suffer from chronic anxiety or stress, some of the active ingredients found in this juice can mimic the effects of cortisone, which can effectively lower your stress hormone levels and calm the mind, helping you focus or relax, and even get a better night’s sleep.

How to Make Cactus Juice?

Making your own cactus juice at home may sound daunting, but it is only slightly more complicated than blending or juicing a normal vegetable. As mentioned, there are more than a hundred species of prickly pear cactus, but the most important thing is to remove the spines from both the pads and the rounded fruits. Mature pads and fruit will contain the most diverse and stable range of nutrients. To improve the flavor of the juice, many people add other citrus fruits to increase sweetness and palatability.

Three glasses of cactus juice kept beside cacti
Print Recipe
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Cactus Juice Recipe For Good Health

Start your day with this healthy and nutritious drink!
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: cactus, cactus juice
Appliance: Blender, Juicer
Servings: 2 servings
Author: Ishani Bose


  • 2 large cactus pads (or 2-3 prickly pear fruits)
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 lemon


  • To make cactus juice, start with removing any spines still stuck in the pad with tweezers or a knife.
  • Bring a pot of water up to a boil and then drop in the two cactus pads.
  • Allow them to steep for 3-4 minutes, as they will begin releasing their juices
  • Remove the pads carefully and let them cool.
  • Peel the pads and chop them into small cubes.
  • Add the chopped cactus to your blender, along with the oranges, lemon and coconut water.
  • Blend thoroughly until the consistency is even.
  • Place cheesecloth over a bowl or container and strain the blended mixture through it.
  • Press on the cactus pulp in the cheesecloth, removing as much juice as possible.
  •  Discard the cactus pulp, refrigerate the juice, and serve chilled!
    Three glasses of cactus juice kept beside cacti

Side Effects of Cactus Juice

Cactus juice can be a wonderful addition to your health regimen, but there are some potential health risks and side effects of which you should be aware of. Before using this nutrient-rich drink, it is best to speak with your doctor about your specific risk factors.

  • Hangover: Although many people consider cactus juice a hangover cure, those with sensitive stomachs or severe reactions to alcohol may find that cactus juice makes the symptoms worse, including more painful headaches and additional gastrointestinal distress.
  • Diabetes: Cactus juice is known for its blood sugar-lowering ability, but people with low blood sugar, or those on medication for the condition, could experience dangerously low levels of blood sugar, causing weakness, cognitive confusion, and even fainting.
  • Stomach Issues: Common side effects for people who are not used to drinking cactus juice include nausea, diarrhea, cramping, bloating and other types of gastrointestinal distress.
  • Drug Interactions: Experts do not recommend drinking cactus juice before taking daily medications, as the juice can inhibit a number of drugs, particularly those for kidney, liver and pancreatic conditions. Protection Status
About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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