You’ve probably seen the TV commercials, by a company called TriVita, for the latest alleged panacea for whatever ails you. The product, called Nopalea, is supposed to be an amazing, all-natural health product that will prevent inflammation responsible for joint aches, headaches, acne, and just about everything short of holes in your socks. While it is a fact that inflammation–which takes numerous forms–can be the cause of a plethora of health conditions, it can also be the result of certain disorders/diseases/injuries. Both a sprained ankle or an inner ear infection can cause swelling and irritation. Inflammation as an incipient reason behind an illness, on the other hand, can result in pain from pressure on nerves and fluid accumulation. Examples range from blisters to pleurisy.
TriVita claims their product is made from a supposedly rare plant called the nopal cactus, Opuntia ficus indica, which they further state grows only in the Sonora Desert. However, the plant source shown on their ad is the prickly pear cactus (nopales, in Spanish; aka Opuntia humifusa)–far from rare. In California, as throughout the Southwest, this succulent grows all over, even in alleyways in the largest cities. Even here in Michigan (see http://echoflam.com/alternative-medicine-in-detroit/prickly-pears-lower-mi) it grows in our LP! This cactus is also found in the Middle East–so much for its rarity. Is TriVita trying to scam the public, or did their staff collectively flunk geography?
This product–supposedly prickly pear juice–is being sold for $9.95 a bottle (32 ounces). Many major grocery chains also carry this fruit, and in some cases, its juice, at much lower prices. Sure, TriVita includes some info about their product (in a booklet on inflammation) but this doesn’t justify the misleading sales tactics.
Prickly pear fruit is good for hypoglycemia, prevention of LDL cholesterol formation, and–surprisingly, considering tequila is made from another form of cactus–hangovers (see http://www.slimdynamics.com/opuntia-ficus-indica.pdf). The leaves (nopales) and shoots (nopalitos) have benefits, too, for conditions of the skin such as lesions, rashes, scar tissue or boils. In a peeled form minus all the needles, nopales and nopalitos are delicious as food.
Do yourself a favor: skip this product. If you want the goodness of prickly pears and their leaves, go for the real source at much lower prices. Natural fruits and vegetables are good, but don’t let every product claiming to be a “miracle food” fool you.
In the Detroit area, to find prickly pears, see:
-Honeybee Market–2443 Bagley Ave., Detroit–313-237-0295
-Horrock’s: 235 Capital Ave. SW, Battle Creek–269-966-3200, or 4455 Breton Rd. SE, Kentwood–616-455-7998