What's So Special About Prickly Pear?

by Sarah Villafranco, MD /

INGREDIENT: Prickly pear seed oil

FANCY LATIN NAME: Opuntia ficus indica

WHERE IT COMES FROM: Prickly pear seed oil is extracted from the seeds found in the fruit of the cactus - brightly-colored, flowering bulbs that emerge from the pads during summer and fall. The fruits are hand-gathered in a laborious (and pokey) process. The seeds are extracted, dried, and pressed to obtain the light-colored oil. The prickly pear is native to Mexico and South America. It slowly made its way to North America (by traveling through the digestive tracts of animals, though you may not want to consider the details of that journey). The cactus was then taken overseas and has now adapted to many different climates across the world. In fact, it has flourished to such a degree in Australia that it is considered an environmentally invasive species there. At Osmia we use cold-pressed, certified organic prickly pear seed oil from Tunisia.

AROMATHERAPY & MEDICINAL USES: Prickly pear is a nutrient-dense cactus that, despite being a little dangerous to prepare, is eaten as a seasonal treat in many cultures. It is referred to as nopal in Latin cuisine. Prickly pear is a good source of several important nutrients, including calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and betalains, the same potent anti-oxidants found in beets. These nutrients may account for its alleged usefulness in preventing hangovers. The cactus is high in fiber, and is being studied in Type II diabetes, as it may have some beneficial effect on blood glucose in these patients.

SKINCARE USES: Prickly pear seed oil has the rare combination of a light texture with deep penetration, leaving the skin extremely soft and velvety. It is rich in tocopherols (vitamin E) and omega-6 fatty acids, both of which nourish and protect the skin. High levels of vitamin K and zinc help heal dark spot and scars. The amino acids and antioxidants in the oil improve skin elasticity and appearance, especially for dry or mature skin types. Prickly pear seed oil is one of the most expensive beauty oils in the world due to its method of extraction and the massive number of seeds it takes to make even one ounce of the oil.

THINGS TO KNOW: Prickly pear has been a staple in the Mexican and Central American diet for thousands of years. The pads, the petals of the flower, and the fruit can be prepared in many different culinary fashions. The pads taste like green beans, while the fruit tastes more like watermelon. Also, it hurts to sit on a prickly pear. I know this as the gospel truth. There are photos to prove it.

RANDOM SNIPPETS: The prickly pear has a dramatic history, including a legend that tells of a great cactus that grew from the heart of an Aztec warrior named Copil. Also, the plant is a hermaphrodite – who knew??

OSMIA PRODUCTS WITH Prickly Pear Seed Oil:

Luz Facial Brightening Serum

This serum is excellent for brightening dull complexions, and providing a gentle enzyme exfoliation with actives like mushroom, pumpkin, and papaya extracts. Excellent texture under makeup, and beautiful as an overnight nourishing treatment.

Nectar Vital Rose Drops

You will want to get your hands on a bottle of this stuff immediately. Designed to boost your skin care products by adding just a few drops to your moisturizer or serum daily. The drops are enhanced with organic rose and wild sandalwood, may become your new obsession. 



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