Q. I am a family practitioner and want to share an herbal remedy with you. A 60-year-old male Hispanic diabetic patient has had trouble controlling his blood sugar. Despite intensive diet changes and a prescription for Glucovance, his blood sugar still ran in the 160’s to 180’s.

One day he came in with his diary showing blood sugars of 90 to 100 consistently. I asked what he was doing differently and he said in a low voice, “I got me a new girlfriend. She’s from Mexico, and she makes me tea from nopalito (prickly pear) cactus. She has me drink it three times a day. Now my sugars are doing better.”

I did some checking, but all I could find is that possibly the pectin in the cactus may affect the absorption of food. Let me know if you run across any information on this prickly pear remedy.

A. A number of studies show that prickly pear (Opuntia) can control blood sugar in experimental diabetes in animals. Preliminary data suggest that humans may also be able to lower blood sugar with this cactus, but the research is not definitive.

Diabetic patients who want to consider this approach should work with their doctors and monitor blood sugar as closely as your patient has.

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