What people with arthritis should know about nopalea


If you watch late-night TV, you've probably seen the commercial for Nopalea (pronounced no-pah-lay-uh). Until I saw it myself, I hadn't heard of Nopalea. The statements were surprising and I think that most people living with chronic joint pain or arthritis probably want to know more about the product after hearing the statements. I did some research and this is what I found.

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Explanation of Nopaleya

Nopalea is a "health drink" produced and marketed by TriVita. The drink is obtained from the fruits of the nopal (Opuntia Ficus Indica), prickly pear.

According to the manufacturer's website, the prickly pear fruit contains a class of antioxidants known as bioflavonoids (also called flavonoids). Specifically, the website says: 'Research has shown that the prickly pear fruit has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties thanks to a rare and powerful class of nutrients called bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids belong to the quercetin family , which have been shown to protect against inflammation associated with free radicals (unstable molecules in the body). The prickly pear fruit is a rich source of quercetin.

According to the commercial, "The Nopal fruit has been scientifically proven to contain an extremely powerful class of antioxidants known as betalains that provide a wide range of benefits." It states that betalains are rare and generally absent from our diet.

Potential benefit statements

The manufacturer claims that Nopalea can help reduce pain associated with inflammation; improve joint health; relieve swelling of the muscles; and protect the health of the body's cells. It claims to neutralize internal body toxins and is also a natural remedy for inflammation.

Nopalea is said to work in the following way: as soon as the drink enters the body, the bioflavonoids "enter the body." The bioflavonoids then "get close to diseased cells and remove toxic waste." The body turns diseased cells into healthy cells, and macrophages seek out and consume dead cells. Bioflavonoids surround and protect the remaining cells.

How much should you drink?

The manufacturer advises people new to Nopalea to drink 3 to 6 ounces a day for 30 days. Thereafter, it should be taken as a maintenance drink to continue fighting inflammation. the manufacturer recommends drinking 1 to 3 ounces a day.


The manufacturer's website indicates that there are no known contraindications to Nopalea due to medications you are already taking. But they recommend that people who are taking any medications or have a known medical condition discuss Nopalea with their doctor before trying a dietary supplement. However, this contradicts information from the University of Maryland Medical Center, which states that quercetin can interact with corticosteroids , cyclosporine, and some other medications .

Skeptics reject bloated marketing

The first question skeptics raise is TriVita's claim that the fruits of the Nopalea Nopal cactus contain "a very rare and powerful class of antioxidants called bioflavonoids." Rare? In addition, the commercial states that "the Nopal fruit has been scientifically proven to contain an extremely powerful class of antioxidants known as betalains that provide a wide range of benefits." Scientifically proven?

Bioflavonoids are not uncommon. According to the journal Food Composition and Analysis , more than 5,000 different flavonoids have been identified. Foods that contain significant amounts of flavonoids include the following raw fruits: peeled apples, apricots, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, blueberries, grapefruits, black grapes, and raspberries. Flavonoids are also noticeable in raw red onions and raw hot peppers. , fresh dill, fresh thyme, tea, buckwheat flour and chocolate.

Betalains are antioxidants that give beets a reddish purple to yellow color. Betalains are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, according to Dr. Andrew Weil.

Quercetin is a flavonoid. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, quercetin has strong antioxidant properties in vitro, but researchers aren't sure if they work the same way in humans; this has not been scientifically proven.

The essence

There is no question that antioxidants are considered healthy as part of your diet. But there is little to no conclusive evidence in scientific research to tell us how much is needed to prevent or treat disease, or simply to control inflammation.

For Nopalea specifically, a PubMed.gov search reveals no human studies that TriVita's Nopalea would have performed. Reviews can be found on their website, but they have taught us to trust scientific research, not reviews. Be wary of the lure of unproven remedies, and be sure to ask about a product before purchasing. Don't get carried away by the hype.

Read the label that lists the ingredients in Nopalea . Decide for yourself.

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