Opuntia ficus-indica is more widely known in layman’s term as the tuna plant or as the Jamaican tuna plant, a sixteen feet prickly pear cactus that has the ability to produce even larger fruits or tunas which looks like a crossbreed between a fig and a strawberry.
The other scientific name of tuna plant is Opuntia littoralis although this one is smaller than the former and also produces smaller tuna. These plants are mostly found in the Southeastern parts of the United State, Mexico and in South America but it can also be seen in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean, Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Albeit the claims that the plant has remedial benefits, it’s still not a proven and reliable fact that it can be beneficial to one’s health so further investigation and research should still be done to prove the authenticity of the plant to medicinal use.
Know About the Various Benefits of Tuna Plant
Cactus, like every other plant, have many surprisingly beneficial properties that can be useful in the kitchen and when it comes to creating concoctions of herbal medicines. Nopal cacti plant leaves are edible when the needles of this cactus are removed and can be eaten fresh if it’s turned into a canned food.
But other than being edible, the leaves of the plant of the Opuntia ficus indica or the juice in it have medicinal properties that are meant to treat burns, cuts and other injuries because it is believed to arouse healing and consequently reduce the pain from the injury.
As for the Jamaican tuna plant, the fruit is believed to be a remedy for Jamaicans. The red tuna fruit can be eaten raw or turned into jams and drinks like juice and teas and it contains dietary fiber, antioxidants and vitamin C.
It is also believed to treat diarrhea and other stomach issues because it contains an astringent properties and astringents are believed to aid in any gastrointestinal problems and astringents also aid in reducing the production of mucus and it helps in bleeding too.
As they say, it’s also important to note that the fruits of plants aren’t the only ones with medicinal properties because the leaves can also be used for herbal remedies and for the Jamaican tuna plant, its leaves are just as beneficial as the fruits. Its leaves have the potential to be used as Jamaican herbal remedies.
It’s believed to relieve constipation and reduce fevers and even fight menstrual issues. The sap of the cactus leaves can also be useful to treat scalp problems like dandruff and can be used as a shampoo although it’s unclear if it can also help in thickening hair.
Benefits of Tuna Plants for Hair
Tuna plant for hair is actually also a thing but you should note that it’s not similar to Aloe Vera which is also another cactus that’s widely known to be beneficial in treating hair problems. The plant produces this penka gel that acts as a moisturizer and it is known to be useful when treating hair and any skin conditions and is also an ingredient when it comes to shampoos or serums meant to help with the growth of hair.
Just like how Aloe Vera is used to treat hair, you split the leaf in half or simply cut it apart and then rubbing the watery portion on your scalp and you have to let it stay on for 30 minutes under a plastic cap. Think of the way hot oil treatments are done in salons because the process is similar. The result leaves your scalp feeling cleaner and soothing and the plant is also meant to thicken the hair by strengthening the root.
You can use it as a shampoo that’s meant to treat your hair. Think of it as a treatment that you can get done in a salon but can also be done at home if you know the method and have the ingredients to do so.
Here are the ingredients you need to do so:
- A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
- Two tablespoons of warm water
- Three tuna leaves that are cut in half which will give you 6 pieces
- A tablespoon of lavender oil that’s mix in three cups of water. Make sure that’s cool before you begin to add the ingredients together.
Steps for the treatment:
- Make sure that your hair is thoroughly wet.
- Create an apple cider shampoo by mixing the vinegar and water together (you can use a lot of water if it’s needed).
- Part your hair into sections, preferably into six.
- Cut the tuna leaves vertically and then split it in half so that you can acquire the gel and then begin rubbing it on your scalp.
- Make sure that you rub on every part of your scalp.
- Leave it be for fifteen minutes. Massage your scalp to make sure that you got every part of it.
- Thoroughly begin to rinse your hair with water after the fifteen minutes is over.
- To make sure that you still smell nice, rinse your head with the lavender water that you’ve set aside earlier.
Benefits of Tuna Plants for Skin
The benefits of tuna plant for skin have already been mentioned earlier in this article. The leaves aren’t primarily just used to treat hair conditions and to thicken and strengthen hair, but it’s also being used to treat minor cuts.
One of the ways in herbal medicines is to use the leaves topically on burns, abrasions, and cuts on wounds because it’s believed that the leaf has a property that could reduce and ease the pain and the same goes for tuna plants.
Aside from the benefits that have been mentioned, both for the hair and skin and the other benefits that tuna plants have when it comes to gastrointestinal problems, the plant is also believed to lower blood glucose and cholesterol. This assumption hasn’t been fully researched and investigated yet, so one has to be cautious when it comes to this belief.
Plants have a lot of medicinal properties and the tuna plant has the same benefits. Although its mostly predominant in certain countries and areas, if the benefits that it possesses can be fully proven to be true and approved, then there’s a huge possibility that this plant can be used all over the world as a medicine.
Herbal medicines have proven useful to some people while there are still some who prefer medicines that have been widely proven and tested to be effective.
When it comes to using plants or medicines that haven’t been proven and tested to be safe and effective, it’s always important to be cautious. We can’t always fully rely on hearsay and there’s a large possibility that everything could simply be false.
Tuna plants have a lot of benefits that could potentially be marketed in the medical as a treatment but while there are some benefits of it that aren’t proven safe and effective, it’s always better to be cautious if you’re thinking about using it.